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An Ideal Way To Buy A New HVAC System - The O.P.E. Method.

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 06, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

I'll use this story of a homeowner's journey to buying a new HVAC system. TheOPE.png O.P.E. Method - "Other People's Experience" - I'll provide commentary where necessary.

Here's the story in their words:

Our home is 22 years-old, a relatively young age for a house, but not so for a furnace and air conditioner. For years now we've had our furnace checked before the winter season and we've been told "it has one or two years left in it." This year, when the AC was checked, we were told it had a few (minor) issues and that the furnace "has something major wrong with it -- I wouldn't ever start it again." Whether or not it was in this bad of shape, we knew that the time to replace it was not that far off. And since the federal government is offering a $1,500 tax credit when a new furnace is purchased (with certain requirements, of course), we figured that this was the year to replace the unit and the AC as well.

My comments: I congratulate them on doing some pre-planning to make the purchase. Too many wait until it fails at an inconvenient time. If we had "checked your furnace for years" I am very confident we would've earned your trust to simplify your purchase.

If You Don't Have A Relationship With A Trusted HVAC Contractor

The story continues:

The Quoting Process:

"They all said that our current system was way too big for our home (162,000 BTUs). No wonder it sounded like an airplane was taking off every time it started up. :-)

They all recommended relatively the same furnace/AC set-up (95% efficient heater, 13-SEER AC, 100,000 BTUs -- heating is what's most important up here in winter country).

The first guy was a very slick marketer and was all schmoozy with us (at least I thought so, I'm sure my wife thought he was nice -- she's always seeing the good side of people). Anyway, his price was way over the top -- around $9,000 before the government tax credit. He also quoted $192 for annual check-ups.

The second guy seemed very informative and business-like. His pitch was different in that he would repair ANYTHING on the unit for ANY reason for 10 years if we committed to two annual check-ups totaling $278 (the others simply had basic manufacturer's warranties). His price for the units were $7,500 before the tax credit.

The third guy was the only one I wasn't there for. My wife really liked him because he would 1) talk to her in plain language and 2) tell us if we really didn't need this or that. His price was $7,400 before the tax credit and he had annual check-up costs of $135." 

Give Us a "Firm Estimate".

"So my wife set up an appointment and he came out to our house, made some more measurements, and counted the registers in our home. Then he left and we didn't hear anything back from him for two weeks. We finally called him and he said he'd lost our number. Yeah, right. Then he gave us his revised/firm cost and it was $8,700! Yikes! It was $1,200 more than what his original bid was (and notice how it was similar to the amount we'd gotten him to come down on the annual fee over 10 years?) With this sort of change, we decided to re-look at our options.

We thought that maybe we'd misunderstood and that everyone had given an estimate rather than a firm number. So we called company #3 and asked if the $7,400 was a firm cost or an estimate. We were told it was a firm cost. But their number didn't have a whole-house humidifier in it, so we got that added in and their new number came up to $7,932 before the tax credit -- $800 (or over 10%) cheaper than the next closest competitor. So we decided to go with this company. Even if the guy we'd originally selected had come down in price (we didn't ask), we felt like we couldn't trust him anymore, so we decided to move on."

Get References:

"We told the new company that we wanted to go with them but would like three references from them. They provided the names of current customers and my wife called and checked with them. Of course they gave rave reviews (we wouldn't have expected anything different), but with $8k on the line, we didn't want to leave any stone unturned. (FYI, this company also received the strongest positive recommendations from our friends, so we had good confidence in them already.) With this done, we decided to proceed with this company."

The Installation

Two guys came out and installed the furnace and AC over a two-day period. I was only there for a bit of that time (stopped home for lunch with the family and to see how things were going), but my wife reported that it was mostly smooth sailing (their work did uncover an unrelated house issue that we'll need to look at, but nothing major -- I think.)

