Frequently Asked AC/Heating Questions
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, dependable 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 contractor will determine the optimum size for your home by making a careful study of your cooling requirements. Window dimensions and exposure. Floor space, insulation and local climate. Heat-generating appliances. The direction your home faces. Even the amount of your home’s exterior shaded by trees.
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).
How long can I expect a new system to last?
If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.
Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?
You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.
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. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the equipment.
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.
Why can’t I find the correct size filter at my local home improvement store?
Sometimes, the filter required by your unit is made from higher-quality materials than those of the disposable filters found in retail stores. For that reason, replacement filters can only be purchased from the manufacturer, but keep in mind, some filters are reusable, and can be washed by hand in cold water.