Thinking about Your AC Unit in the Winter

January 22, 2016

While it may be cold outside and you have the heater blasting, now is the perfect time to consider pre-scheduling annual AC maintenance–or, installing a new or replacement central or ductless air conditioner in your home. During the wintertime, the installation schedule is less frantic, and there’s also a good chance you may get a special ‘slow season’ discount, depending on what you purchase. Your new air conditioner can be fully installed now, with just a quick startup visit needed by one of our service techs when the weather warms up. Of course, right after your installation is completed, this startup appointment will be pre-scheduled for a time when outdoor temperatures are ideal for checking operation, later in the springtime.

Why should you pre-schedule annual maintenance for your existing central or ductless AC system now? The most important reason is so that you don’t forget to call, to help avoid having to ‘wait in line’ for a good technician to come visit when the first heat wave arrives. Call now, and also take the time to learn about annual service agreements, which place the responsibility for scheduling on your service company, while also providing additional pricing incentives.

Installing a New Air Conditioner Now? What Size Do You Need?

For those currently in the market for an air conditioning system, how do you know what size unit is right for you? The best answer lies in having an accurate, detailed, cooling load calculation performed for your home. This service is typically performed by a qualified HVAC contractor when providing a free estimate for new equipment installation. The end result is a professional recommendation for an air conditioner sized appropriately for your home, and whose cooling capacity is referred to in terms of the amount of ‘tons of cooling’ that your home requires.

‘One ton’ of air conditioning is roughly equivalent to 12,000 btu’s of cooling power. For a frame of reference, most window AC units are rated between 5,000 and 10,000 btu’s. The normal size range of whole-house residential central air conditioners is between 2 and 5 tons, or, between 24,000 and 60,000 btu’s of cooling. So it can make a huge difference to have the right sized unit installed in your home! Some of the more important factors that influence cooling load calculations are your home’s square footage, wall and attic insulation, window square footage and type, crawlspace or floor insulation, air infiltration, and window coverings and solar gain.

Sizing from a Trusted Professional

While a case can certainly be made that there are acceptable general guidelines ‘out there’ for sizing air conditioners, which mostly relate to square footage and age of your home, when making this important, long-term investment in a new home comfort system, we urge you to take the time to become a fully informed purchaser. Sometimes, it’s those ‘little details’ can make a big difference five or ten years from now!

What Should You Buy?

Once you know what size air conditioner makes sense for your home, you can then begin the process of learning about efficiency ratings–SEER being the most important number for air conditioners–and design features such as 2-stage and variable capacity cooling. Not to mention the all-important ‘db’ sound level ratings. Take the time to learn about options for your home, and become familiar with several recommended manufacturers and the warranties they offer.
Most importantly: Take the time to choose an experienced, reputable, HVAC contractor who you feel comfortable working with, and can provide assurances of professional service, 24/7–now and in the future.

Winter Maintenance…Filter Reminder!

While the middle of winter isn’t an appropriate time to perform annual maintenance on your air conditioner, and hopefully your furnace or boiler is already all set… Don’t forget to check your furnace filter now! We often find that right after the holidays a bunch of furnaces are in need clean, new filters, or should have filter cleaning performed.

Remember: A neglect furnace filter can take a big bite out of your wallet if neglect for too long!