All Done

When I arrived home on Tuesday night, the system was up and running. I programmed the thermostat to be at the temps we needed when we are/aren't at home (it was a very simple exercise.) The system is soooooooo quiet -- we can't even hear it when it's on (very nice, indeed.)

My Comments: Avoid all of this time consumption and deliberation in your buying decision when you establish a relationship with a credible HVAC contractor. Hopefully, you choose us!

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Topics: Pricing, Buying A/C, Best Price

Which One Of These 5 Different Types Of Buyers Are You?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Mar, 02, 2017 @ 14:03 PM

Let's face it, we all go online to do research on almost anything we need, or if we're interested in making a buying decision. We always know there's an endless supply of 5types.pnginformation. Boy, the yellow pages seem like ancient history.

From our experience, most homeowners fall into 5 different buying behaviors. We do our best to meet each one where they are, and provide the information not only make the best buying decision, but make their experience of choosing us one that gives them the best feeling after they've made it. For us it's not just a transaction of the initial purchase, but a relationship for a lifetime of homeownership.

Here are the 5 different buyers and how we address each one:

1. Immediate Buyers, Two income families with children who are equally busy. Time is at a premium.

When they’re on our website, they’ll look for your contact information, web form and other elements to see how easy it is to work with us. Our digital presence is geared to be responsive. When they submit a form to our site, we call that homeowner right back.  

2. Who Can I Trust Buyers - When they come across our website, the first thing they visit sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and the BBB to look at your overall ratings and reviews. They’re looking for feedback from people who have done business with us, good or bad. They want to know what to expect. Are they going to do it right the first time? Are they going to be there in the long run

3. The 'Curious George' Buyer - They're more of a 'how-does-it-work' personality who likes the opportunity to learn more. When they need a new HVAC system, they’re going to dig up as much information as possible. It's all about educating and comparing; what are the options.

The problem is the Internet is full of misleading and confusing information. The way we help this type of buyer satisfy their search for information is with our Education Center, our Buyer's Guide for Furnaces and a Buyer's Guide for Air Conditioning. Also we welcome website visitors to Ask a Question,

4. Internet Savvied Buyer - They'll ask Facebook friends or other social networks. They are looking for referrals and recommedations from people they know and trust.

It's why we are pretty active on Facebook posts. Educating homeowners on all sorts of subjects homeowners wish they knew when it comes to comfort, performance, energy efficiency and maintaining a healthy home.

5. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap Buyer - Of course, price is important. It's the most expensive appliance in your home. For a lot of people it's an unexpected expense at a time maybe where financial stress is high. Going without heating or cooling isn't a very good option. There's a difference between shopping around to find the same thing cheaper, and getting an idea of the range of the price

They may be using search terms such as “cheap” and “affordable.” Many times they call to get a price over the phone which isn't helpful. It's like trying to 'give someone a haircut over the phone'. Many jobs can’t accurately be priced until a technician is on site. We do however have articles on our website to help homeowners at least get a ballpark range

We prefer buyers to be better informed whether they buy from us or not. Any credible source will tell you the secret to the best value is determined by the installation, not the actual equipment.

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Topics: Buying A/C, Best Value, Best Price

What Manufacturer Makes The Best Air Conditioner?

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Jun, 20, 2016 @ 13:06 PM

This may be a question you search when you're thinking about buying a new airHVAC_Mfg_Choices.png conditioner when yours is getting older or quits. So you Google it. The answer is not that simple.

When you go to shop a new appliance like a new refrigerator, you can do most of that online and then go to the retailer to buy it and have it delivered. When it's delivered you can pretty much take out the old one and put in the new one. It comes assembled with maybe the acceptation of the water line for the ice maker

However, HVAC contractors like us have to put it together at your home, we actually become the last part of the manufacturing. Let me explain. There are about six HVAC equipment manufacturers in the U.S. today, but they operate well over 100 different brand names.

