How to Choose an Air Conditioner for Your Home
Air conditioners are more than a luxury today. With summers getting unexpectedly hot and humid in many cities, air-conditioners have become a necessity. And it’s important to put some thought into buying your unit, because factors like energy efficiency and maximum comfort for your family will have to be taken into account.
The best units will be energy efficient and keep your utility bills down. Regular maintenance will keep the unit in perfect condition for years. The best systems will be long-lasting, have quiet performances and will not need a lot of servicing.
Choosing the Right Air Conditioner for Your Home
Here is a look at the factors you should take into account when choosing an air conditioner.
1. Type of Air Conditioner
There are effectively three types of home air conditioning systems available to you. The ‘central’ or ‘split’ system is the most common in homes. In this setup, the conditioner unit is located outside the home. You can mount it on an external wall bracket or keep it on a stone or concrete pad outdoors. The evaporator coil is built indoors (usually in the duct system above the furnace) and narrow copper pipes carry the refrigerant from the outdoor to the indoor unit. A heating or cooling thermostat allows you to control the temperature. You can use the preset features to save energy, by cooling the home when your family is inside and setting it to warm when the home is empty.
‘Mini-split’ air conditioning systems are ideal for homes that do not have a furnace duct system. These air conditioners are ductless and useful in homes that have a boiler system or a baseboard heating system. This type of air conditioning system has an outdoor and indoor unit similar to the split air-conditioner. But the indoor unit has a fan that distributes cool air. It is usually mounted on the wall or the ceiling.
High-velocity air conditioning systems are becoming common in town houses and new homes. They are compact, combine cooling and heating, can be fitted into a closet and don’t need traditional duct systems.
A fourth type is the packaged unit that is usually used in commercial spaces. But some homes also use this kind of system, which contains all the elements of a split system in one unit. Single packaged units are mounted on the roof or the wall and also need sheet metal duct systems to transport cool air.
2. Effective Size
The size of your air conditioner is important. A unit that is too small for a room will not be able to effectively cool it, leading to wastage of energy. Likewise for units that are too large for a room. To choose the right size, measure the dimensions of your room. Calculate the square footage of the room and the cooling capacity the room or home needs. Match it with recommended guidelines, like the US Department of Energy Energy Star site suggests – 5000 to 7000 BTU for 100 to 300 sq feet and so forth. You can also consult a contractor to determine the size you need based on your cooling requirements, window sizes, climate, insulation, floor space etc.
3. Energy Efficiency
The latest air conditioners are built with the latest energy efficient technologies as people become more conscious of global warming and rising energy costs. Efficiency of an air conditioning unit is rated by the SEER value (which is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher it is the more efficient the system. New homes come with standard models, but when replacing them, homeowners can look for more energy efficient systems. Average SEER ratings of standard units today is 10. The most energy efficient unit has a rating of 14. Models with high SEER values are more expensive, but this balances out with the subsequent lowering of your utility bills. The government may also encourage you to purchase high SEER units by offering rebates on certain units.
These are the most essential factors to consider when buying an air conditioner for your home. But you can also features like steel cabinets for the unit that will protect the inner coils. This will bring down repair costs in turn. Make sure that the condensing unit doesn’t have a noisy fan. You can also cut costs and bring down utility bills by keeping your unit well-maintained. Monthly cleaning of the furnace filters and a technician’s visit once a year are enough to achieve this.
Keep these pointers in mind when purchasing an air conditioner for your home. You will find the process can be a cost-effective and painless experience, and bring you, your family and pets comfortable summers no matter the temperature outdoors!