3 Things To Know When Shopping For A New Air Conditioner
Air conditioning season is coming. This is an unavoidable fact, and the mere mention of it made my wife roll her eyes. She remembered how our air conditioning unit squeals each time it starts up. It’s been doing it for years, but the volume of the squealing reached new heights last summer. It became so loud that we called our appliance protection service to take a look.
Our unit needed a new compressor, which unfortunately was a costly repair and not covered by our protection plan. We limped through the rest of the season with our loud, obnoxious air conditioner.
But now it’s a brand new season, and we’re getting estimates on how much it would cost to replace our air conditioning unit and bring peace back to the neighborhood. When getting information on replacing an air conditioning unit, there are several things that one should be aware of:
Repair or Replace
Whenever a major appliance breaks down the first question asked is, should it be repaired or replaced? The average air conditioning unit life expectancy is 15-20 years. Experts generally suggest that if your unit is less than 10 years old, it is cost effective to repair the air conditioner. However, if it’s over 10 years old it may be in your best interest to replace it.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating measures the cooling efficiency of an air conditioning unit. It is calculated by taking the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency.
Today’s air conditioning units have SEER ratings between 13-21. For each SEER rating increase, a homeowner generally saves 5% to operate the unit. In many instances, electric companies will offer rebates for purchasing a high efficiency unit. Consumers must find a balance between the cost of a unit with the savings of a higher efficiency over the lifetime of ownership.
The capacity of an air conditioner measures the cooling ability of the unit. The larger the capacity, the bigger space it can cool. Capacity is generally measured in tons, which oddly enough is based on how much energy it takes to melt a ton of ice. The recommended capacity for a given size home varies depending upon climate, floor plan type, as well as the amount of sun facing windows are in the home. As the capacity increases, so does the cost.
It is possible, especially in humid climates, to oversize your air conditioner. If the unit is too large, it will cool a home too fast such that it does not remove the humidity from the home. Usually this requires homeowners to set their thermostat to a lower temperature to force the unit to run longer in order to remove the humidity.
When getting an estimate, ask what the recommended capacity is for your home. The estimator should come to your home and examine the size and design of your home to accurately calculate the needed capacity.
It’s still early Spring, so there aren’t likely to be many really hot days for awhile yet. We’re taking our time, getting several estimates and weighing our options. We need to balance capacity, efficiency and price to make the best decision for effectively cooling our home without putting our budget in the deep freeze.
How about you, Clever Friends, have you replaced your air conditioning unit recently? How did you determine the best unit for your home and budget?
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Brought to you courtesy of Brock
Brock is a software engineer by day and personal finance blogger at night. He is a fitness junkie and enjoys grilling and smoking meat. Married with two children, Brock strives to improve his skills as a husband and father, and is always on the lookout to stretch his family’s budget as far as he can.