Tips for Buying a New AC System
Buying a new Air Conditioning system is a big decision, that’s why AMS A/C & Heating lays down all the tips and tricks we know below. These Air Conditioning Buying Tips can help you make the right choice, save energy and money.
1. DON’T BE TEMPTED BY COST
Don’t be tempted by the lowest bid or the highest bid. You need to make sure you know what you are getting. Bids could range from $4,000 to $14,000 for a new AC system.
2. DON’T BUY “NO NAME” SYSTEM
Don’t be tempted to buy a no name AC system, just because it has a 10 year warranty. If the compressor goes out, it could still cost you over a $1,000 to replace it.
3. REPLACE WHOLE SYSTEM
If you are replacing an existing air conditioner, you must replace the whole system, including the inside coil and furnace, to achieve the rated efficiency.
4. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING
Make sure the HVAC contractor provides you the system type (straight cool or heat pump), AC system efficiency rating (ask for a copy of the AHRI Certification), system size (tons), rebates and warranties (make sure the labor warranty covers replacing parts).
5. GET AHRI CERTIFICATION
After you get the HVAC contractor’s bid, ask for copy of the AHRI Certification. If the contractor asks you what is an AHRI Certification, don’t use that contractor.
6. REVIEW AHRI CERTIFICATION
You should review the AHRI Certification that the HVAC contractor provided. The certification will show you:
- Efficiency of the System
- Equipment Model Numbers
- System Size (Tons or BTUs)
- System Type (straight cool, heat pump)
Sometimes a contractor will say a AC system is an 18 SEER system (because it is in the Manufacturer’s 18 SEER line), when it is actually rated by AHRI at 16 SEER. You should not use a contractor who tried to mislead you.
7. ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION ANALYSIS
Ask your HVAC contractor to provide an electricity consumption analysis of the options he gave you pricing for. If the contractor cannot provide it in writing and just says you’ll save X%, don’t use that contractor. See AC SEER Ratings for more on AC Electricity Consumption Analysis.
8. BUY A HIGH-EFFICIENCY UNIT
New air conditioners are required by federal law to have a SEER of 14 or higher. Even though it will cost more, it’s usually worth it to buy a new AC unit that exceeds 14 SEER because over time that initial investment will be paid back with energy savings. See AC SEER Ratings for AC Electricity Consumption Analysis.
9. NEVER BUY OVERSIZED UNIT
Don’t buy an oversized AC unit. Studies show that one third to one half of home air conditioners don’t work the way they should because they are oversized. An oversized air conditioner turns on and off more often than it should and won’t dehumidify the air as well as a smaller system would. You pay more for it, and it uses more energy, raising your utility bills. An oversized air conditioner doesn’t mean cool comfort for you. It means higher first costs, higher electricity bills, and a home that’s uncomfortable to be in. Ask your HVAC contractor to provide you a Load Calculation for your house.
10. PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
Make sure they are providing a new programmable thermostat. It will save you on average $250 a year.
11. AVOID SURPRISE ADD-ONS
Make sure the final cost includes everything. You don’t want to be surprised with add-ons later. Ask if your duct size and electrical is appropriate for the new AC system.
14. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING
Like a car manufacturer, each AC manufacturer makes different air conditioning models. Just because you are buying a General Motors doesn’t mean you are getting a Cadillac. Go to the manufacturer’s web site and review the models that you are looking at. Remember, just because one manufacturer’s system costs more does not mean you are getting more.
15. DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S BROKEN
Know when it is time to replace your AC. Don’t wait until you’re desperate to cool your house down in the middle of the hot summer. If you have an HVAC technician that regularly maintains your AC system, ask the technician when you might need to replace your air conditioning system. If your AC system is over 15 years old, you should expect it to start failing more frequently.
16. PLAN AHEAD
Plan ahead and buy during non-peak season. If you plan ahead and purchase your new AC system during non-peak season, your HVAC work will be easier to schedule and you can more than likely receive off-peak season pricing.
12. ALL INCLUSIVE FINAL COST
Make sure the final cost includes a new supply plenum, new float switch, new programmable thermostat, reconfiguration of vent pipe (if gas heat), gas flex line, new auxiliary drain pan, and removal of existing equipment. If your HVAC contractor is not providing any of these items, asked him why. Optional items would be a new AC condenser pad and new electrical disconnect for the condenser unit.
13. WILL IT LAST 15 YEARS?
Ask the HVAC contractor how long your new AC system will last. He should tell you it will last around 15 years. He also should tell you that during the AC installation he will flush the existing AC refrigerant lines and use nitrogen to purge the system while brazing the refrigerant lines of the new air conditioning system (which prevents oxidation within the lines). You should not use a contractor that does not flush the refrigerant lines or does not use a nitrogen purge when brazing. Remember, the AC installation is the most important thing when it comes to a new AC system.
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