Looking for a new AC installation can be an overwhelming task, especially when your current AC is broken or on the verge of total breakdown. When the heat rolls in and your thermostat’s reading nearly triple digits, it can be tempting to pick the first unit in front of you.
Don’t do that. There’s a lot of vital information to consider when selecting your next AC unit installation. These factors are crucial not only to your comfort but also to your finances in the long run.
Energy Efficiency and SEER Rating
AC unit installation cost may be at the front of your mind when thinking about a new AC installation, but the first thing you should consider is the SEER rating.
The acronym SEER stands for Season Energy Efficiency Ratio, usually represented by a number 14 to 25 or more. These figures describe the level of energy efficiency of a particular AC unit.
Typically, a higher SEER rating means a more expensive AC unit. However, that unit could save you more money in the long run. For instance, a unit with a SEER rating of 22 or higher could save you over 40% on your energy bill each month.
Those savings will pile up in a few years, and eventually, they will basically pay for your AC unit installation cost. Every month after that is purely a bonus. Think about how much that adds up to during the 10-12 year lifespan of your AC unit.
For quick reference, 14 is generally the lowest rating for most home air conditioning units. A very high SEER rating is around 25, although ductless mini-split systems reach even higher scores of 30 or more.
The Importance of Annual AC Tune-Ups
Typically, AC tune-ups and maintenance are something you would think of after getting a new AC installation, but you should start thinking now. Many people tend to forget to maintain their AC units over time, leading to otherwise avoidable damage, health risks, and diminished energy efficiency.
Just like a high-efficiency unit saves you money, yearly maintenance on your new unit will help you economize, too.
So before you get your new AC unit installed, be sure to talk to your HVAC technician about any maintenance program offerings they may have. If your new unit comes with a warranty, you might want to check the terms and conditions on that, as well. For example, most warranties specify that you must perform annual maintenance on your unit to prevent malfunctions and unnecessary repairs. Otherwise, your warranty may be void.
You might have heard the term BTUs thrown around when discussing HVAC equipment. If you don’t already know what BTU means, it stands for British Thermal Unit. A BTU describes the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1° F. In the case of air conditioning, it’s the amount of energy needed to decrease a pound of water by 1° F.
Different AC units have different BTU ratings. A higher rating essentially means that a particular AC unit can cool a larger space more quickly and more efficiently than a unit with a lower BTU rating. You need to consider this because a unit with a BTU that’s too low won’t cool your entire home well enough. A unit with a BTU that’s too high will not be energy-efficient for your space and will cost you extra on your monthly bills.
If you need to calculate how many BTUs your unit will need to support your home correctly, a good rule of thumb is to multiply your home’s square footage by 20. A 1,000-square-foot home will need about 20,000 BTUs, and a 2,000-square-foot home will need 40,000 BTUs, and so on.
Another way you might encounter this number is through tonnage. Don’t worry! Tonnage doesn’t describe the weight of the unit. Instead, tonnage represents the number of BTUs of heat that an AC unit can remove from your home in one hour. For instance, a one-ton unit will remove up to 12,000 BTUs of heat in a single hour. Depending on the size of your home, you may need a two-ton unit that is greater.
You might not know it, but there are several types of AC unit installations available. The most common, and the one you’re likely familiar with, is central air conditioning. This type of installation typically has a condenser and compressor unit installed outside on a concrete block, tied into your current HVAC system. If you have ductwork in your home, this is an excellent choice, delivering cool air to every room in the house at once.
A less common but still incredibly viable option is ductless mini-splits. Generally, a mini-split system is best suited for spaces where ductwork is not available or would be too expensive to install. However, they offer several unique benefits for any homeowner to consider, as well.
For one, mini-splits are some of the most efficient air conditioning units in the industry, and you can be sure you’ll save money on your utility bills each month. They can be installed in just about any space in your home, and you’ll be able to control each unit individually. That means that two people in two different rooms (otherwise known as “zones”) can adjust the temperature for their own rooms. With personalized comfort, there’s no fighting over the thermostat.
These systems happen to be very hygienic units, as well, with built-in filters you can clean whenever you like. Often, mini-splits come with remote controllers so that you don’t have to interact with the unit to make adjustments to your room’s climate. Some even have app compatibility so that you can control the system from your mobile phone or another mobile device, like a tablet.
However, for larger homes, mini-splits may not be the cost-effective solution, as you will need several installations to outfit every room in the home.
Always keep an eye out for rebates. Some manufacturers will put out huge rebates to save you upwards of $1,000 with a new installation. It’s as simple as that. So if you’re looking to get a new AC, ask to see if there are any rebates currently running, and you could save yourself some serious amount of cash.
Get an HVAC Professional
This item is perhaps the most important of all. Get an HVAC professional on the line and set up an appointment for an estimate. There is no better way to be fully confident that you’re getting the best equipment for your home and saving the most amount of money over time. Highly skilled, highly knowledgeable industry experts will know, right away, the right equipment for your space and run you through every step of the process.
Unless you have considerable experience in the HVAC industry, you’ll want a professional to install your new unit correctly.