We are well into the dog days of summer, making things a bit sticky. Hot and humid summer days can be quite uncomfortable indoors for those who do not have central air conditioning. A home central air conditioner filters, dehumidifies, and cools the indoor air, making things cleaner and more comfortable. There are several things to know before purchasing a central air conditioner.
Step 1: Be aware of the different types of air conditioners. In-wall, portable, and window units cool a particular area, usually one room. Central air conditioners are able to cool an entire home. The condenser unit is installed outdoors, the air handling unit in the form of a heat pump or forced-air furnace is usually placed in an attic or basement, and ductwork is run throughout the home to distribute the cooled air created by the air handler. The heat pump uses refrigeration to distribute hot or cold air. Whole house central air conditioning is a more popular choice than a room air conditioner or heat pump.
Step 2: Central air conditioners come in various sizes and the unit should be large enough to cool the home but not so large that operation is inefficient. The high cost of energy today makes air conditioners expensive to operate. Air conditioning units are provided with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. This rating is displayed on the Energy Guide label posted on the unit. Consumers should only purchase units that they can afford to run.
Step 3: Unless you work in the business, purchasing and installing the central air conditioner will not be a do-it-yourself project. Consumers should find a reputable air-conditioning contractor who can assess whether an air conditioning system is feasible for the home. Installation is usually easier and more reasonably priced for houses with existing forced air heating systems and homes that are being constructed. If ductwork must be retrofitted, the project may be too expensive. When usable ductwork is present, the typical central air conditioning system costs at least $3,000 to $6,000 or higher installed. Consumers should get three or more bids for the project.
Step 4: If an existing central air system is being upgraded, both the indoor evaporator and outdoor condensing unit should be replaced. The benefits gained from a unit featuring higher efficiency may be lost if only the condensing unit is replaced.