Air Conditioning
Purchasing An Air Conditioner

Indoor comfort control typically makes up at least half of the home's total energy bill. If your central air conditioning unit is more than 10 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star® qualified model could cut your cooling costs by an easy 30 percent! Things you should consider:

1. Efficiency Ratings & Refrigerant
The cooling efficiency of an air conditioner (or heat pump) is measured by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The SEER rating measures how much energy is required to cool a certain space. The higher the SEER rating the less energy required to cool. As of 2009, the highest SEER rating you will typically find on residential air conditioners ranges from 18-21 SEER. 13 SEER is the government required minimum as of 2006.

You will hear talk about refrigerant because the older R-22 refrigerant has proved to be harmful to the environment. R-410A in the new refrigerant being used in modern air conditioners and heat pumps. *Note that R-410A is marketed under other names from other brands, but essentially it is the same regardless of brand.

Energy Star® approved air conditioners will obviously have a higher SEER rating than standard models, but you can still go a good deal higher than an Energy Star rating when purchasing your system. Remember, saving energy prevents pollution. By choosing an efficient AC you are helping make a better tomorrow while also saving on your monthly utility bills.

2. Use A Respected Brand
Like anything, you get what you pay for. Remember that AC contractors are sometimes forced to bid lower end equipment because most of their customers only look at price tags and they don't want to lose a job because one component was too high. But any experienced San Diego contractor will be happy to give their recommendations regarding brands you can depend on to be reliable and efficient - you just have to ask them!

3. Use An Experienced AC Contractor
There is much more to air conditioning than just purchasing a good unit. In fact, if you purchase the best air conditioner on the planet, but don't have it installed by a contractor with experience, you could be wasting your money. See our Finding The Right Contractor page for more information.

4. Sealing Your Home
Energy Star® has designed a guide for homeowners to explain the importance of sealing your home for energy efficiency. Leaks in your ductwork and a "leaky home" will cost you big time. See our Sealing Your Home page for more information.

5. Remember The Complete System
Air conditioners are part of a split system design, and are typically made to balance against certain indoor equipment. Ask your contractor about your furnace or air handler to make sure you pick the right components. Also ask about technologies that increase efficiency. For example, York® air handlers use ECM technology that actually increase the SEER rating of your unit by 1.5 points!

6. Consider Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is definitely a buzzword that you've probably heard. The important thing to realize is that for true air quality enhancement in your home you really should look at all four major components as each has a specific job. Obtaining a UV lamp alone will not clean up indoor air. Learn about them on our indoor air quality page!

7. Schedule Regular Maintenance
An air conditioner is just like your automobile - neglecting routine maintenance will not only cost you in system life, but in monthly efficiency as well. Any qualified HVAC dealer will offer you schedule maintenance plans to keep your system running top notch, and help you avoid costly break downs.

8. Learn How Indoor Comfort Works
You always feel more confident about decisions when you can understand the lingo and how things work. Understand a little more about indoor comfort systems work by visiting our "How It Works" page for flash animations describing cooling systems, thermostats and zoning!

How Indoor Comfort Control Works

How Air Conditioning Works

Purchasing An Air Conditioner | Sealing Your Home | The Right AC Contractor | Indoor Air Quality
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