2020 Air Conditioning Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the Right Air Conditioning System for Your Home
Installing or replacing an air conditioning system in your home is a big decision. Quality air conditioning systems can be expensive. Air conditioning is definitely a worthy investment for your home, but requires research. You want to be sure you get the right type of air conditioning system, and that it’s properly sized. You also need a contractor who understands your unique needs and provides expert installation as well as service after the sale.
At Clarkstown Heating & Air Conditioning, we not only make it a priority to provide our customers with the best products and expert installation. We also work hard to ensure that you have all the information you need when it comes to making a decision on your home comfort system. We believe that an informed customer is a happy customer – so we’re always happy to explain everything you to up front, and to provide you with everything you need to make an informed decision.
Our 2020 Air Conditioning Buyer’s guide will help you with some very common questions many homeowners have as they consider purchasing a new AC system. We’ll explore the different types of air conditioning systems available, helping you discover the right kind for your home. You’ll learn about ways you can tell if you need to replace your home’s AC, and how you can save energy before – and after – installation. And, you’ll learn about a few of the benefits to choosing a maintenance plan for your new system.
How Does Air Conditioning Work?
Believe it or not, your air conditioning system is actually pretty similar to your refrigerator. It works by using refrigerant to cool your indoor air. The refrigerant is house in coils inside the system, and fans move the warm air over these coils, and then blow the cooled air back out into your living space. The refrigerant in the coils absorbs the heat and turns to a gaseous state. Then the heat is sent outdoors, allowing the refrigerant to return to a liquid state, which starts the process all over again. The main parts of the air conditioning system include the hot coils, the cold coils, the compressor, fans and the expansion valve.
How Much Does It Cost To Install A New Air Conditioning System?
The cost to install an air conditioning system varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Very broadly speaking, new AC can run anywhere from $3000 to $7000 or more, based on estimates from the home services company Home Advisor. Here are a few factors you’ll want to consider if you’re thinking about an air conditioning installation:
- Size of your home: It stands to reason that the larger your home is, the larger the size you’ll need for your air conditioning system. In some cases, people need more than one unit installed in order to adequately and efficiently cool their home. A qualified home comfort contractor will be able to properly size your unit.
- Duct System: The condition of your duct system can play a huge role in determining the cost of your new system. If you need new ducts installed, that can double the cost of your installation. However, there are ductless options available, if the installation of new ductwork in your home is impossible or impractical.
- System Efficiency: The most efficient air conditioning systems are generally more expensive. However, you should also know there are usually rebates and incentives available on energy-efficient systems, not to mention the savings you’ll likely experience on your utility bills. For those with old, inefficient systems, high-efficiency AC often pays for itself in energy savings.
What Are The Different Types of Air Conditioning Systems?
Today, there are many different types of air conditioning systems available. Because there are more choices, it’s easier than ever to choose AC for your home. Homeowners with central air conditioning already installed often opt to replace those systems with newer, more efficient models. For people who have baseboard or radiant heat, there are modern cooling options available that require no ductwork – and are much more efficient and quiet than window units of the past. Still others are looking for air conditioning that’s ultra-efficient, and leaves a small carbon footprint.
At Clarkstown, we install a variety of different types of air conditioning. Whether you’re replacing an old system, building a new home, or looking for ways to make an addition or converted space more comfortable, we’re able to provide you with the right type of air conditioning for your unique situation. Learn more below about the types of air conditioning systems we install.
- Central Air Conditioning: Central air conditioning provides cooling throughout your home using your existing system of ductwork. It keeps you comfortable by distributing cooled air throughout your home. There are generally two parts to a central air conditioning system – the condenser part of the unit typically sits outdoors, and the air handler part usually sits either in the basement or attic. Central air conditioners use refrigerant to cool the air. The units we install are highly energy efficient, and use a type of refrigerant that is both energy efficient and non-ozone depleting – making it better for the environment.
