Buying Central Air Conditioning
I get customers ask me sometimes about choosing the right air conditioner or furnace or heat pump. They usually ask what brand I would recommend. That question can be answered differently depending on who you ask. In my humble opinion I would say it is really not the brand more than it is the contractor or installer you choose to install the system. A few months ago I had a friend call me to look at a home she was going to buy. She wanted me to do the job for HVAC installation as I have a very good reputation. I looked at everything and came back with a price for her. Of course, because she was a friend I discounted many things to give her a good price.
The home was in serious disrepair and had a moldy smell to it. It was going to take a lot of work for her to repair the home so she could move in and live there. Since I am a also a licensed electrician I looked at her electrical infrastructure along with the HVAC system. I also gave her a price on fixing everything. I told her, to save on my cost, that she would have to get a homeowners permit. I went about my business and started to think about adding this work to my schedule. A few days later she calls me and said she didn’t want to get a permit she wanted me to do it without a permit. I politely declined. She ended up calling another HVAC company to do the installation which his price came in at the same as my price but didn’t include some extra work such as duct work.
The Aftermath Of Bad Decisions with Buying a New Air Conditioner
Now 2 months later I get a call from her and she wants me to look at the system. It’s not working properly. I go take a look and see the installation was very shoddy. Some of things that needed to be squared away were not and it caused problems attaining the proper static pressure in the system. Something I had taken into consideration when I looked at it in the first place. Some of the duct work wasn’t even attached to the boots and it was all very leaky. This is a prime example of you get what you pay for. Get the lowest bidder and sometimes you end up with the quick change artist looking for a buck instead of doing the job correctly so the equipment lasts for the long term. The quick change artist will likely be out of business soon as no one wants to pay a high price for crap.
So she got a central air conditioner and she needs to invest another few thousand dollars to make it work right. I told her, sorry, I can’t do anything about. She needs to call Mr. Quick Change to fix it. Plus no permit was pulled for the job. That makes for liability issues for me if I touched the system. Not including the electrical work that needed to be done. I see it too many times. Get it done and get it done right and there will be little to worry about. Of course some brands have their lemons but overall you need to find a good installer. Some other factors include:
HVAC Technology and Air Conditioning
Over the last decade HVAC technology has increased tremendously, partially in response to the call for reduced greenhouse gases, but also in an attempt to keep utility bills lower. Contractors and consumers alike have paid a great bit of attention to high efficiency air conditioning and heating systems according to their SEER rating. SEER stands for season energy efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioning system is.
The question is, however, is a system with a higher SEER number better for your home? The answer is maybe. What is more important is matching the system to the size of your home. Systems that are inefficiently sized for the square footage of your home, whether too big or too small, will turn on and off too frequently, in the case of larger systems, or run all the time if the system isn’t large enough to accommodate the entire building square footage.
Today’s central air conditioning systems are sold with SEER ratings that range from 13 to 25 with the latter number designating a more energy efficient system. In addition, regulations going into effect in 2015 will base SEER ratings upon the climate on which you live, which will further confuse consumers.
A good rule of thumb is, the warmer and more humid your climate is the more likely you are to use a higher SEER air conditioning system in your home. In other words, if you use your air conditioner a lot, a high efficiency SEER unit is for you. For northern climates, the answer is less clear. Fortunately, Energy Star, which rates the efficiency of a wide variety of appliances, allows you to plug in SEER ratings of your chosen system along with local electric costs. Also check manufacturer ratings before choosing a system.