If you’re in the market for a new central air conditioning system, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the choices. How do you know which one is right for your home? What are some of the key features to look for?
In the heat of summer, it may appear that any central air conditioner would suffice. Still, it’s critical to do your homework so you can select the proper unit and assure the best possible performance for your home. In reality, air conditioning raises electricity bills in the summer. During the summer, an air conditioner might account for up to 30% of the total electricity cost. That’s a lot of electricity and a lot of cooling. So, to help you remain cool and save this summer, here’s what to check for before you buy.
What Are Central Air Conditions?
A central air conditioner is a system that uses air to cool a home. The condenser, located outside, pumps refrigerant through a series of coils. As the refrigerant passes through the coils, it absorbs heat from the indoor air and transfers it outdoors.
A central air conditioner also features a furnace blower that circulates air throughout the home. The air is first pulled into the return ductwork, passing over the evaporator coils. As the air passes over the coils, they transfer heat from the air to the refrigerant, cooling the air. The cooled air is then circulated back through the home by the furnace blower.
The benefits of a central air conditioner are many. They are energy efficient, they can save you money on your utility bills, and they can help to improve the indoor air quality of your home. Central air conditioners are also very quiet, so you won’t even know they’re running.
Is Central Air the Best Option for your Home?
Central air conditioning is the best option for a whole-house cooling system. These devices are compact and long-lasting, taking up no space indoors. A unit’s average lifespan is 15 to 20 years. Remember that these units are on the more expensive side of the cooling equipment spectrum. They require professional installation and, depending on your home, may necessitate the addition of ductwork. But, once installed, they are highly effective and efficient.
What Size Central Air Conditioner Do you Need?
When choosing a new central air conditioner, size is a crucial consideration. If a unit is too tiny, it may not be able to keep up on sweltering summer days; if it is too big, it may cycle on and off frequently, resulting in poor air dehumidification and reduced home comfort, and more significant energy expenses.
Although your contractor may assist you in selecting the proper size, determining the cooling capacity required of the space you’d like to cool is a simple approach to get an idea of what you’ll need. British thermal units (BTUs/hour) measure cooling capability. The chart below illustrates how many BTUs you’ll need, dependent on how much space you have.
Which Model Is the Most Appropriate?
You’re ready to start thinking about which model is best for your needs once you’ve chosen what size is suitable for your home. When you’re out shopping, include energy efficiency on your wish list.
You can recognize energy-efficient models in a few ways. First, look for the blue ENERGY STAR® label. The ENERGY STAR® label assists you in identifying systems that deliver the best results while using the least amount of energy. These models consume eight to ten percent less energy than regular models.
An EnerGuide label will be attached to each item. The model type and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which refers to the unit’s cooling efficiency across the whole cooling season, are listed. A SEER scale is included on the label to highlight the range of available models and an indicator that tells where the model sits on the SEER scale.
SEER ratings for central air conditioners range from 10.0 to 17.0. DEPENDING ON THE SYSTEM TYPE, ENERGY STAR units must have a SEER of 12 or higher.
There are also some more energy-saving features to look for, such as:
- Large coils: larger coils conduct heat more efficiently and are frequently quieter.
- Fan-only switch: This option, which you can access from your thermostat, allows you to turn off the unit’s cooling but keep the fan running to circulate air.
- Automatic delay fan switch: This fan switch keeps the fan running so that the unit can still use the cool air even if the compressor is turned off. This feature, like the fan-only option, is controlled by your thermostat.
- Filter indication light: This function indicates when the filter needs to be replaced. A well-maintained air conditioner will operate more efficiently. Make sure it’s serviced once a year.
What’s New in the World of Central Air Conditioning?
If you’re in the market for a new central air conditioner (most last at least a decade), you’ll notice that today’s models are more energy-efficient, meaning they cost less to run while keeping you cool and comfortable.
Ductless air conditioners are also more widely available and less expensive than a decade ago. They can be a fantastic alternative if you’re retrofitting a permanent air conditioning system to a house (or a piece of a house) that doesn’t already have ductwork. Here’s more information on the differences between ducted and ductless air conditioners.
Air Conditioning (Central)
The chilled air is distributed throughout the house by ducts in a natural central air conditioning system. Refrigerant circulates between an interior coil and a matching—that is, from the same brand—outdoor condenser with the compressor in a “split system,” which is the most popular type. A blower circulates air through ducts throughout the house as the refrigerant cools and dehumidifies the air. A thermostat keeps the temperature set at the desired level.
