So your air conditioner is 15 years old or older. Or your utility bills are going up. Or the AC is noisy or in constant need of repair. Or maybe all of the above. So you decide to take the plunge, making the wise decision to purchase a new unit. The question: how do you go about doing it? Here’s some advice.
- Seer Ratings. One thing you will most likely find is your new unit will be much more energy efficient that your older unit, resulting in lower utility bills. Energy efficiency is measured by The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER rating. Entry level units have a SEER rating of 13 and they go up as high as 21.
- Size (cooling capacity). Make sure the AC unit you buy is big enough to cool your entire house, but not so big that it wastes energy. Your AC contractor should take measurements and consider other factors like the amount of insulation in your home to help you determine the appropriate size. Capacity is determined by BTU units, which stands for British Thermal Units.
- Price. The SEER rating has the greatest impact on price. Do shop around for the best price, but remember you frequently get what you pay for. So price shop, but only do so with established and reputable contractors. However, when price shopping, also check for manufacturer rebates.
- Refrigerant. The traditional R-22 refrigerant, sometimes known as Freon, has been restricted from use in all new units. Make sure your new system uses an approved refrigerant such as R-410A.
- Tax rebates. Many governmental entities offer tax credits, especially when purchasing highly energy-efficient units. Check that out.
- Warranties. Carefully investigate the warranty, including both the manufacturer’s warranty and a labor warranty from the contractor.
- Maintenance. In order to make sure your new unit runs as efficiently as possible as long as possible, it needs to be properly maintained. Many contractors offer programs that offer annual maintenance at reduced costs as well as other benefits, such as emergency service and extended warranties. Be sure to check that out.