How to Shop for a New Air Conditioner
A Few Cool Things to Know Before You Make Your Next Air Conditioning Purchase!
With summer upon us, thoughts naturally turn to your home’s air conditioning system. Is it ready to handle the summer heat? Could it use a tune-up? Any air conditioning repairs that you’ve been putting off? Or perhaps it’s time to purchase a new air conditioning system altogether.
Buying a new air conditioner can be a scary process, especially if it’s been a while since you purchased one. Trying to sort through the noise of commercials, advertisements, brand names, promotions, rebates, and special offers can send any homeowner into a tailspin. As with any significant investment, it pays to take your time and do your research before committing to an air conditioning purchase. There are five main factors you should look at to help you compare air conditioners and air conditioning systems.
1. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER)
Air conditioners are rated on a scale from 10 to 17. The higher the SEER, the more expensive the unit. While this may serve as a deterrent for some, it should help to know that a high SEER value also means a longer warranty, less maintenance, and lower utility bills. On the other hand, a low SEER value makes for a less expensive air conditioner, but the warranty, rebates, and energy efficiency are also lower. Units with a low SEER rating also cost more to operate.
Anything with a SEER value less than 10 is well below current government and industry standards; these units aren’t even an option in new construction. Be wary of companies that still market 9 and 10 SEER units at deep discounts. These systems are already out of date. For cooling products sold on the market today, the government requires a minimum SEER rating of 13.0.
If you’re considering purchasing a heat pump to meet both your cooling and heating needs, you’ll need to know its HSPF rating. HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is a term used in the heating and cooling industry to measure the efficiency of air source heat pumps. HSPF is measured on a scale of 1-10. The higher the HSPF rating of a unit, the more energy efficient it is. All new heat pumps manufactured after 2005 are required to have an HSPF of at least 7.7. A heat pump with an HSPFgreater than or equal to 8 can be considered high efficiency.
3. Matching Your Living Plans
If there’s a chance you could move in a year or two, it may not make sense to invest in a high efficiency air conditioner. However, if you are preparing new construction, have just moved into your home, or plan to stay in your home for several more years it makes sense to consider a high efficiency air conditioning system. You can expect to recover at least the cost of your purchase in a short amount of time thanks to energy and repair savings.
A highly efficient air conditioner will definitely boost your home’s resale value, but you aren’t likely to get your initial investment back. Still, if energy efficiency or environmental responsibility is your main objective, buying a new and efficient air conditioning system is always worth the cost.
4. Compare Warranties
Better units will have a longer warranty. Some air conditioning manufacturers offer as much as a 10-year warranty, which means they will repair your air conditioning unit for any reason for the first ten years that you own the system. Often, warranties can be extended to a new homeowner in the event that you sell your house before the protection expires; many air conditioning companies offer these for a nominal fee at the time of purchase.
5. Choose a Reliable Air Conditioning Contractor
Look for someone who is willing to communicate with you, who is properly licensed and insured, and who will supply you with a list of customer references. Check and double-check everything, including references, and take the time to make the right decision for you.