Nothing is worse than when the temperature outside rises and your air conditioning system breaks down! Many of us lead very busy lives and keeping our home air conditioning system in working order is probably not at the top of our “to do” list. The result may be several days and nights of uncomfortable eating and sleeping in your home. Calling an expert in air conditioning repair will probably be required as today’s air conditioning systems can be a bit complex to fix. If repair is going to take several days, you may end of purchasing a window air conditioning unit or staying in a hotel. There are strategies you can follow so that living without air conditioning will be less likely to happen to you.
Selecting an Air Conditioning System
As mentioned above, today’s air conditioning systems are much more efficient due to better quality materials as well as electronic components that help to moderate the temperature in your home. When shopping for a new air conditioning system, make sure that it is Energy Star approved. Energy Star is a federal government program with the mission of helping homeowners and others improve HVAC and other systems so that they work efficiently and cost-effectively. This mission is coupled with the goal of not only saving us money, but also to reduce energy use and the emissions that negatively impact our environment. It is in all of our best interests to purchase, install, and use appliances and home systems that are approved by the Energy Star program.
Central Air Conditioning Systems
Unlike air conditioning window units, central air conditioning systems are designed to cool your entire house and not just a room. Central air conditioning systems are comprised of two large components: the condenser and the indoor air handler. The air condenser sits outside of your home. It is connected to an indoor air handler or furnace connected with coolant lines. The system also includes an evaporator coil. Ductwork is installed all throughout the home so that colder air can circulate through the house.
When shopping for an air conditioning system be sure to read reviews, ask a lot of questions, and, most importantly, determine the systems SEER rating. The higher a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) the more efficient the system. For example a SEER rating of 17 will run more efficiently than a system with a SEER of 10. Very old air conditioning systems can have a SEER rating of 6 that is very low.
High SEER rated air conditioning systems have several components in common: a variable-speed blower helps to lower electricity use, large coils, and a switch that allows you to turn the fan on-and-off as needed.
Maintaining an Air Conditioning System
Once you have had your air conditioning system installed, the key to keeping it in good working order for years to come is maintenance. Energy Star’s website (http://www.energystar.gov) has numerous recommendations regarding maintaining an air condition system. Here are some of Energy Star’s recommendations:
- Maintain your air conditioning system by putting it on a regular maintenance plan. This strategy will help you save money, will keep your system working longer, and you won’t be stuck when the outside temperature increases and your system won’t work.
- Have your duct system inspected and, if needed, replace worn out ducts. Have them cleaned and fix any place where leaks are occurring.
- Install a thermostat that you can program. A programmable thermostat will save you money while keeping you comfortable.
- Research and hire a HVAC contractor that has experience with EnergyStar requirements if you need assistance.
In addition, keep the temperature constant since increasing and decreasing the temperature in your home makes the system work harder resulting in higher costs. Maintaining a constant temperature is the best way to make sure that your air conditioning system works for many years. It is also a way of maintaining the correct humidity level in your home. Too high of humidity may result in mold growth within your home on dry wall and other surfaces that are damp.
Regular maintenance of your HVAC system is crucial. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance measures, such as changing the air filters monthly, and having an annual inspection of the system.
How do I know if I need to replace my air conditioning system?
If you are undecided on whether or not to replace your air conditioning system, take some time to answer the following questions:
- How frequently do you call in a contractor to fix your HVAC system? You may be spending more money on keeping your air conditioning working than if you purchased a new system.
- Air conditioning systems over a decade old may not meet Energy Star recommendations. Today’s HVAC systems are much more energy efficient, designed to save you money while providing a comfortable environment in your home for you and your family.
In the end, the goal is to have an air conditioning system that is effective and efficient, cooling your home cost effectively. Installing a system that is the correct size for your house, meets Energy Star guidelines, and has a high SEER rating should keep you and your family comfortable during hot weather.