Here are some brands that come off the same manufacturing lines — just different paint, labels, and how they market the products: 

  • Lennox, Armstrong and Concord
  • Trane and American Standard
  • Carrier, Payne, Bryant and Tempstar
  • York, Lux and Coleman
  • Goodman and Amana

Many of the internal components in these brands are made by companies like: Emerson, Johnson Controls and Honeywell. These companies all utilize very rigid quality processes to insure high quality parts. Not a lot of secrets in manufacturing these days. They’re all pretty good at building HVAC units.

So, what’s the difference? And, differences we are happy to explain when we meet with you. Typically, there are small differences, such as who has the bigger touch-screen thermostat, or the efficiency ratings i.e. SEER ratings for air conditioners.

Where the difference comes in is who is going to install it. The installing contractor.

It’s our job as heating and cooling contractor is to put them together and set them up for your specific home layout.

The only place the manufacturer sets up HVAC units for is in their testing lab. That's why we say that getting the stated energy efficiency ratings in the lab is dependent on who installs it. Air conditioners don’t just set in place and plug in like a refrigerator, unfortunately. It takes a large investment in tools and regular training to complete the the 'manufacturing process'. it just so happens to be in your backyard, attic or basement.

We chose to become a Carrier dealer many years ago, but we are VERY familiar with working on all the other brands when it comes to doing tune ups or repairs.

So, how do you pick the right contractor?

  1. Read reviews. Angie's List has tons of those! Be careful of the fake testimonials out there.
  2. Check licensing. Most states have a contractor license portal. 
  3. Check certifications. If a contractor is a member of North American Technician Excellence or ACCA-The Indoor Environment & Energy Efficiency Association, chances are that they and their installers know what they are doing. These organizations have stringent test standards and require continuing education. (We have them both)
  4. Ask around. Who did your neighbors or friends use? Did they meet their expectations? Was their pricing fair?

I Hope This Helps You With Making Your Buying Decision

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Topics: Buying A/C, Best Value, Air Conditioning, Air Conditioners

The Invention of Air Conditioning Created Economic Growth

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 14, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

The hot topic in the news today is the Economy. I found this interesting article thatwillis-carrier.jpg takes a look back at history and the invention of air conditioning. It describes what life was like before the arrival of air-conditioning.

On July 17, 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier designed the first modern air-conditioning system, launching an industry that would fundamentally improve the way we live, work and play. We happen to be a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer; becoming one is no easy feat.

Below are a few excerpts from a New Yorker essay about air conditioning penned by the great Arthur Miller in 1998:

Exactly what year it was I can no longer recall—probably 1927 or ’28—there was an extraordinarily hot September, which hung on even after school had started and we were back from our Rockaway Beach bungalow. Every window in New York was open, and on the streets venders manning little carts chopped ice and sprinkled colored sugar over mounds of it for a couple of pennies. We kids would jump onto the back steps of the slow-moving, horse-drawn ice wagons and steal a chip or two; the ice smelled vaguely of manure but cooled palm and tongue…

Even through the nights, the pall of heat never broke. With a couple of other kids, I would go across 110th to the Park and walk among the hundreds of people, singles and families, who slept on the grass, next to their big alarm clocks, which set up a mild cacophony of the seconds passing, one clock’s ticks syncopating with another’s. Babies cried in the darkness, men’s deep voices murmured, and a woman let out an occasional high laugh beside the lake…Given the heat, people smelled, of course, but some smelled a lot worse than others. One cutter in my father’s shop was a horse in this respect, and my father, who normally had no sense of smell—no one understood why—claimed that he could smell this man and would address him only from a distance…

There were still elevated trains then, along Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Avenues, and many of the cars were wooden, with windows that opened. Broadway had open trolleys with no side walls, in which you at least caught the breeze, hot though it was, so that desperate people, unable to endure their apartments, would simply pay a nickel and ride around aimlessly for a couple of hours to cool off. …

Elsewhere in the essay Miller writes, a “South African gentleman once told me that New York in August was hotter than any place he knew in Africa.” That was exactly the impression I got when I visited Charlottesville in August of 2000 – my first trip to the United States in summer time. I remember saying to my friends back home in Johannesburg that I have never experienced such oppressive heat on my travels through Africa.

