Buying a New AC
So your air conditioning unit is acting up. Maybe it’s not cooling your house like it should. Or your energy bills are going up. Or there are funny noises coming from it.
It’s time, you’ve decided. Time for a new unit. But don’t panic. Just keep these important tips in mind when you go shopping.
- Trust a professional. Figuring out what unit to buy is complicated enough, and then you need to make sure you have a qualified and experienced professional to install it. Make sure the contractor you choose has a high or preferred rating from an organization such as the Better Business Bureau, Best Pick Reports, Angie’s List, etc. Also check references, and make sure the contractor is insured.
- Size matters. You want an appropriately sized unit. Too big and it will cycle on and off frequently, wasting energy and increasing your electric bill. A too big unit also may not efficiently remove humidity from your home. Too small and it won’t properly cool your home. To determine the right size, have your contractor conduct a load calculation. This calculation should take into account factors such as:
- Your home’s size
- The climate you live in
- Your home’s orientation to the sun
- Number and size of windows
- Roof material
- How well your house is insulated
- Number of appliances, etc.
This calculation will determine the appropriate cooling capacity you require. This is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units.
- Be efficient. Your unit’s efficiency will be measured by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ration (SEER). The minimum SEER requirement is 13, and units with ratings from 13 to 22 are deemed high efficiency. While they may cost more initially, savings in monthly energy costs will offset that over time. The highest-rated units will have an Energy Star label.
- Make sure you ask your contractor about an annual maintenance plan that will minimally provide for yearly tune-ups, which may be required to keep your warranty valid. Some maintenance agreements also include extended warranties and/or priority emergency service.
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