When you’re in the market for a new cooling system, nothing is quite as important as the air conditioner sizing process you’ll go through with your HVAC contractor. Cooling systems aren’t a one-size-fits all appliance. Much of how they’re sized depends on the energy efficiency of your home first, and its actual size second.
Reputable HVAC contractors use Manual J software to run the sizing calculation, also called a load calculation Manual J requires the following elements of your home in order to calculate the optimal A/C capacity:
Insulation levels in the attic and walls. Number of windows, their sizes, placement and orientation to the sun. Air infiltration rates. Cubic footage to cool. Floor plan design. Number of heat-producing appliances indoors. Landscaping factors. Temperature preferences, family size and ages.
The process will take time and it has to be done at your home. The HVAC pro will measure your windows, calculate the cubic footage and inspect the insulation levels. He’ll ask you questions about your family’s preferences and lifestyles for cooling.
Once all the data are input, the software returns a sizing recommendation. The next step is to use
Today, there are scads of online reviews for every kind of product imaginable, so the internet seems like the logical place to do research when you’re buying a new air conditioner. While it’s helpful to learn what other homeowners think about different brands and models by reading air conditioner reviews online, you’ll get the greatest benefit from a new A/C purchase by taking these key factors into consideration:
The quality of the installation plays a huge part in how well your new equipment performs and how long it lasts. This makes it vital to thoroughly vet HVAC contractors before you make a hiring decision. You’ll want to verify that a contractor is properly licensed and fully insured, and that they work with well-established equipment brands such as Lennox. Additionally, check their rating and track record with the Better Business Bureau, and ask for the names of previous customers who you can call for unbiased references.
A manufacturer’s warranty protects your investment in a new A/C against factory defects, so it’s important to compare the coverage that’s provided before choosing a specific model. If you want more comprehensive protection, look for brands that offer optional extended warranties …
On a hot summer day in Georgia, air conditioning can feel like the height of luxury. A nice breeze of cool air on your face… Things couldn’t get better than this. Well, in fact, they could. Have you considered a high-end air conditioner? You may think that high-end means too expensive. But in fact, the features pay for themselves over time with increased energy savings. Here are some of the benefits a luxury model can provide.
The first advantage of a high-end air conditioner is its higher SEER rating. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is the amount of cooling your A/C produces for the amount of energy it uses. The higher the number, the more efficient the system. The current minimum SEER rating is 14.5. Many luxury models have ratings up to 21, allowing them to provide superior cooling for less money.
Most regular A/Cs produce the same amount of cooling every time, until the house reaches its comfort level. But variable capacity models can produce less cooling on slightly warm days and more on sweltering hot ones. Not only does this save energy, it cuts down on cycling on and off, helping your unit last …
If you have a two-story home, cooling it evenly can be problematic. Making warm second-level rooms more comfortable by dialing down the thermostat setting frequently can make the main level downright chilly, and the extra energy this takes will send your utility bills soaring. The fact that heat rises is likely the primary reason for uneven cooling in your two-story home, but these issues may also be contributing factors:
Equipment age or size. As cooling equipment ages, its efficiency often declines. Improperly sized equipment can short cycle or simply may not have enough capacity to cool effectively.
Uncontrolled heat gains/losses. Air leakage through the conditioned envelope, leaky ductwork and/or insufficient insulation can reduce the amount of cool air delivered to some rooms and make cooling less effective.
Poor duct system design. Unbalanced system airflow due to inadequate sized ducts, insufficient return airflow or not enough supply or return ducts can cause uneven air distribution.
How to Fix Uneven Cooling
An experienced HVAC pro can assess your home and comfort system and advise you on ways to make cooling more consistent on all levels, such as:
Following these steps before turning on your air conditioner for the summer will prepare it for the long summer ahead. It will run more efficiently, cost less to cool your home and experience fewer breakdowns. An A/C works hard in this climate, and starting the season out with a clean and fully maintained system gets it off to a good start.
Inspect the air filter.
If it’s dirty, change it. Nothing is harder on your cooling system than a dirty air filter. It increases the amount of time it takes to cool your home by reducing the amount of air going through the air handler. The extra running time increase the wear and tear on all the parts and drives up energy bills.
Clean the outdoor condenser.
Remove any dead vegetation from the condenser area before turning on your air conditioner, leaving at least a three foot clearance on all sides. Hose off the coils gently to loosen the dirt. If you find caked-on grass clippings or soil, use coil cleaner available from home improvement stores to loosen them.
Change the thermostat settings.