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Factors to Consider When Buying an Air Conditioner in Indianapolis

AC Buying factors to consider

You’ve just bought a new home or your current residence is in need of some changes, and you’re ready to make some upgrades. Installation of new air conditioning system is a common choice for Indiana homeowners who are looking to improve cooling comfort indoors during the heat of the summer. If your old air conditioning unit isn’t providing the cooling capacity or energy efficiency you want, a new AC unit may be just what you need.

There are so many new air conditioning unit options available, from central air conditioner HVAC systems, heat pump systems, portable air conditioners, to window air conditioners. If this is your first experience buying an air conditioner and you’ve never had to replace an existing unit before, you might have some questions about what air conditioner to buy, how much a new unit will cost and making a cost effective purchase, determining the cooling capacity needed for the room size or square footage of your home, and more.

Williams Comfort Air is a licensed contractor in Central Indiana that can help you find the right new air conditioning system for your home, based on the factors important to you. As a professional contractor, we have some tips for making sure you’re getting the right new air conditioner that will keep your home properly cool and that each room receives the cooling it needs.

Learn more about the factors important when purchasing air conditioning units. An HVAC contractor explains the air conditioner BTU rating (British thermal units), energy usage and efficiency rating of an air conditioner, mechanical controls on new units versus remote control to adjust settings available through other models, additional features that improve convenience, and what to consider if you want to save money on the best AC system now and in the future.

What’s Important When Purchasing Air Conditioning Units?

When you’re looking for new air conditioners, you have a lot of air conditioning options. You could go with a window air conditioner, central air conditioner units, heat pump systems, or even a ductless air conditioner or heat pump. Professional home service companies sell and install many types of air conditioners and can help you determine the best air conditioner fit for your home. Here are the important factors you need to review.

Types of Air Conditioners

When shopping for an air conditioning system, you need to first determine the type of air conditioner unit you need. Thinking of the size of the space that requires cooling is a good starting point. Room air conditioning systems like window units and portable ACs are great if only one area of the home needs to be cool. A ductless AC system is a type of room air conditioner that can be used to cool one room or expanded to cool many areas of the home. A central air conditioner or heat pump system are other options for whole home cooling.

AC equipment including window air conditioners and portable models may have manual controls on the units or remote controls for convenience. Ductless equipment is ceiling or wall mounted and will have a remote control so you can easily adjust its settings. Heat pump and standard central air models are usually controlled by a central thermostat in the home.

Air Conditioner Capacity

Once you determine which type of air conditioning system you’d like to have, the next thing to consider is what size unit you need. The size of a central air conditioner, heat pump, or window unit refers to its cooling capacity.

The cooling capacity of central air conditioner units, heat pumps, window units, or wall mounted ductless AC system options refers to the ability of the unit to remove heat from a room or home. Air conditioners of any type don’t make the air cool by adding coolness of some sort – they make the air cool by extracting heat from the hot air using refrigerant and the evaporator coil to lower the air temperature. The capacity of cooling provided by any unit you look at tells you how much heat the system can remove from a space, expressed in British thermal units (BTUs), which is a common measure of heat energy.

Regarding your new HVAC system, you want a perfect fit. When you’re considering an air conditioner, it’s important to remember that the capacity of a system affects its overall efficiency. A slightly larger air conditioner may cool a room faster, but the system uses excess power and will cost you more money to operate. The system also experiences wear and tear at a faster rate, resulting in more breakdowns and an earlier death for the unit.

If you want to ensure your new air conditioner is the right capacity for the home or room size, the best way to do so is by working with a licensed contractor who installs HVAC units. A professional will perform a Manual J calculation which is the proper way to determine how much heat needs to be removed from a space and thus the proper size of air conditioner for the space.

Energy Efficiency of Air Conditioning Systems

Efficiency refers to how well an air conditioning appliance uses power from its source (electricity) to produce the desired cooling outcome. The efficiency of a central cooling system is measured by its SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. For room air conditioners such as window units and portable ACs, efficiency is measured by EER, which stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER or EER of an AC unit, the more energy efficient it is at cooling your home or room.

The efficiency rating of air conditioning systems impacts how much energy is used during the cooling process. Features such as variable fan speed can greatly improve unit efficiency. Buying an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating means the unit uses less energy to get its job done compared to a model with a lower rating. With lower consumption of electricity, a high efficiency air conditioner will allow you to save money on monthly energy bills versus a lower-rated unit.

Currently, high efficiency central air units are 20 to 26 SEER. High efficiency heat pump systems have SEER ratings between 20 to 23. For mini split AC systems that don’t require air ducts, high efficiency SEER ratings are 30 SEER and up. EER ratings for window units and portable AC models range from 6 EER to 16 EER.

For the remainder of 2022, the minimum SEER air conditioner available to Indiana homeowners is 13 SEER. Heat pump systems are available with a minimum of 14 SEER. In 2023, these regulations will change, and new air conditioners will be required to have a minimum SEER of 14; minimum 15 SEER for heat pumps. In 2023, consumers will start to see new SEER2 ratings on air conditioning systems, which will represent the unit’s efficiency under the government’s new testing procedures.

Indoor Air Quality Effects

Don’t forget about indoor air quality improvement when shopping for an air conditioner unit! New air conditioners often include features like dehumidifiers and enhanced air filter units that can help keep your home’s air clean and fresh all year round, while also helping you combat high humidity over the summer months.

These are additional features that come standard with some units, but must be added on when installing other models. If high humidity or allergens in your indoor air supply are a major concern in your household, you may benefit from cost savings if you purchase and install an air conditioning model with these features versus having to purchase indoor air quality equipment separately.

Air Conditioner Installation Costs

Many people don’t realize that the costs of installing new cooling systems are often much higher than the cost of the actual equipment itself. This is because of the labor costs involved in installing a new system and anything else needed to help the system work properly in the home, as well as the cost of removing and disposing of an existing unit.

Air conditioner installation prices vary widely, with window and portable room units being much cheaper than central air systems. Room air conditioners cost in the hundreds of dollars. Central air conditioners are typically a little bit cheaper than heat pumps, while ductless systems are usually the most costly cooling system option. Factors that impact the unit price as well as installation cost include:

  • Larger capacity units are typically more expensive than lower capacity systems.
  • Higher efficiency ratings typically mean higher prices.
  • Installing new ducts significantly increases installation cost.

Some homes were not designed with cooling systems in mind, as they were built before they were considered necessary or the builder did not plan to install a central air HVAC system at the time. In these homes, installation of air ducts will be necessary to use a central air or heat pump unit. Ductless systems are often a good option because they don’t require the work and expense of ductwork installation.

Air Conditioning Unit Lifespans

The lifespan of an air conditioner depends on many factors and varies widely from one model to another.

  • Central air units last 15 to 20 years on average.
  • Heat pumps average 10 to 15 years.
  • Ductless mini splits can last around 20 years.
  • Window air units tend to last 8 to 10 years.

The lifespan of your air conditioner is directly related to how well it’s installed, how much it is used, and how it is cared for over its life. If you hire a professional to install your new cooling system, they will take care of all the details for you and make sure that everything is done right. Your HVAC professional can also perform annual maintenance services to protect your central air unit. This means that you’ll get a more durable unit with a longer lifespan.

Professional Guidance When Buying an Air Conditioner

Now that you know more about what to look at when buying an air conditioner, hopefully you’ll find the process quite simple. To ensure you find the best air conditioning units, work with the professionals at Williams Comfort Air. We provide expert guidance throughout the air conditioning buying process plus quality installation for your new unit. Call us today to receive an estimate for new air conditioner installation in your home.

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