Central air will keep your family content indoors during summer months, and it will also renew and improve the air quality in your home. Before you make the long-term investment in a central air conditioner, take these 5 considerations into account.
Your home’s cooling load is the amount of cooling your system must provide to offer sufficient comfort. This varies according to the size of your home, wall insulation levels, size of windows and doors, and more. Ideally, your unit should be sized by an air conditioning contractor, taking into account all the necessary factors.
Don’t wing it when it comes to estimating size. Buying a unit that is too large won’t adequately remove humidity in the air, which will result in a damp home. An undersized unit won’t sufficiently maintain a comfortable temperature on very hot days.
Heating and cooling account for approximately 40 – 60% of energy costs. Choose the most energy efficient central air system you can find to keep your energy bills and your environmental impact low.
An ENERGY STAR qualified product is the mark of high-efficiency products in Canada. To meet these guidelines, a central air conditioning systems must have a minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating of 14.5 or higher. While initial investment in one of these systems may be higher, your savings from lower energy use will accumulate over it’s lifetime.
Newer, energy-efficient models tend to be quieter than those produced in years past, but there is still a variety in sound levels of different products on the market today. Sound rating of air conditioners is expressed in bels. The lower the sound rating, the lower the sound emitted by the outdoor unit. Select a system with an outdoor sound rating of about 7.6 B or lower.
While the warranty on your equipment will vary according to the manufacturer, many top rated models will be covered up to 10 years. Look for a long warranty, and be sure to read the fine print so you fully understand the terms of a warranty and what maintenance is required to be performed by a dealer.
A reputable contractor is an important part of your investment. As with any major service, ask friends for referrals and get firm quotes from other contractors.
Your contractor should be able to calculate the cooling load for the house, provide you with information on the unit and it’s SEER rating, answer any questions you have about the warranty, and to offer a service contract on the installation.
- To make sure you get the most out of your air conditioner system, check and replace your filters monthly in summer months, and clean or change them when dirty. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and can reduce a system’s efficiency.
- Like dirty filters, dirty indoor and outdoor coils reduce airflow through the system. This reduction can decrease system efficiency and lead to compressor damage. Outdoor coils should be vacuumed or brushed clean to keep it free of dirt and leaves. Then it can be carefully cleaned with a garden hose.
- Indoors, be sure that vents are not blocked by furniture, carpets, or other items that hinder airflow. Inadequate airflow can lead to compressor damage.
Balance comfort with energy and cost savings – reduce the impact of air conditioning on your energy bill by using a programmable thermostat and maintaining it properly. Find out more ways you can save energy in your home all year round.