Maybe you never researched home air conditioning before, maybe your air conditioning is older and you are considering replacing it. There are some things that you should be aware of.
First if your furnace is over 12 years old you may consider replacing it at the same time as adding or changing your air conditioning equipment. Why? First of all Pacific Gas and Electric suggests to start looking at replacement at 12 years old.
There are a few other reasons...
- The furnace is used to move the cooler air around in your home and there are units now that are much more efficient at moving the air around. How much more efficient? Well the variable speed fan uses 50% less energy usage than the normal fan in a furnace.
- The gas usage in the new furnaces can be much more efficient. Your furnace depending on how old it is probably is anywhere between 50%-80% efficient (the older it is the less efficient). Today's furnace can be as efficient as 98%. What that means is that for every dollar of natural gas that goes in only 2 cents of fuel goes up the flue as opposed to 20-50 cents of every dollar of natural gas. This energy efficiency acronym is AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) 98% efficient is often referred to as 98 AFUE.
For every dollar of natural gas in the furnace example above 45-50 cents of every dollar goes up the flue (wasted energy).
- If you are replacing the air conditioning, sometimes you need to remove the furnace to add the inside portion of the air conditioning. Sometimes depending on how the home is configured this portion of the AC is placed under the furnace. This may be a factor to consider when deciding whether to replace the furnace or not.
If you didn't know, the condensing unit AKA the outside portion of the air conditioning is attached to the inside portion of the AC on the furnace (the furnace is also called air handler because it moves the air). They are attached with copper tubes that move refrigerant between the two units. The ac takes the heat from inside the home and throws it outside the home with that fan on the condensing unit. Then the cooled down refrigerant travels back to the coil attached to the furnace in a loop.
- I would be doing you a disservice if I neglected to mention this...The air conditioning refrigerant needed for air conditioning has changed to a more environmentally safe refrigerant. Some furnace and AC contractors are buying what's called a dry unit and charging it with refrigerant at the installation. If you choose the equipment that uses the older refrigerant (r22), be aware that the refrigerant used in these units has increased in cost significantly since January 2013. The scarcer it becomes the more expensive and less pure it will be as old refrigerant is recycled. It is time to adopt the new r410 refrigerant if you are changing out your equipment.
- Air conditioning outdoor units can be loud, disrupting outdoor meals and events. Some towns such as Los Altos, CA and Saratoga, CA have outdoor equipment sound requirements so neighbors and the peace is not disrupted - luckily there are some new sound insulated, much quieter condensing units. So if outdoor activity is important this should be a consideration. Also try to locate the unit where it will not disturb anyone inside the home. If there is a light sleeper, try to place it away from that bedroom on the outside of the home.
- Energy efficient air conditioning units. SEER Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (the higher the better) is the gauge that air conditioning makers use to determine how efficient the unit is. These ratings range from 13-21 SEER. Keep in mind that the higher the number usually means the bigger the equipment. There are also 1 and 2 stage air conditioners 1 stage is just that, it is on or off; 2 stages work at 50% of capacity unless 100% is needed. So for 80-90 degree days it is likely at 50% and 100 degree days it is likely working at 100% to keep you comfortable. If you live in a hot area, I suggest a 2 stage AC, if you live in a more temperate area maybe just 1 stage, of course personal comfort plays a role here too.
- Today's equipment also has more technical thermostats. The programmable thermostat is great, but today's thermostats are also communicating to the equipment and can display issues on the screen. This is a mini-brain to maximize your heating and cooling efficiency. These thermostats are learning devices, so they track how much power and how long it takes to change the temperature in your home and uses that information to keep you comfortable within 1 degree of the set point. These are also accessible when you are away from home via the Internet or have loved ones that need assistance in keeping comfortable.
So there is a lot to consider when getting new air conditioning, the AFUE of the furnace, the energy efficiency of the fan, the SEER of the AC unit, the noise levels, the space available outside, the type of refrigerant and whether to replace the furnace or not and the thermostat to get.
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If you need help with temperature, contact Cold Craft, Inc.
408.374.7292 or INFO@COLDCRAFT.COM