Ductless Split Systems
Split ductless systems contain an outdoor condenser and compressor and one to four or more internal blower units, known as air handlers, that distribute air and are located high on the wall. The power cable, refrigerant tubing, and condensate drain are all housed in a thin conduit that connects the indoor and outdoor parts. Each air handler has a 3-inch hole buried behind it through which the conduit is run. Each air handler cools the room in which it is situated and remotely controls the temperature. Installation by a professional is suggested. While they aren’t technically central air, they are quieter and more efficient than window or portable air conditioners. They can be a more convenient and cost-effective solution than installing an entire central air system.
How Is the Energy Saved in a Central Air Conditioning System?
One way that energy is saved in a central air conditioning system is by using a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat allows you to set the temperature for different times of the day and night. For example, you can set the temperature to be lower when you are asleep or not home and higher when you are awake and home. It can help save energy because the air conditioner will not have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you want. Additionally, central air conditioning systems usually have a higher SEER rating, which means they are more efficient and use less energy.
Another way to save energy with a central air conditioning system is to ensure it is properly maintained. It means having it serviced by a professional at least once a year and ensuring that the filters are clean. Dirty filters can cause the system to work harder, using more energy. Additionally, if there are any leaks in the ductwork, this can also cause the system to use more energy. Regular maintenance performed and keeping the system clean can help it run more efficiently and save energy.
What Is the Most Efficient Way to Use Central Air Conditioning?
The most efficient way to use central air conditioning is to keep the consistent thermostat temperature, and it is also essential to regularly maintain and clean the air conditioner. Additionally, using a programmable thermostat can help save energy by allowing you to set different temperatures for different times of the day.
Is it Cheaper to Leave AC on All Day?
It is not necessarily cheaper to leave the AC on all day, and it depends on the temperature outside and how much you use your AC. If it is hot outside and you use your AC a lot, it will be more expensive to leave it on all day. However, if it is not hot outside or you do not use your AC often, it may be cheaper to leave it on all day. You should consult your energy company to see what they recommend.
What Should You Know About Central Air Conditioning Maintenance?
For best performance, central air conditioning systems require routine maintenance. It’s recommended to negotiate a service plan that includes frequent inspections, repair savings, and a labour warranty as part of the entire price when negotiating your installation. The cost of such a service can vary significantly.
Here’s what you’ll want the technician to take care of: Once a year, have the coils cleaned and flushed, the pan and drainage system drained, and the blower compartments vacuumed. The contractor should also ensure that the system is correctly charged with refrigerant, that no leaks exist, and that all mechanical components are in working order.
Some of the maintenance can also be done on your own. Grilles and filters should be cleaned every month. Check for blockages in the drainpipe and clear debris from the condenser coils. Change the filter according to the AC manufacturer’s instructions and the filter manufacturer’s guidelines for how often you should change it. The thicker the disposable filter, the less frequently it needs to be replaced.
What Are the Most Efficient Central Air Conditioners?
Following are the most efficient central air conditioner:
- Daikin FTXS60LVMA/RU1-60
- LG LW1216HR
- Carrier Infinity 24ANB1
- Trane XL20i
- Goodman SSX160601-A
- Rheem Prestige RA20
- Lennox EL296V
- York Affinity YXV060C10VP11DS
Consult an HVAC Contractor in your Area
Whether you’re replacing an old air conditioner or installing one for the first time, hiring a reliable professional to install and repair the system is critical. Here’s what you should do.
Inquire about it. Seek recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers. It’s a good idea to receive quotes from at least three different contractors.
Look into their background. Contractors bidding on your project should provide you with proof of bonding and insurance and any applicable licenses. Contact your local Better Business Bureau and consumer affairs office for complaint records. It’s a plus if technicians are certified by a trade organization to service residential heating and cooling equipment, such as North American Technician Excellence or HVAC Excellence. These and related programs test a technician’s understanding of various types of equipment and how to service them properly.
Find out more information. Contractors bidding on your project should use a recognized approach, such as the one provided in the ACCA’s Residential Load Calculation Manual, often known as Manual J. Manual D is another resource for determining ductwork requirements. The computations result in a room-by-room study of cooling requirements. A printout of all calculations and assumptions, including ductwork design, should be requested. Be wary of contractors who base their estimates solely on the size of the house or arbitrary rules of thumb.
To Sum it all Up
Central air conditioners are a great way to stay cool during the hot summer months. If you’re looking for one, many different central ACs can best suit your needs: windowless models like ductless mini-splits and through-the-wall systems; split system units with an outdoor condenser and indoor evaporator; and packaged units that have everything self-contained in one unit.
Choosing the suitable model for your home will depend on several factors, like the size of your house, what kind of insulation it has, and whether you have any existing ductwork. Once you’ve decided on the type of air conditioner that will work best for your home, the next step is to find a reputable dealer or contractor to install it.
Installing a central air conditioner can be a big job, so it’s essential to make sure you hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Once your AC is up and running, regular maintenance and cleaning will help to keep it running efficiently for many years to come.