Air Conditioning Created Economic Growth

Air-conditioning makes our lives more comfortable, but let us not forget the importance of air conditioning for the economy. As Walter Oi writes in The Welfare Implications of Invention, temperature and humidity have a strong influence on labor productivity. For example, in machine shops, labor productivity is at its peak at 65 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity between 65 and 75 percent. Productivity is 15 percent lower at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 28 percent lower at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, accident rates are 30 percent higher at 77 degrees Fahrenheit than at 67 degrees Fahrenheit. In many factories, temperature and humidity also affect the product, ruining paper, threads of textiles and so on.


Similarly, in the old days, main-frame computers required climate control to function effectively. It was undoubtedly the introduction of air-conditioning that caused value-added per employee in manufacturing in the South to increase from 88.9 percent of the national average in 1954 to 96.3 percent of the national average in 1987. Best of all, air-conditioning is much, much cheaper and more available than it has ever been!

Best Price Air Conditioners

Topics: A/C Systems, Buying A/C, Air Conditioning

The 'Anatomy' of the Pricing of an Air Conditioning Service Call

Posted by John Sims on Mon, Jun, 15, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

Let's face it, everyone wants the 'biggest bang for their buck' when it comes to service work or repairs. Biggest_BangHomeowners want to stretch every dollar. The question we wanted to answer is, "what goes into the cost of an HVAC service call"? 

Everyone knows having indoor comfort when it is hot, running water for personal hygiene and or power to run all our modern conveniences are a great thing. So when it isn't functioning properly, we turn to a service company to restore what we've become to expect in our daily living.

Most homeowners just want a fair price but sometimes they feel like they were 'gouged'. Sometimes people can have that perception sometimes when they call our service tech out to diagnose and fix a problem. When it is all said and done, you want your home to be returned to the state of comfort.

I was doing some research online the other day when I ran across a discussion that turned out to be the backdrop to writing this article. The following are statements I highlighted that reflect some of the frustrations or misunderstandings homeowners have:

"I'm ok with it but charging triple or quadruple the price, this is just crazy. Just curious is it just me or they overcharged me for the capacitor?
Sorry, you got screwed bigtime!"
"I'm in chicagoland area. I knew I got ripped off, that's why I want to confirm it here. I'm going to call them tomorrow and ask if there's a price mistake. Of course they will say no and I will tell them straight in their face that I know that they screw me off. I might file a complaint with BBB even though this won't help much."
"How much is too much? Trip charge $55.00, Capacitor $203.95 tax $8.25 total..$267.20. Twenty minutes of work. I feel your pain."
"I had been looking online at different parts and i remembered that capacitors were cheap, aprox."
"labor for 10min of easy work?"
"I ended up changing it myself."
"After doing my research exploring the cost"

Charging a fair price and stay in business is our challenge.

A quality HVAC contractor desires a long term relationship with homeowners; preferably for the life of homeownership. Here's what it takes as a business to be in a position to meet your needs when  you call us to schedule a repair.

Let's begin by talking about the most important component; the employees. It takes years of experience, training, knowledge about not just your equipment brand, but all the brands we run into. Training is ongoing.

In addition to the technician training, the overhead of operating an HVAC business is fairly significant.


Here's a list:

  •  Staff to answer the phone when you call.
  •  Costs of being in business.
  •  Technology to have quick response times.
  •  Show up at your door with a nice looking truck.
  •  The fuel to drive to your location.
  •  Uniformed employees so you can feel comfortable letting the tech inside your home.
  •  Providing benefits for our employees.
  •  Diagnostic equipment to do the job right.

We realize homeowners have the option to search online to find the part they think they need and have the ability to do the work themselves. If someone feels comfortable doing this kind of work, they are welcome. However, most folks don't want to throw away money if it doesn't work and you end up giving us a call.

