If your old air conditioner has finally bit the dust and you are looking to upgrade, it is the perfect opportunity to drastically improve the energy efficiency of your home. Because whole-home air conditioners are some of the most expensive upgrades you can perform on your home, you should carefully research your options before making a purchase. Here are three factors to consider when you are buying a new air conditioner.
Know the Different Types of Air Conditioners
When you mention whole-home air conditioning, split central air conditioners are the first thing that come to mind for most people. These systems consist of an outdoor condenser unit and an indoor furnace and evaporator coils. While they are a very common whole-home air conditioning solution in the U.S., they are not the only type available.
If your home has not had forced-air heating and cooling installed before, it is possible that it does not have ductwork. For these homes, mini-split ductless air conditioners can be the perfect solution. These systems consist of multiple indoor air handlers in each room that needs to be cooled, and an outdoor condenser that connects to each air handler with copper refrigerant lines, PVC condensate drain lines, and electrical wiring. Unlike ducted systems, you can use a mini-split system to cool one room at a time by only activating one air handler.
Packaged central air conditioners consist of a condenser, evaporator, and heating coils all contained within a single cabinet. These systems can be installed at ground level outdoors, or they can also be installed on the roof for down-flow heating and cooling. Packaged central air conditioners are a good choice for smaller homes with minimal space requirements, as they eliminate the need for a separate indoor furnace.
Understand the SEER Rating
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER, is a rating that is used to determine the long-term usage costs of your whole-home cooling system. Every new air conditioner will be labeled with a SEER rating, so you should compare labels between different models before you purchase. All air conditioners manufactured after 2006 are required by federal law to have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, but the most energy-efficient units can have a SEER of 20 or more.
If you know the SEER rating and BTU per hour capacity of an air conditioner, as well as what you pay per kilowatt-hour for electricity, you can calculate the cost per operating hour of the air conditioner. First, divide the air conditioner's BTU capacity by the SEER to find the average watts per hour that the air conditioner uses. Then, convert this value to kilowatts (one kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts), and multiply by your cost per kilowatt-hour.
Inspect the Warranty Carefully
No one wants to think about their brand new air conditioner breaking down, but you will thank yourself later for carefully examining the warranty. Different manufacturers can have widely varying policies on what they are willing to replace for you, so choosing the right unit can save you from expensive repairs in the future.
Some air conditioner manufacturers provide a full system warranty, while others warranty air conditioners on a part-by-part basis. Before buying, you should determine if the manufacturer's warranty covers the labor to replace parts as well as the parts themselves. The best warranties to look for are limited lifetime warranties, which provide coverage for as long as you own your home.
Choosing a whole-home air conditioning solution is not difficult if you know how to calculate air conditioner efficiency and understand the different types and warranties that are available. Use these tips so you can make an informed decision about the best air conditioner for your home when shopping from a company like C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning.