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How to Buy a New Air Conditioner (Part Two)

Considering a new air conditioner?

We’re here to help you know if it’s more optimal to repair versus replace your existing AC, if that’s the decision you’re faced with. With no pressure, we want you to make the best decision based on all the available information known.

With that in mind, it’s a given that you should expect upfront, honest information from your HVAC contractor to help you make that decision.

You also want a quality brand that will be high-performing for years, and you need HVAC technicians you can trust to properly size your system and to do the installation right. Check out part one of our two-part blog series to get caught up on what you need to know before buying a new air conditioner.

Then continue reading below for more tips that can help you:

Make Sure to Do a Load Calculation

A load calculation will help you understand which unit size is best suited for your specific needs. Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you do college-level calculus. But there will be a little bit of math involved. Grab your calculator—or if your eyes start to glaze over know that we’re here to help you with the optimal system for your home or building. Said another way, we can walk you through what you need to know!

To get a general sense of the required tonnage you’ll need, here is what you would normally need to know:

  • Multiple your home’s square footage by 30.
  • Divide that by 12,000.
  • Subtract 1.0

So here’s what it looks like for a 2,000 square foot home:

  • (2,000 x 30)/12,000 – 1.0 = 4 
  • (60,000)/12,000 – 1.0 = 4
  • 5 – 1.0 = 4

So, in this instance, an average American 2,000 square foot home would (roughly) require a 4-ton A/C unit. *Note: for warmer areas such as in the Southwest, this calculation may yield an undersized unit. In these cases, subtract 0 instead of 1.0* This just gives you a general idea of the kind of calculation one would do.

Although this calculation will certainly give you a better idea of where you should be in regards to size, it’s best to consult an expert HVAC team to help guide you through your specific needs. The type of insulation you have in your home, the amount of shade your home gets, the average temperature, design considerations, how a facility is being used (if not a home), and even your home’s ceiling height are all factors that should be considered when choosing system size (3).

Figure Out if the Unit Meets Your Efficiency Requirements

Another important piece to consider when buying a new air conditioner is its efficiency rating. Efficiency plays a huge role in the amount of money that it costs to operate a system. You might think you’re getting a stellar deal for a high-quality A/C unit, but if you neglect to check its efficiency rating, you could be stuck dishing out too much cash each month on your energy bill.

You will frequently see the terms “EER” and “SEER.” Both are important, and both indicate a form of official efficiency rating. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio, while SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

EER is essentially a snapshot of a system’s efficiency measured at a given time in a warm climate. On the other hand, SEER is a measurement that indicates the efficiency of a system over a long period of time (hence the word “seasonal!”) For buyers in more mild climates, having a system that can operate efficiently in an array of different seasons is important. In this case, although it is important to take note of both ratings, experts say that SEER should be the metric that takes priority (4).

For a closer look on what these ratings translate to in dollars, the Department of Energy offers energy efficiency calculators that are easy to use. With a tool like this, it’s much easier to pinpoint how high or low you really need the unit’s rating to be (5).

Learn About AC Maintenance

Scheduling regular tune-ups in addition to understanding what you can do to maintain your system is one of the most significant ways you can ensure that it lasts for as long as possible. In addition, as we always say, you’ll need to change out your air filters as consistently as possible.

In between scheduled maintenance checks with your HVAC team, here are a few simple things that you can do to maintain your A/C unit:

  • Keep the area around the unit clean
  • Routinely replace its filters (worth repeating!)
  • Check your evaporator coils annually
  • Protect and cover your A/C unit in the winter

As mentioned in our last post, you do want to choose an HVAC company that has a preventative maintenance program. This can help you save and it can ensure your system is properly maintained.

Why You Need to Maintain Your AC

Just like it’s important to maintain your car, it’s important to maintain your A/C unit! For more reasons than one, regular tune-ups will save you money (and headaches) in the long-run. Here’s how:

It Prevents Those Undesirable Surprises

Regular tune-up helps prevent any malfunction surprises with your unit. When an expert HVAC team is able to clean and inspect your air conditioner, they’re ensuring that it’s running just as it should.

It Ensures Proper Airflow

Over time, your system can experience limited or restricted airflow, which can translate to a higher energy bill for you. A regular maintenance check will work to correct this.

It Keeps You Safe

Regular maintenance ensures your electrical components are working as they should. Running the risk of having any dangerous carbon monoxide levels are present? Not worth it.

It Improves Energy Efficiency

The inspection and cleaning of your system ensures safe operation. Taking measures to keep your unit running as efficiently as possible translates to saved money!

At Greater Comfort, our maintenance program that makes it easy to keep up with tune-ups. We inspect and record an extensive list of items that can affect the efficiency of your system. To name a few:

  • Refrigerant charge
  • Refrigerant temperatures
  • Compressor amp draws
  • Condenser fan amp draws
  • Evaporator temperature drop
  • Evaporator fan motor amp draws
  • Mega OHM compressor windings
  • Verify proper thermostat operation & program
  • Inspect contractors
  • Disconnects & wiring
  • Tightening all electrical connections
  • Blowing out all condensate drains for debris and verifying proper operation

Turn to  Greater Comfort for Your Air Conditioning Installation

If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to the potential of an AC install, we’ve got you covered. We’ll discuss your A/C needs, help you size your system, explore efficiency ratings, and much more so you can have peace of mind that the investment you are making has a clear ROI. We’re never going to pressure you into making an investment; we want what is best for you. Call 859-491-4915 or reach out to us on our website today.

Sources for further reading – from both blogs in this series:

  1. https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/how-to-choose-a-contractor-hvac/
  2. https://www.hasslefreehvac.com/new-ac-unit/
  3. https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/what-size-central-air-conditioner-for-my-house/
  4. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-do-hvac-energy-efficiency-ratings-mean.htm
  5. https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/energy-and-cost-savings-calculators-energy-efficient-products
  6. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner
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