Remember, the trained expert always makes the diagnosis and repair look easy. We hope this helps when it comes to meeting your expectations on your next service call.

Topics: Pricing, AC Repair, Buying A/C, Service

When Should I Replace My Air Conditioner?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jun, 09, 2015 @ 15:06 PM

Waiting Until It Dies Is The Worst Time!

Well, how do I know when that's going to happen? That's not easy to predict. If it does, we have ClockAlarmemergency service. Here's some recommendations and guidelins that will help. Replacing your air conditioning system (or furnace) is a sizeable investment. When it comes time to upgrade your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and streamlining your energy bill, follow these tips.

Begin by asking these questions: Is your HVAC system more than 10 years old? Are you making frequent repairs or enduring hot and cold spells in certain rooms? Don't wait until the system dies. Take a proactive approach and have its performance evaluated by a professional. Someone who is trained, qualified and has the right diagnostic equipment.

Replacing an old, inefficient system with a newer high-tech model can save you $100's per year on your utility bill, plus make your house far more comfortable.

Aiming to replace your HVAC system before it actually fails will ensure that you have time to price and research options. But since the price tag is hefty, it's not a project to undertake if your only motivation is trimming costs. You should check first for underlying problems, such as leaky ductwork, that can be fixed to increase your comfort and energy efficiency with less cash outlay.

First Things First

An HVAC system works at its optimum when these items are performing well: a properly programmed thermostat, well-sealed ductwork and adequate insulation. Make sure these items are in place before you make a buying decision; they could actually be the source of your problems.

Choose Your System

When it's time for an upgrade, your options depend on where you live. For most West Michigan residents, the most efficient units combine a natural gas furnace for heating and an electric unit for cooling. But in some cases where your heating fuel source is propane, an air-source heat pump may be your best choice. For in-depth information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Selecting and Replacing Heating and Cooling.

It may be feasible to replace the furnace or the air conditioner only rather than putting in an entirely new system. But replacing components may not always be the best option, especially if your system is several years old; the old and new parts may not work together efficiently.

On the other hand, when replacing the whole system at once, you'll save significantly on labor portion of the installation.

Size It Properly

Getting a more efficient system is a great idea, but don't be tempted to get a larger system than you need for your square footage. A system that is oversized won't run well and can actually make your house less comfortable because it cycles on and off too much.

Your HVAC system serves as a dehumidifier. An oversized system will cool the house too quickly and shut off prematurely, which means incoming air won't be completely dehumidified. The combo of colder surfaces and wetter air in your house can cause condensation and mold growth. If mold spreads to drywall or joists, you could face an eye-popping repair bill.

Leave It to the Professionals

Improper installation can reduce your system's efficiency by as much as 30 percent. In other words, it can actually cancel out the savings you're expecting from upgrading to a more efficient model. HVAC installation is a job for a licensed, insured contractor with good references.

Need the opinion?

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Topics: A/C Systems, Air Conditioning Service, Buying A/C, Air Conditioning

Will The Cost of Air Conditioning Your Home 'Skyrocket'?

Posted by John Sims on Thu, Jun, 26, 2014 @ 15:06 PM

Recently, a radio ad caught my attention. It had to do with some legislation the coal industry was opposing that would make the price of electricity skyrocket.congress

Since we're heading into the air conditioning season, which is powered by electricity, I
thought I'd share this information. This has nothing to do with whether this is good or bad legislation, it has more to do with making sure homeowners are one step ahead of the potential increases in their utility bills; they mentioned 80%.

At Sims Heating & Cooling, we do our best to bring information that will help homeowners in the Battle Creek area keep their utility bills to the minimum while maintaining comfort!

The question for homeowners is, what measures should you take to reduce the usage without sacrificing comfort?

Here's some excerpts of what this was all about:

Cleaner air could mean higher electric bills May 21st, 2014

NEW YORK - Electricity prices are probably on their way up across much of the U.S. as coal-fired plants, the dominant source of cheap power, shut down in response to environmental regulations and economic forces. 

