The first thing most people probably think when it comes to replacing their Air Conditioning (AC) equipment is, “Just install the new version of what I had.” While this may seem like the right idea, circumstances have no doubt changed in your home since the last HVAC equipment was installed; a new version of the same equipment probably would not be the most effective option anymore. Consider these top 3 things before you get a replacement and ensure you are maximizing your investment.
1. Has Your Home or Household Changed?
Getting the right sized air conditioner is essential for saving money on energy costs and ensuring your equipment operates properly, for the duration of its life. Over or undersized HVAC equipment will not cool your home efficiently and will break down more often than a properly sized one.
The size, layout, and area of your home are major factors in defining the appropriate size of equipment needed to replace the existing one. Therefore, if you have built an addition or done major renovations, then you need to adjust the size of the AC equipment appropriately. A renovation could have the opposite impact on your AC capacity. New and better insulation is often installed during a renovation. If you insulated your home, you need to know that the cooling and heating needs reduce. Therefore, the size of the AC goes down.
It is best to have a reliable contractor do a load calculation to determine the appropriate AC size, which varies from 1.5 to 5.0 tons.
2. Hiring a Contractor
Your HVAC contractor will be with you every step of the way and choosing a reputable company with knowledgeable, skilled technicians is essential for a successful installation. Improperly sized or installed air conditioners can end up costing you a fortune in higher energy bills and frequent repairs. Before choosing a contractor, make sure they are licensed, bonded, insured, and NATE certified.
Air conditioner efficiency is described by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER rating. New air conditioners must have a SEER of at least 13, which means they are 30% more efficient than SEER 10 equipment. By way of comparison, older air conditioners typically have a SEER of around 6.
High-efficiency Energy Star air conditioners can have a SEER as high as 26, which is 160% more efficient than a SEER of 10. These models cost more than other models, but depending on energy prices, the savings often pay for the equipment over the course of its operating life. It is a good idea to choose the highest efficiency air conditioner you can afford, especially if you live in a region with a long cooling season where you will reap more of the energy-saving benefits.
Air conditioners range in cost from around $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the size, SEER, and add-on features. Tax credits and utility rebates can considerably lower the cost of new HVAC equipment. Your contractor can help you determine which incentives you may be eligible for.