Factors to Consider Buying an Air Conditioner for Your Cincinnati Home
The right new air conditioner for your home can make all the difference in comfortable and efficient cooling despite summer’s heat. A new air conditioning system can allow you to save money, reduce energy consumption, and improve indoor air quality.
You have many options to choose from when it comes to the cooling portion of HVAC systems – central air conditioner units, heat pump systems, window air conditioners, or even portable air conditioners. How do you find the right model for your new AC system? What are the critical factors to consider when buying an air conditioner? How much will installation cost?
Finding the best AC unit for your home can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to decide which HVAC system is right for your budget, lifestyle, and space. Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, your professional contractor in Cincinnati, has compiled this guide to help you make the best decision possible when purchasing a new air conditioning unit. If you’re ready to make your home properly cool, read on!
Factors to Consider When Selecting New Air Conditioning Units
As you shop for an air conditioning unit, there are multiple factors you need to evaluate in order to find the right air conditioner unit for your needs. Below, we’ll talk about these points, including selecting a type of air conditioner, how the SEER rating and energy consumption of air conditioners impact you, why larger units with a higher BTU rating aren’t necessarily your best choice, indoor air quality impacts, installation costs, and the lifespans of various air conditioners.
Types of Air Conditioners
When you shop air conditioning units, first you need to know the type of air conditioning system you need. There are room air conditioners and whole home air conditioners.
Whole Home Air Conditioning Options
A central air AC system is a type of split system, meaning it has indoor and outdoor components. The evaporator coil removes heat from hot air so the room air temperature is lower. A central air conditioner provides cooling in every room of the home using ductwork to transport cool air throughout the house.
Heat pump systems are another split HVAC system and a great way to keep your home comfortable year-round. In the summer, a heat pump can pull heat from the air inside your home and release it outside, keeping you cool and comfortable in the same manner a central air conditioner does. In the winter, a heat pump can do the reverse, taking heat from the air outside and adding it to the indoor air supply to create warm air. No matter what the season, heat pumps are a great way to keep your home at just the right temperature.
Ductless air conditioners, also known as mini-splits, are a type of air conditioning system that distributes cooled air without the use of air ducts. Rather than using one centralized location to distribute cooled air, ductless AC units offer a more customized and efficient solution by delivering conditioned air directly into the living space from various locations throughout the home via wall mounted air handlers.
Room Air Conditioners
If you only wish to cool one room, your HVAC unit equipment options include ductless systems, window units, or portable AC unit models. Ductless air conditioner systems can be configured with just one wall mounted unit instead of multiple wall mounted units throughout the home. A window air conditioner is typically installed within a window in the room. Portable units usually sit on the floor and are vented out a nearby window – their wheels allow them to be moved from one room to another as needed.
Air Conditioner Cooling Capacity
When buying an air conditioner, one of the most important considerations is its cooling capacity. This is defined as how much heat a cooling system can remove from hot air in a room or space in one hour. It’s measured in British thermal units (Btu) per hour. The bigger the unit, the more cooling power it has, but also the higher its energy usage.
Whether you need a new cooling HVAC unit for a room or the whole home, several things impact the size, or capacity, of the unit you need to do the best job removing heat and keeping the space cool. These elements include, but are not limited to:
- The size of your room
- The square footage of the home
- The number of rooms you need to cool
- The number of people in the household
- How many windows and doors there are in each room
- The height of ceilings
- The building materials that make up the home
- The home’s sunlight exposure
A too-large unit will use excessive power and end up costing more to operate, while a too-small unit will have to work harder and won’t cool as efficiently. The best way to ensure you’re getting the right size air conditioner for your needs is to have a licensed contractor perform a Manual J calculation. This calculation takes into account the specific heat load of the room or space that needs cooling, in order to determine the correct capacity air conditioner.
Air Conditioning System Energy Efficiency
Another important factor is efficiency; this refers to how much energy it takes for your air conditioner to run as compared to its output of cool air and heat removal power (or BTUs). The higher the efficiency rating on an air conditioner, the less electricity it requires and therefore costs less money over time.
The central air conditioner efficiency rating is expressed by the SEER rating, which is short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system is. For a portable or window air conditioner, we measure efficiency by the EER, or Energy Efficiency Ratio. Again, a higher number means a more efficient system.
When you are shopping for an AC unit, keep in mind that a higher efficiency unit will cost less to operate and will save you money on your monthly energy bills. Variable fan speed is one system feature that can increase SEER rating and savings.
At present, the most energy-efficient central air units have SEER ratings of 20 to 26. High efficiency heat pump systems typically have SEER ratings in the range of 20 to 23. For mini split AC systems that don’t require ductwork, high efficiency SEER ratings can reach 30 or above. EER ratings for window units and portable AC models usually fall between 6 and 16.
Indoor Air Quality
Air quality improvement from new cooling systems is another major benefit of upgrading from an older model to something newer and better suited for your home’s needs. You’ll not only notice how much more comfortable it feels in your living space when using it; but also how much cleaner and fresher everything smells as well!
If you’re concerned about high humidity or allergens in your indoor air supply, it may be beneficial to purchase an air conditioning model that comes with features like dehumidifiers and enhanced air filter units. Other models do not include these additional features and you must pay extra to purchase this equipment for your home.
Air conditioners come with different installation costs, depending on the type of cooling system and how much work needs to be done by the installer. For example, if your home already has ductwork in place, then the installation will be less expensive than if you need an entirely new system put in place.
Installing a new cooling system in your home can be very costly, not just for the equipment itself, but also for labor and other necessary costs. Central air conditioning units are usually cheaper than heat pumps, while ductless systems tend to be the most expensive option. Keep in mind that these prices are just for the unit itself – installation costs can add up quickly.
There’s no way to tell exactly how long your air conditioner will last. On average, lifespans by type of unit are:
- Central air conditioner: 15 to 20 years
- Heat pump: 10 to 15 years
- Ductless system: 20 years
- Window air conditioner: 8 to 10 years
Air conditioners can last longer if they’re well maintained and not used frequently during high-load periods like summer heat waves or cold snaps. Installation quality also helps to extend air conditioning service life, so be sure to hire a licensed contractor for the job.
A professional cooling system installation is key to getting the job done right and ensuring a long lifespan for your central air unit. HVAC professionals can also provide annual maintenance services to keep your unit in top condition. This investment will pay off in the form of a more durable and reliable cooling system.
Talk to an HVAC Contractor Today
Buying an air conditioner can be a cost effective improvement for home comfort over the next many years. Thomas & Galbraith helps Cincinnati homeowners pick new units to ensure each room receives proper cooling. Contact us today to learn more about finding a perfect new unit and get a quote covering installation cost from our pros.