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Acquiring a New Air Conditioner: Guidelines for Shopping and Installation

Investing in a new air conditioner doesn’t require you to become an expert about these appliances, since you can rely on the knowledge that the HVAC contractor provides, but it does help to know something about them. You’re satisfaction, comfort, cooling costs and system longevity depend on the decisions you make beforehand. Sizing, energy efficiency and installation should drive your decisions about a new A/C system.

Sizing

When you’re interviewing contractors, choose one who will conduct a load calculation for your home using Manual J software. Going by the size of the existing equipment could be misleading, since any improvements to your home’s energy efficiency could make a difference in the size of A/C you need. Plus the same size unit today is likely to be much more efficient than it was 10 years ago. Anything you do to seal air leaks, add insulation and improve window efficiency may reduce the size of the A/C you need, which will save money.

Installing a system that’s too big for your home will cause it to run in short spurts, which drives up energy bills, contributes to excessive wear, and leaves humidity behind. One that’s too small won’t keep you as cool during exceptionally hot weather.

Energy efficiency

The minimum energy efficiency rating for a new central air conditioner currently stands at 13 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio). Anything above 13 will save you even more on cooling costs. Each numeric increase in the SEER rating drops your cooling bills by 10 percent. For example, choosing a 15 SEER over a 13 SEER system will reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. It’s usually worth it to spend a little more on the new system upfront to realize lower monthly energy bills for years to come.

Installation

The contractor needs to carefully inspect your existing ducts to verify that they’re tight and the right design and size to work with your new equipment. The outdoor condenser will perform better if it’s placed in a shady location, away from vegetation that could block the airflow.

To learn more about a new air conditioner for your Metro-East home, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC services for the southwest Illinois area, including Glen Carbon, Highland and Greenville, since 1954.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about new air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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