As the leading HVAC company in the Battle Creek area, helping folks like you understand what’s important to know before you make a buying decision is critical to establishing a long term relationship.
In a previous article we discussed the 'Basics'. In this article we'll cover some things you probably aren't aware of yet. Hopefully, we can help you simplify your choices.
First up is comparing the Initial cost vs. Lifetime costs.
The "initial or installation cost" of an air conditioner is what it cost to purchase & install the unit; and unfortunately many homeowners make their decision based on price alone.
However, looking at the upfront cost doesn't give you an accurate picture of all of the costs associated with owning the cooling system.
The factors that dictate the lifetime costs of an A/C unit will affect you for years to come. The quality of the system along with its efficiency are just two variables to consider.
One major variable is selecting the system's seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), or SEER Rating. Nationally, a 13 SEER minimum air conditioner efficiency standard went into effect on Jan 23, 2006. It was mandated by the U.S Dept of Energy. Before this change the minimum SEER rating was 10. The new 13 SEER rating is almost a 30% increase in efficiency and to accomplish that manufacturers made significant design changes.
Unfortunately, this new mandate was not accompanied by any requirement regarding installation performance, so much of the potential energy savings that customers expect have not been attained.
The higher the SEER rating the higher the price. That's because an air conditioner with a high SEER employs advanced technologies that help to lower energy consumption. As a general rule, you can expect the energy costs of a system to go down as the SEER goes up.
Paying less up front: you'll usually pay more over the life of the A/C. Equipment that costs less and is lower in quality generally means high operating costs but a low purchasing cost
Paying more upfront generally ensures lower lifetime costs. Equipment that costs more to purchase and is high in quality means low operating costs but a higher first cost.
Matching the Evaporator (Indoor) Coil.
When an old outdoor condensing unit fails, it is very important that the indoor coil be matched and replaced at the same time for a number of reasons.
Industry experts Steve Easley and John Proctor say, do it the right way; match the outside compressor unit with the inside evaporator coil and avoid the potential of wasting 50% of your electric bill even if you install new equipment:
Richard Rue of EnergyWiseStructures (a guy who has engineered over 42,000 homes) recommends, "Only use HVAC equipment from the same manufacturer to optimize operating efficiency. Air conditioning contractors are notorious for mixing and matching equipment to save money. But the system will run more efficiently if all the components—including the condensers, furnace, and coils—are from the same manufacturer.”
The advertised efficiency of a new air conditioner or heat pump is based on the performance of both new outdoor and indoor components working together as a matched system. The EPA states: “...be sure your contractor replaces both indoor and outdoor coils for maximum efficiency.”
Manufacturers of air conditioners and compressors alike state that almost 2/3 of the failures of outdoor condensing units are caused by a restriction or refrigerant leak in the indoor coil. There is the potential of voiding the manufacturer's warranty.
Air conditioner decibel(db) levels – the amount of noise a unit makes – is something you will want to consider when either readying your current system or purchasing a new one. If your system sits next to your patio outside or near a window, consider the db levels.
Today, the noise level of the condenser or outside unit are much quieter than those of the past. Old air conditioners can be as loud as 80db which can be very annoying.
Most popular brands have high-efficiency, low noise models available for an increased price. So make sure you take this into consideration. Also, air conditioner noise levels can be controlled by where you place the unit too; think about the best place for the unit.
No one wants to have to talk over their air conditioner. Trying to sleep with a noisy air conditioner running can be aggravating, it can also drive your neighbor nuts.
The combined costs of owning a system always far exceed the initial cost of buying it. The wrong system, improperly installed, could sentence you to over 20 years of excessive utility and repair bills. It may also not deliver the comfort you expect and deserve. Hey, you don't get a do-over or a 'mulligan' here.
We hope this information helps you figure it all out and arrive at the best buying decision for you. If you've got more questions just ask.