- Ductless Air Conditioning: If you have radiant or baseboard heat in your home, or if you have an addition, finished basement, or converted attic or garage, ductless AC might be the right choice for you. Ductless helps you get the cooling (and heating) to the places in your home where ductwork might be impractical or impossible. One of the best parts about ductless cooling is that it also requires minimal construction to install – so your system will be up and running quickly. Plus, ductless operates quietly and easily, and is made to blend seamlessly with virtually any décor. Not to mention, ductless air conditioning is highly energy efficient, so you’ll likely save energy – and money on your utility bills.
- Heat Pumps: Many people don’t know that heat pump systems also provide cooling. A heat pump system transfers hot air – from the inside to the outside in the summer, and from the outside to the inside in the winter. So, when you install a heat pump, you’ll enjoy a cool, comfortable home when the weather outside is scorching, and cozy warmth during the cooler months. Besides providing both cooling and heating for your home, heat pumps also provide another amazing benefit – ultra efficiency. The systems we install at Clarkstown are environmentally sound, ENERGY STAR® rated, and use a type of refrigerant that is both high-efficiency and non-ozone depleting.
What Size Air Conditioning System Do I Need For My Home?
For the average homeowner, sizing your own system can be a daunting task, which is why we recommend having an expert help. However, there are a few ways you can get a ballpark estimate of what size system you’ll likely need.
First of all, you should know that when we talk about size, we don’t mean the actual physical size of the unit. We mean its ability to produce cooled air. This factor is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. The larger the space to cool, the more BTU output your air conditioning system will need. If your AC system is too small, it won’t adequately be able to keep your home cool on hot days. Too large a system will result in a system that cycles on and off too frequently, which wastes energy, and poorly dehumidified air.
When you call in an expert to help properly size air conditioning for your home, they’ll look at a few factors:
- How well is your home insulated? It stands to reason that a well-insulated home will be better at holding in the conditioned air, helping your AC system function properly and saving energy.
- What are the actual dimensions of your home? You can estimate about what size you’ll need based on the size of your home. On average, a 2,000 square foot house probably will need a 3.5-ton AC system, although it could be larger or smaller based on other factors (climate, insulation, etc.)
- What is your climate like? Obviously, people in the southern part of the United States are going to have more demand placed on their air conditioning systems, because of more frequent hot days and higher humidity levels.
How Do I Know Which Air Conditioning Brand Is Right For My Home?
There are many brands of air conditioning systems available on the market today, and air conditioning has evolved greatly since it was first discovered and implemented by Willis Carrier in 1902. Carrier first designed the air conditioning system to provide humidity control at a printing company, but it quickly moved into the mainstream, being used in theaters and stores shortly thereafter.
The Carrier® brand is still one of the most respected brands of air conditioning to this day. They make the Carrier Infinity Series central air conditioner, which is among the industry’s most efficient system available. This system is ENERGY STAR approved, and uses Puron™, a refrigerant that leaves a smaller carbon footprint because it does not harm the ozone layer. Carrier also offers the Performance Series, which supplies efficiency and affordability. This system is also ENERGY STAR approved and uses Puron as well.
Carrier Factory Authorized Dealers are experts on technical aspects of equipment installation, maintenance and repair of Carrier systems, as well as all brands of HVAC products. In order to become and remain a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, a company must provide extensive factory training to its technicians; maintain all required local licenses, insurance, and liability coverage; provide a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee; employ NATE-certified technicians, and provide customers with excellent comfort and value.
How Do I Know If My Home Air Conditioning System Needs Repair or Replacement?
When homeowners are considering an air conditioning replacement, they often have a lot of questions. Because air conditioning is an investment, most people want to be sure they even need to replace their system first and foremost. ENERGY STAR provides some helpful guidelines to people who are deciding on whether to replace their system or not. Here’s what they say:
- Age of AC System: If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider a replacement. Modern units are far more energy efficient than their predecessors, and when properly installed by a Clarkstown professional, modern systems can save you up to 20 percent on cooling costs.
