Selecting an air conditioner for your home is a big decision. It’s an important investment today. It will play a key role in your home energy expenses for years to come. And when the summer heat is at its worst, you’ll want your family to have the best, most reliable cooling comfort possible. Here are a few things to consider.
The best ones are efficient, operating on minimal electricity to hold utility bills down. They provide steady, dependable performance year after year when properly maintained. Good systems are quiet, long-lasting and low in service needs.
Obviously, an air conditioner that’s too small won’t keep your home sufficiently cool. But what many don’t realize is that an oversized system will cycle (turn on and off) more than necessary, wasting expensive energy and possibly putting undue strain on the compressor.
A good contractor will determine the optimum size for your home by making a careful study of your cooling requirements. Window dimensions and exposure. Floor space, insulation and local climate. Heat-generating appliances. The direction your home faces. Even the amount of your home’s exterior shaded by trees.
He’ll specify the cooling capacity of the system in either Btu/h (British thermal units of heat removed per hour) or refrigeration tons (one ton being equal to 12,000 Btu/h).
Much like automobile manufacturers, today’s air conditioner manufacturers are required by law to evaluate and rate their equipment according to its energy efficiency. This rating is known in the industry as a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the equipment.
Most new homes with central air come equipped with a standard builder’s model. However, when replacement becomes necessary, property owners can upgrade their air conditioning by specifying a more energy-efficient system.
High SEER models are generally more expensive, but can easily make up the difference by reducing your home energy bills over the long run.
The compressor is the heart of a condensing unit. On a hot day, it works long and hard. Other features to look for include louvered steel cabinets that protect the coils from damage and expensive repair bills. Also, with some condensing units, the fan can be another source of bothersome noise. Amana units have a grill design that minimizes air restriction for quieter fan operation.