Shopping for an air conditioner can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. Air conditioners come in a variety of sizes, each of which greatly impacts energy efficiency, performance and price.
How to Choose the Right Size Air Conditioner for Your Home
For air conditioners, bigger isn’t always better. There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right size, and many of these factors can’t be figured out by the homeowner. For this reason, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an HVAC specialist.
Factors that Affect a Home’s Cooling Needs
The HVAC specialist will do a thorough consultation in your home that includes going over various physical aspects of your living space. The factors will help determine your home’s cooling needs include:
- The total volume of your home’s living space (aside from merely the square footage)
- The area of the exterior walls that are exposed to the sun
- How many windows your home has, as well as the condition, age and orientation of the windows (north, south, etc.)
- How much sun your home gets
- When your home was constructed
- The level of insulation
- If the existing ductwork and ventilation system work properly
- How much shade the home gets from trees and shrubs
How SEER Affects an Air Conditioner’s Energy Efficiency
Once you’ve determined what size air conditioner to get for your home, you’ll then want to pick one with the appropriate SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating. A system’s SEER rating represents its level of energy efficiency. Units with higher SEER ratings are generally more expensive, so you’ll want to balance what you can afford with what will provide you the best savings. Higher efficiency models require less energy and therefore lower your monthly utility bills, so they can save you money in the long run. For each increment, your unit will use approximately 5 percent less energy. For instance, if you upgraded from a 12 SEER to a 16 SEER, your unit would be about 20 percent more efficient. Good SEER ratings are between 16 and 23.
Buying a new air conditioner is a big investment and requires careful thought and consideration. A quality air conditioner should last you many years, so you’ll want to make sure you choose something dependable for the long run. When you’re able to select an HVAC system that will really work for your home, you’re able to enjoy quality cooling that’s worth every penny.
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