- Frequent Repairs/Increase in Energy Bills: This means your system is struggling to operate properly, which could be happening for a number of reasons. It could be simply that your system is old and wearing down, or it could be from lack of maintenance or improper sizing for your home. If you are paying a lot in repair bills, and your energy usage is through the roof, this should be cause for concern.
- Humidity Problems: Have you noticed that your indoor air is too humid during the summer months? That could be caused by poor equipment operation, improperly sized equipment, or a combination of both. If humidity is a continual problem in your home, it can cause mold, mildew and damage. Clarkstown can help you find the right solution to your humidity concerns.
- Noisy Cooling System: This indicates a couple of different things – either your duct system is not sized properly (likely undersized) or there is a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. Any sudden onset of loud noises coming from your system is cause for concern – you should call a professional right away and turn your system off.
How Can I Save Energy On Cooling My Home?
As much as most consumers love the cool comfort of their homes that they get from having air conditioning, most people dread the costs associated with it. Like anything mechanical that operates in your home, your air conditioning system takes energy to operate. And of course, the more energy it uses, the more money you’re going to have to pay in utility bills. Before you call us to talk about installing a new system, consider the following:
- How old is your system? The older it is, the lower the efficiency. Not only are newer models of AC manufactured to provide much higher energy efficiency, they also use a type of refrigerant that’s more energy efficient and does not harm the ozone layer.
- Is your system sized properly? At Clarkstown, we’re professionals and highly experienced in air conditioning installations. We make sure that the air conditioner we install in your home is the right size for your needs. But, even if we didn’t install your current system, there are ways we can help you improve your home’s cooling system. Let us talk to you about the ways we can help you maximize your efficiency.
- Have you gotten regular air conditioning maintenance? If you haven’t received the proper annual maintenance for your system, there is a good chance your system’s efficiency is not as good as it could be. Without annual maintenance, your system can get dirty, making it harder for its components to work smoothly. And this can highly influence the amount of energy you use.
Why Should I Choose An HVAC Maintenance Plan?
Once a new air conditioning system is installed, it’s tempting for homeowners to just sit back and enjoy the cooling, without thinking of how to best keep the system running for years to come. But your new air conditioning system is a major investment in your home. It can help keep you and your family cool and comfortable for a long time when you treat it properly. And the best thing you can do for your new system is to choose an annual maintenance plan for it.
At Clarkstown, we’re committed to providing excellent maintenance services for your equipment. Getting the maintenance you need is important – so important, in fact, that the Dept. of Energy (DOE) tells us, “Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.” So what will annual maintenance do for your system? The DOE suggests the following benefits:
- Keeping filters clean. If your system’s filters are dirty – and they probably are if you’re in need of maintenance – it can cause all sorts of problems. Clogged filters will block the air from flowing normally, which puts a huge damper on system efficiency. Not to mention, a dirty filter allows more dirt and buildup inside your system, impairing your AC’s ability to operate properly.
- Cleaner coils. Over the course of service, it’s only natural that your air conditioning system’s coils will start to experience a buildup of dirt and debris. Annual maintenance is important because your technician will check your coils yearly, and will clean them as needed.
- Functioning fins. Evaporator and condenser coils have aluminum fins, which unfortunately are easily bent. Once bent, airflow through your coil can get obstructed. Using a tool called a fin comb, your technician will comb the fins back into place, so the air can flow freely once more.
- A “draining” experience. Condensate drains can get backed up with clogs from dirt and other debris. Annual maintenance will help keep the drain free of clogs, allowing your system to operate more efficiently and keep the moisture at bay in your home.
- Keeping the warranty in check. Most manufacturers require annual maintenance in order to keep warranties in place. If you don’t get the prescribed amount of annual maintenance per your warranty, then it could be voided – and that could be costly should your system need future repairs or premature replacement.