Choosing a Central Air Conditioning System
What to Consider - The most expensive appliance in your average home is a central cooling system but yet few people take the time to make an informed decision. If you have a reputable contractor then they can help you through this decision and make it much easier to navigate.
Information on Selecting an Air Conditioning Contractor
Get a Proper Load Calculation - Make sure they run a proper load calculation for the job. A reputable heating and air conditioning contractor will come to your home or job site to make an inspection before any bid is made. A proper load calculation should be done at this time using computer software or professional guidelines like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America's Manual J. The contractor should spend a half hour or more measuring ceilings, windows, floors, and walls, and checking the insulation or R value of the home. Equipment that is oversized will not provide proper humidity control, and will cost more to operate. Equipment that is undersized will not be able to provide sufficient comfort and will run more, which means higher energy bills and a shorter life span. Duct and register size should also be based on this load calculation for proper operation.
Consider High Efficiency - One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a unit is the efficiency. The higher the efficiency of the unit the more it will cost you in the beginning but an investment in a higher efficiency system will return your investment many times over in cost savings over the course of the equipments life span. Air conditioner efficiency is rated in SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER ratings tell you how much cooling you get back for a unit of electricity so the higher the number the more you get for your money. Before 1992 most units manufactured were at a 6.0 SEER rating. Today the lowers efficiency unit you can buy is a 10.0 and high efficient units start at 12.0. If you replaced a unit that was rated at 6.0 with a 12.0 you would save half of the cost of the electricity to run the unit. Two speed units can run on low speed 80% of the time which allow them to get ratings as high as 16.0+ SEER.
The Compressor - The compressor is the motor or pump that makes an air conditioner work and can be very expensive to replace. Air conditioners usually have either a scroll or reciprocating compressor. Scroll compressors are more efficient and make less noise and are therefore more expensive initially. Reciprocating compressors are less efficient, make more noise and usually come with a shorter warrantee life. Most compressors have a five year parts warrantee and many come with a ten year warrantee standard. Some units offer an additional warranty which can be purchased separately.
Get a Programmable Thermostat - Also if your house is empty for part of the day consider investing in a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to set your unit to a higher temperature while you are gone and then have it drop back to a comfortable level thirty minutes before you are due to arrive home. Some people also like to set a different temperature for when they are asleep then their waking hours. Most thermostats can be set for a particular day of the week so you can bypass your program or change it on days when you are home.
Match the System - If you have to change the outdoor air conditioning or condensing unit consider changing the indoor coil to match it. Ask your contractor if the indoor or evaporator coil is compatible or if it also needs to be changed. Mismatching a high efficient condensing unit with a low efficient indoor coil can not only cost you most if not all of the added efficiency but can also damage your compressor valves and cause your compressor to wear out much sooner than it normally would.
Don't Forget Maintenance - Remember that once you choose a system to have it maintained by a reputable contractor. Almost half of all repairs are due to improper or neglected maintenance. If you choose to skip regular maintenance you will find yourself paying for a major repair down the line. If you skip your regular maintenance, you will cost yourself money and be inconvenienced in the long run. For maximum performance and long life have a professional perform needed maintenance on your air conditioner in the spring and your furnace or heat pump in the fall. Many air conditioning businesses offer special prices during the spring and fall. Some offer bi-annual service contacts which assure the homeowner that they will receive service each spring and fall at a reduced rate.
Professional air conditioning maintenance
Get a Good Contractor - When you purchase an air conditioner it is very important to choose a knowledgeable and reputable contractor. When you get ready to make a decision about an air conditioner you will need the help of a contractor to make an informed decision. Also if your air conditioner or heater breaks down you need the services of licensed contractor who has the knowledge, proper tools and equipment, and experience to do the job right the first time and not leave you in worse shape that when you started. Or more information on selecting a air conditioning contractor click here.
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