New and tighter pollution rules and tough competition from cleaner sources such as natural gas, wind and solar will lead to the closings of dozens of coal-burning plants across 20 states over the next three years. And many of those that stay open will need expensive retrofits.

New Poll Finds Most Americans Worried EPA Regulations Will Lead to Higher Electricity Prices May 7th, 2014

Most consumers also concerned EPA policies will lead to black-outs and brown-outs

Washington, D.C. -- Most Americans (76%) are at least somewhat worriedthat new regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove coal-powered electricity from the nation's energy mix will lead to higher prices for consumers, according to an online survey of 2,058 adults conducted in April, 2014 by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Mining Association (NMA). The national poll also reveals that concern is greatest (88%) among retirees and these are people living on fixed incomes who are particularly sensitive to cost increases.

The survey highlights the very real impact the winter price surge had on household finances and quality of life. Of the 76% of Americans responsible for paying their utility bills and who had higher bills this winter over half (56%) said their day-to-day lives were impacted with these higher bills this winter. For example, those impacted said they were forced to set thermostats lower than was comfortable (32%) and forced to cut back on leisure activities (28%). Nearly one fifth (19%) also reported that higher electricity costs limited their ability to buy necessities, such as groceries, food and healthcare – suggesting lower-income households may have been forced to decide between heating their home and eating a meal.

"Americans are rightfully concerned about higher electricity prices. If EPA continues to push forward with unrealistic standards for coal-based power plants, consumers' fears will become locked-in for the foreseeable future," Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO, said. "The leap in electricity bills consumers saw this winter is as much the result of EPA's policies as it is the cold weather."

I guess time will tell on this matter. In the meantime, here's what you can control.

Three measures a homeowner can take to reduce the amount of electricity they use while maintaining comfort in their homes this summer are:

1. Make sure the air you pay to condition (cool) is kept indoors. Seal the air leaks in your home.

2. Tune up your A/C system and keep the air filter changed regularly.

3. If your air conditioner is getting up there in age, now may be a good time to upgrade to a more energy efficient unit.

Topics: Buying A/C, Air Conditioning, Energy Efficient Solutions, Savings, EPA

Buying A New Air Conditioner for the first time - Advanced

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Jun, 20, 2014 @ 14:06 PM

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 longAC Advanced 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.

Lifetime costs

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. 

Noise Levels.

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.


Topics: A/C Systems, AC Replacement, Buying A/C, Best Value

Buying A New Air Conditioner For The First Time - The Basics.

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Jun, 13, 2014 @ 15:06 PM

Keep in mind, when you're buying a new air conditioner you're buying: consistent temperatures throughout the home, quieter environment, increased home value, and delivered energy efficiency. You're not buying a "box" to replace the one outside in your backyard orBuying an Air Conditioning Battle Creek the side of your home.

Let's start with what an air conditioner does. It performs two types of cooling - dehumidification and temperature reduction.

Temperature reduction - When you put your face in front of that AC vent, it may seem that an air conditioner creates cold, but in reality, it's removing thermal energy from inside your house and sending it outside. This transfer of heat from your home's air does indeed make the air cooler, and the air blowing out of the supply vents does feel cold. It's best to think of the process, though, as a heat flow from inside to outside.

Dehumidification - When an air conditioner cools the hot air in a home, moisture condenses out of the air and gets discharged into the condensate line, because cooler air cannot hold as much moisture as warmer air does. But an air conditioner MUST run long enough to remove water(humidity). If it doesn't, (commonly known as short cycling), it can't pull enough indoor air through the evaporator coil to 'wring' out the moisture during short run times. The result: homeowners get the 'cave effect' in which a home is cool, but feels damp or 'clammy'.

Air Conditioner Efficiency - Each air conditioner has an energy-efficiency rating that lists how many Btu per hour are removed for each watt of power it draws. For central air conditioners, it is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. These ratings are posted on an Energy Guide Label, which must be conspicuously attached to all new air conditioners.

