So you are in the market for a new air conditioning system for your home. What type of system should you choose? This is a difficult question to answer, and it has only become more difficult during the last ten years, when more and more models of AC have become available, many with very high energy efficiency ratings.
It may seem like the easiest way to pick an air conditioner for installation is to find the one the highest efficiency rating. But this isn’t always the best route; to make sure that you pick an air conditioning system that matches your cooling and budget requirements, speak to an experienced HVAC technician about the various options. (After all, you will need to technician to perform the installation itself, so bring the expert in at the very start.)
Balancing efficiency, performance, and budget
The rating for an air conditioner’s energy efficiency is SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher the SEER number, the more efficiently the AC converts electricity into BTUs of cooling power. In order for an air conditioner to quality for the ENERGY STAR label from the Department of Energy in California, it must have a minimum of 14 SEER, and this is a good place to start when looking for a new AC.
However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a system has high SEER doesn’t mean it will automatically save you money. An air conditioner can run efficiently, but if it is the wrong type of unit for your home it will run constantly (or short-cycle) and still waste power and money. Higher SEER air conditioners also cost more to install, and sometimes the upfront cost is not worth the longer-term savings. It all depends on your home and how you use the AC.
A professional will guide you through all the choices necessary to find the ideal AC: one that will keep your family cool without costing you a fortune in utility bills.