How To Choose The Best Central
Knowing how to choose which air conditioner to install in your home can be the key to happiness. That’s certainly true in many parts of Florida, where scorching summer heat and high humidity makes air conditioning nearly as essential to survival as food and water.
But, although the need for air conditioning and heating in this world is simple, it’s not as simple when you need to choose the right air conditioning unit for your home. There are important factors to consider, including the type, size of the AC unit, the efficiency rating, the warranty, and name brand as well as the financial incentives that can reduce the overall cost.
The Basics of Central Air Conditioning
In the middle of August, cool air blowing from a vent in your living room can seem almost magical. But the question of “How does air conditioning work?” is answered with science rather than something like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Central air conditioning works much like a refrigerator in your home. When warm air blows across the inside evaporator coil in the air conditioning unit, the heat energy in the air is transferred to the refrigerant inside the evaporator coil. A blower pushes the refreshing, cooler air throughout your home while the heat is collected by the condenser and squeezed like a sponge to the outside of your home.
Finding Your Match: What Size Unit Do I Need?
Bigger isn’t always better. In fact, an air conditioning unit that is too large for a particular space is not only inefficient, it can also make a room uncomfortable. Air conditioning units are designed to remove heat and humidity from a room, but if an oversized AC unit cools the room before the humidity is removed, the air can feel damp and clammy. (See the tab for sizes (System Size Chart | Ranger Air and Heat)
A properly trained AC technician can also help you determine the size that is right for your home. He or she can perform a heat load calculation, which determines the size of the AC unit that is proper for your home. In addition to square footage, this calculation factors in other variables like:
The number of Residents in your home
Amount of direct sun exposure
Quality and Quantity of Insulation
Regional Climate and front door direction
Efficiency and Its Effect on Your Wallet
Your dad might have annoyed you with sayings like “shut the door, we’re not cooling the whole neighborhood,” but he did have a good reason to say it. According to the Florida Energy Commission, heating and cooling account for nearly half — roughly 45 percent — of all energy costs. The more efficient an air conditioning unit is, the less energy it will require to do its job, making it cost less to operate.
But, when you’re deciding how to choose a central air conditioner for your home, how do you know which AC units are the most efficient? The efficiency of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC unit) is measured by SEER, an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating.
Getting to Know the SEER Rating
The higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently a unit will operate.
Many years ago, it was not uncommon to find AC units with SEER ratings of 6-10. This is no longer a reality, starting on 1/1/2023 all new Air Conditioning units in the southern U.S. must have a minimum SEER rating of 15.
Do all AC systems name brands has a SEER Rating?
There are premium systems like Carrier, Trane and Lennox with SEER rating ranging from 15 to 26.
There are Standard systems like Rheem, Ruud, Tempstar, Comfort maker, ETC with SEER ratings ranging from 15 to 19 only.
Then there are budget systems like Goodman, Grandaire, Air flow, Run True, ETC that only go up to a 16 SEER rating.
Is a Higher SEER Rating Always the Best Choice?
Air conditioning units with higher SEER ratings can be quite a bit more expensive than units with lower SEER ratings. But, considering the lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 10-15 years, the extra cost up front can be regained through annual energy savings.
There’s more to consider, however. The value of the more expensive, higher-SEER models also depends on how much you will use the HVAC system. Some people, for example, will set a home’s thermostat at 75 degrees in the peak summer months while others will set it at 70. For the home with the lower thermostat setting, and therefore a higher demand of the AC unit, a higher SEER rating offers more energy savings. (Lower Electrical Bill)
The truth is that there is no “one size fits all” solution when choosing a central air conditioner for your home, it’s your decision. But there are some helpful resources for determining your potential SEER efficiency savings:
This SEER Energy Savings Calculator from www.seersavings.org is much easier to use and is just as fast.
A Few More Things to Consider
Warranty – The duration of the warranty is important, along with the terms. For example, some warranties can be voided if someone other than a certified licensed technician makes repairs to the unit. In addition to the warranty on the HVAC system, you’ll want to ask about the warranty for the new A/C installation. There are basically two types of warranties, Parts and Labor. Sometimes dependent on the manufacturer there could be an additional replacement warranty.
Air Conditioning Noise levels – Air conditioning units all make some noise when they operate, but some are quieter than others. An HVAC system with a variable-speed blower will be quieter because it doesn’t have to run at high speed all the time. (It also uses less energy). Another new technology you can ask about is noise-reducing fan blades.
Financial Incentives – Because newer air conditioning and heating systems save energy, government tax credits are often available for those who decide on an air conditioning replacement. Those tax credits can be found online, and professionals in air conditioning installation will also know about them. Normally those credits are for the higher SEER rating systems
We all love those days when the weather is absolutely perfect, but there’s a reason why central heating and air conditioning systems are so prevalent in our lives. We spend a lot of time inside, and more than 75 percent of U.S. homes have air conditioning and 90 percent of new homes are constructed with central air conditioning.
When it’s time for a new air conditioning unit, remember these things:
Find the right fit. Decide on the type of HVAC system that is right for your home and get the correct size. If there’s any doubt, have an AC professional perform a heat load calculation.
Consider the SEER rating. Weigh how much the energy savings will offset the cost of a higher-efficiency unit.
Check on the warranty. Although new HVAC units are designed to have long lifespans, you want the peace of mind of a good warranty.
Know your installer. Check to make sure your A/C installation technician is certified by the manufacturer of your new HVAC system. Check the online Reviews.
With these tips, you can feel confident as you consider how to choose your new central air conditioner.
Are you ready to make your home, and your world, a little more comfortable?