SEER, AFUE and HSPF are all measures of energy efficiency. Air conditioners may look similar, but their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) can vary widely. Higher SEER numbers save more money spent on electricity. A 13 SEER air conditioner, the EPA "current minimum standard", uses 23% less energy than a 10 SEER unit (EPA standard up until Jan. 2006). Most manufacturers offer a range of units from 13 SEER and go all the way up to a 21 SEER .

In general, new air conditioners with higher SEERs sport higher price tags. However, the higher initial cost of an energy-efficient model will be repaid to you several times during its life span.

Doug Rye, a national energy efficiency expert, has spent the past 40+ years teaching people all across America how to have lower utility bills and have a more comfortable home for their family.

Here's what he recommendations:

"Buy the most efficient air conditioner you can afford, especially if you use (or think you will use) an air conditioner frequently and/or if your electricity rates are high. Avoid making your decision solely on the basis of price. The quality of the installation should be your highest priority, because quality will determine utility cost, comfort, and durability."

Buying New Air Conditioners - Today's best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling than 20 years ago. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 16% to 28% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

Sizing Air Conditioners - One of the most important decisions; and don't assume you have the right size now! Assuming you're in the market for a new air conditioner, you'll need to know the term "ton" when referencing the size of the unit; sizes like 2, 3, 4 or 5 ton units. The question often asked by homeowners is what does the term "ton" mean?

Air conditioners are rated by the number of British Thermal Units (BTU) of heat they can remove per hour. (approximately the amount of heat you get from burning one kitchen match all the way down) One "ton" equals 12,000 BTU per hour. A 4-ton air conditioner is one that can remove 48,000 BTUs of heat per hour from the house.

How big should your air conditioner be? The size of an air conditioner depends on:

  • how large your home is and how many windows it has;
  • how much shade is on your home's windows, walls, and roof;
  • how much insulation is in your home's ceiling and walls;
  • how much air leaks into your home from the outside; and
  • how much heat the occupants and appliances in your home generate.

An air conditioner's efficiency, performance, durability, and initial cost depend on matching its size to the above factors.

If you'd like more buying tips, check out our "6 SUREFIRE Steps"to getting the best value!

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Topics: A/C Systems, Buying A/C, Air Conditioning, How It Works

A Common Mistake With Home Air Conditioning Replacement.

Posted by John Sims on Wed, Jul, 17, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

"Unfortunately, I Went With The Lowest Price But I Didn't Realize It Didn't Include A NEW Evaporator Coil, Now We're Paying For It."

When it comes time to consider replacing their home air conditioning system, homeownersEvapCoil aren't sure how to make the best decision and as a result of what typically happens in our industry is, homeowners request a bid or quote from 3 or 4 contractors. Unfortunately, that can turn to making a decision based on lowest price.  

A contractor trying to compete on price to get the sale may either not know the evaporator coil needs replacing, or he may not tell you about it, thinking you won’t want to pay for it.

Here at Sims Heating & Cooling, our years of experience has taught us never 'short-cut' the installation. It doesn't work out very well.

Almost all new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps need a new indoor “evaporator coil” to work properly. Think of the radiator of your car, except this one is hidden inside your ductwork or air handler.

Also, the copper tubing that connects the inside and outside components of most air conditioners and heat pumps also has to be the right diameter. Many new high efficiency systems need bigger copper lines than you likely currently have.

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.”

Richard Rue of EnergyWiseStructures recommends, "Only use HVAC equipment fromRRueEW 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.”

Replacing all the old components of your system does initially cost more, but you get what we refer to as the Biggest Bang For Your Buck: lower utility bills, lower repair costs, improved reliability and warranty, and increased comfort. Not replacing it leads to higher utility and repair bills; plus premature compressor failures.

Topics: Done Right, Buying A/C, AC Components, Common Mistakes

Solving Problems In Your Home, Begins With Identifying Them.

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