Buying a new air conditioner is a big decision for every homeowner, irrespective of their financial status. It is mostly so because your comfort at home depends on the AC to a very large extent. Before you begin the search for the most appropriate air conditioner, you should first search for a licensed and reliable HVAC contractor in your vicinity. Once the right contractor is chosen, the rest of the things will smoothly fall in place as they will guide you through every step of the decision-making process. Having said that, it is still good to know a few things beforehand. This knowledge will save you a lot of time.
3 Most Important HVAC Terms
The HVAC industry has many technical terms that may confuse you. However, as a homeowner looking to buy a new AC, you just need to know 3 of them. We will discuss these terms in detail below, but here they are at a glimpse:
1. SEER rating or the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.
2. Tonnage or the cooling capacity of the air conditioner.
3. Thermostat or the device used for setting the desired temperature.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
SEER is the ratio of an air conditioner’s cooling capacity (in British Thermal Unit) to the power used (in Watts). The higher the SEER, the better the unit’s efficiency. It translates to the fact that a unit that works efficiently consumes less power. An important point to keep in mind is that the SEER rating is the unit’s maximum potential. It does not mean that the unit will always perform at that ratio. It just means that your AC will not exceed and cross the given value.
If your AC was purchased prior to the year 2005, it would probably have a SEER rating of 8 or 9. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 updated the old norm and set the new minimum standard at 13 SEER. However, every state can set its own minimum SEER standard as long as it is not below 13 SEER. If your old AC is around 15 years old, you can well imagine the instant savings that a new AC will provide due to its improved efficiency.
The SEER rating of most modern air conditioners ranges between 13 to 21. Only those ACs that have a SEER value of 14.5 or more qualify for ENERGY STARⓇ. In general, for any homeowner, a good SEER value will be anywhere between 14 to 16 or more.
Here is a chart that shows the savings in energy bills for different SEER values.
|SEER Rating||Savings In Energy Costs|
If you see carefully, you will realize that the savings between two consecutive SEER values are not much, but if you jump one SEER value in between, you can save a substantial amount more than before.
Tonnage is the cooling capacity of an AC. Needless to say, it has nothing to do with weight. In the HVAC field, a ton is a term that tells the amount of heat an AC can remove from a home in an hour. An air conditioner of 1 ton can remove 12,000 BTUs of air in one hour. Similarly, an AC of 3 tons can remove 36,000 BTUs (12,000 x 3) and so on and so forth. The more the tonnage of an air conditioner, the more air it can cool. Following closely on the heels of this fact is yet another, the higher the tonnage, the greater the energy costs.
Most homes need 1 ton of AC to cool 400 to 1,000 square feet of space. The tonnage increases as the space increases. If you are buying a new air conditioner, immediately or in the near future, the best course of action is to buy one that is ENERGY STAR certified.
A thermostat is a device used to control the fan speed and set the desired temperature on the AC. Gone are the days of the traditional analog thermostats where you had to manually change the temperature every time you went out or came back in. They were so tedious that most of the time, homeowners did not bother to switch them off, and if they did, they came back to a home that was hot and uncomfortable.
Programmable thermostats are a definite improvement over the traditional thermostats. These can be programmed to suit your daily needs. For example, if you have a fixed time of going to the office and coming back, you can program the thermostat at a slightly higher temperature for the duration that you are away. It will automatically cool the house as per the program. You don’t have to go and change it every time. One program will suffice all your needs.
Yet another step forward are the smart thermostats. These are not only programmable but can also connect to your home wifi. So, even if you are away from home, you can still program them as long as there is decent internet connectivity.
Other Things To Know When Buying A New Air Conditioner
1. Always buy a unit that fits the size of your home the best. Buying a larger unit is not a good decision as your utility bills will increase, and a unit that is small in size will not cool your home sufficiently. In both cases, you lose.
2. Be sure to buy a good quality system. Usually, all reputable brands will satisfy this core requirement. Quality costs more but gives fewer problems, so in the long run, they serve you better.
3. See the features offered by different brands and purchase the one that meets all your needs. It is not necessary to buy an AC that is fully loaded.
In The End
Whenever you are confused and unable to make up your mind about buying a new air conditioner, ask your local HVAC contractor for advice. With their help, you can never go wrong.
Residents of West Palm Beach, Florida, can contact the trained and professional team of Aztil AC for any HVAC related queries and concerns. We can be reached anytime at +1-888-729-8452.