Buying an Air Conditioner: How to Get the Most From Your Investment
Buying a new air conditioner can be like purchasing a new car. It’s an investment in a major piece of machinery that should last for at least 10 years, if you choose correctly. And just like car shoppers, people looking for a new air conditioner expect a combination of reliability and efficiency.
That’s why it is so important to do your research and make an informed decision when it comes to buying a new air conditioning unit.
Below, you’ll find a few helpful pointers that should make the research and buying process easier for you.
What Size Air Conditioner Do You Need?
Determining the size of the air conditioner you need is a crucial aspect. The size of a unit is based primarily on the square footage of your home. Air conditioners are sized by the ton. For instance, if your home is between 1,200 and 1,400 square feet, you would need a three-ton air conditioning unit.
The air conditioner needs to be large and powerful enough to cool your home without being too big. If an air conditioner is too large, it will use up an excessive amount of energy and cycle on and off more frequently, putting unneeded wear on your system.
Other factors will play a role, including the efficiency of your home. Will your ductwork need repair? Is your attic insulation letting too much heat through? Older homes with more air loss may need to purchase a larger sized unit to compensate for the added loss.
How Efficient Will the Air Conditioner Be?
Today’s air conditioners are more energy efficient than ever. Air conditioner efficiency is determined by the SEER rating. This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The numerical ratings determine how efficient a particular air conditioner will be. The higher the number, the more efficient.
This aspect is actually regulated by the federal government to ensure that manufacturers are creating efficient models. As of recently, the minimum SEER for new units must be 14 or higher. To put that into perspective, a new 14 SEER unit will use 40 percent less energy than a unit of the same size, but manufactured between eight and ten years ago.
What Features Will You Need?
Modern technology allows you to have more control than ever before over how to fine tune your air conditioner. You can go with a traditional thermostat or one that is easily programmed or controlled remotely via mobile app.
Using a programmable thermostat is highly recommended. This allows you to adjust the temperature and control your energy usage during times when you will be away from home. The next step up would be a smart thermostat, which can be controlled remotely. These thermostats will actually learn your daily habits and adjust accordingly to maximize efficiency.
The older, dial type thermostat should not be used, as you would have to remember to manually change the temperature when you are leaving home. The best way to ensure you get the features you need in a thermostat is to speak with a qualified installer.
Choose a Reputable Contractor
Perhaps the most important aspect of having an air conditioner installed is finding a quality contractor to do the work. The company you choose should be licensed, bonded and insured. This means you’ll be protected should the company you hire to perform this important job not live up to its end of the bargain.
You should also take a look at what other customers are saying about the company. You can check out online reviews, testimonials and even ask the company for references. Of course, the contractor you choose should have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Buying a new air conditioner doesn’t have to be intimidating or stressful. By implementing some of the pointers mentioned above, you can make a smart decision and have the peace of mind in knowing your unit was installed by a professional.
About the Author: Mike Donley is the owner of Donley Service Center, a full service air conditioning installation and repair contractor in Phoenix, Arizona. He enjoys writing about issues related to the air conditioning industry and helping consumers make informed decisions when they are buying a new air conditioner, or having one repaired.