Choosing a system

Selecting an air conditioner for your home or business is a big decision. It’s an important investment today. It will play a key role in your home energy expenses for years to come. And when the summer heat is at its worst, you’ll want your family to have the best, most reliable cooling comfort possible. Here are a few things to consider.

* What do good central air units have in common?
* How can I be sure my Unit is the right size?
* Which air conditioners are energy efficient?
* Are some air conditioners built better than others?
* What should I look for in a dealer?

What do good central air units have in common?
The best ones are efficient, operating on minimal electricity to hold utility bills down. They provide steady, reliable performance year after year when properly maintained. Good systems are quiet, long-lasting and low in service needs.

How can I be sure my Unit is the right size?
Obviously, an air conditioner that’s too small won’t keep your home sufficiently cool. But what many don’t realize is that an oversized system will cycle (turn on and off) more than necessary, wasting expensive energy and possibly putting undue strain on the compressor.

A good dealer will determine the optimum size for your home by making a careful study of your cooling requirements and assessing the heat load.

The heat load depends on a number of factors, by taking into account those that apply in your circumstances and adding them together a reasonably accurate measure of the total heat can be calculated.

Factors include:

* The floor area of the room
* The size and position of windows, and whether they have blinds or shades
* The number of room occupants (if any)
* The heat generated by equipment
* The heat generated by lighting

He’ll specify the cooling capacity of the system in either Btu/h (British thermal units of heat removed per hour) or refrigeration tons (one ton being equal to 12,000 Btu/h).

Which air conditioners are energy efficient?
Much like automobile manufacturers, today’s air conditioner manufacturers are required by law to evaluate and rate their equipment according to its energy efficiency. This rating is known in the industry as a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and is a standard set by the U.S. Government. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the equipment. Currently all new equipment installed must be rated at a minimum of 13 SEER.

Most new homes with central air come equipped with a standard builder’s model. However, when replacement becomes necessary, property owners can upgrade their air conditioning by specifying a more energy-efficient system.

High SEER models are generally more expensive, but can easily make up the difference by reducing your home energy bills over the long run.

Are some air conditioners built better than others?
The compressor is the heart of a condensing unit. On a hot day, it works long and hard. Both Ruud and American Standard both have highly efficient units with scroll compressors. Scroll Compressors are recognized by the industry as the leader in reliability, efficiency and quiet operation.

Other features to look for include louvered steel cabinets that protect the coils from damage and expensive repair bills.

Also, with some condensing units, the fan can be another source of bothersome noise. Ruud units have a grill design that minimizes air restriction for quieter fan operation.

What should I look for in a dealer?
Reliability. Look for a dealer you see in your community. You want one who’s close by to provide you faster, more convenient service. Also consider the longevity of the dealership – if they have been around for a number of years they must be doing something right in servicing their customers.

A reputable dealer should offer a recognized name brand. And he should have a well-stocked inventory of replacement parts. A good dealer will also offer rapid response to emergency repair needs. You wouldn’t want to sit out a mid-summer heat wave waiting for a simple repair!

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