Buying An Air Conditioner: Smart Strategies Part 2

One of the most expensive purchases you will ever make for your home is an air conditioner – whether you are replacing existing equipment or choosing a heating and air-conditioning system for a new home.

Once your AC system is up and running, it could be a decade or more before you replace it. Since you will be living with it for a long time, you want to choose wisely.

If done correctly, a new air conditioner will result in more comfort year-round, lower energy bills and better air quality — particularly because of recent improvements in cooling-equipment technology and installation procedures.

air conditioning, hvac, hvac system

Here are additional basic points to remember during the process:

1. Change your entire HVAC system. If you replace just the outside air conditioner unit with a condenser and compressor without replacing the furnace and air handler, you might not be happy with your comfort level or energy bills.

Those separate units are designed to work together and need to match in capacity and efficiency. Otherwise, you might not get the benefits of the SEER rating promised by the equipment you buy.

2. Understand the SEER rating. In shopping for a new air conditioner system, be sure it has an Energy Star label. Energy Star products, certified by the Environmental Protection Agency, are at least 20 percent more efficient than air-conditioners that meet minimum federal standards.

An Energy Star AC will have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio ranging from 13 to 21. The higher the SEER, the more efficient and less costly your unit will be to operate. An air conditioner with a rating in the middle will probably work best and pay for itself more quickly than units with the highest ratios and prices.

3. Consider improving your duct work. Even the most energy-efficient unit will underperform when coupled with bad ducts. Many homes in Arizona actually lose much of their cooling and heating capacity due to leaky air ducts.

According to an APS study, as much as 33 percent of the potential heating and cooling could be leaking out. You may need to reseal or reconnect ducts or reroute their path through your house.

4. Consider more than price. That lowest bid might come from someone who hasn’t analyzed your ducts and filtration system. That contractor might not include a decent guarantee, either; some reputable firms guarantee parts and labor for five to 10 years.

– Rosie Romero


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2015-06-25T16:24:16+00:00