Choosing the Appropriate Central Air System
Selecting the right air conditioner, however, can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the terminology used to describe the various types of units. Words like tonnage, SEER, BTUs, and a list of other commonly used words can sound like gibberish. Without any knowledge of A/C units, how do you choose between a 13 SEER and a 16 SEER model? Or a split system and a packaged unit? The bad news is that choosing an appropriate A/C system is confusing if you’re doing it on your own. The good news is that if you hire a qualified contractor, your technician will give you precise system recommendations based on a very thorough evaluation of your home.
The Square Footage Fallacy
Gone are the days when simply knowing your home’s square footage determined the appropriate cooling system. If the contractor you are talking with recommends a unit solely based on your business or home’s square footage, then you’ll want to take that as a red flag and choose another contractor.
Evaluating Your Home’s Cooling Needs is a Science
A skilled contractor will inspect your entire home and evaluate your cooling needs based on the procedures and calculations set forth. The ACCA publishes explicit guidelines contractors use to guide them through the evaluation process of any home. When it comes to cooling your house, a number of features affect the type of unit you need. Factors such as number and size of windows, number of bedrooms, number of occupants, your home’s orientation in relation to the sun, local weather, insulation, types of floors, exterior finish, and a long list of other factors. This is a rather comprehensive process, and the reason for this is to guarantee that you get the most energy-efficient system that will ultimately save you money.
The Right Size
If you buy a unit that is too small for your home, it will not be able to generate enough cool air to fill your entire house. You’ll have spaces that are cool and spaces that are warm. On the other hand, a central air conditioner that is too large will turn on and off too frequently. This excessive on/off cycle will cause the system to work harder, and this will ultimately lead to a premature system failure. Because an over sized air conditioner is more powerful, it will reach the desired temperature much faster than an adequately-sized system, so it will also turn off quicker. This sounds good in theory, but it is important to note that part of the air conditioning process involves removing moisture from the air. If your over sized unit cools in less time, it also has less time to remove moisture, leaving your home feeling humid. You will be inclined to lower the temperature on the thermostat in a humid home, and lower temperatures means higher utility bills. Besides being bad for your wallet, a space with high humidity is also an ideal environment for mold growth.
Needless to say, when it comes to central A/C systems, bigger is not better. An over sized system will waste more energy, and it will leave you feeling cold and clammy. So it is always best to get the right size.