Features to Look For When Buying a New AC Unit

Published on: August 16, 2012

If you are in the market for a new air conditioning unit, you should look for some specific features to make sure you select the best and most energy efficient unit for your home.

– The SEER Rating

Perhaps the most well-known feature to consider when purchasing a new air conditioner is the SEER rating. The SEER estimates and rates the energy usage of the unit over the course of the season. A high SEER rating means that the air conditioning unit will be more energy efficient and use less electricity to cool the home over a season. SEER ratings start at 13 and range to numbers in the low 20s. A SEER of 18 is considered a highly efficient unit and an air conditioner with a SEER over 20 is considered a very high efficiency unit.

– The EER Rating

Another rating of the energy efficiency of an air conditioning unit is the EER rating. The acronym “EER” stands for Energy Efficiency Rating. The EER differs from the SEER in that the SEER rating is an estimate of the energy efficiency of the AC unit over a season. The EER, on the other hand, is an estimate of the energy efficiency of an air conditioning unit during high temperatures. The EER is an indicator of how energy efficient the unit will be during the hottest days of the cooling season. An EER rating of 11.6 or above, combined with a SEER of 14 or above would be considered an energy efficient unit.

– Two-Stage System versus Single-Stage System

Look for an air handler that will run in two stages. These units are also known as variable speed air handler units. A two-stage system will be more energy efficient than a single-stage system because the compressor runs at a lower capacity to keep the air cool during the times of the day when temperatures are mild. The system then runs at a higher capacity during the hottest times of the day when the cooling demand is higher. Because of the variable speeds, the unit is more energy efficient than a single-stage air conditioning installation.

– Quiet Operation

A noisy air conditioner creates unnecessary background noise in the home. The quieter and unobtrusive the air conditioner, the quieter and more comfortable the home will be. Consider AC units that offer quiet operation to keep your home peaceful and minimize noise pollution.

– Mini-Split System versus Conventional AC System

A mini-split system utilizes a newer technology to cool the home. These highly energy efficient units implement an outdoor component, along with several small indoor units. The small indoor units are mounted on ceilings or walls in various rooms throughout the home. Each indoor unit controls the temperature for a given zone within the home. A conventional AC installation cools the entire home while, with a mini-split system, the system may control just one zone or the entire home at one time. Mini-split systems are energy efficient because these units quickly cool the zone. A conventional central AC unit will take some time to cool the entire home if the unit has been turned off. With a mini-split system, the zone temperature is quickly achieved. In addition, each indoor unit may be programmed so that if no one is in the room at a given time, the temperature for the zone may be set a few degrees higher to save more energy.

– The Check Filter Light

One convenient feature when considering a new air conditioning installation is the Check Filter light. The Check Filter light is a small light that is mounted on the thermostat. This light will turn on when the filter needs to be replaced or cleaned. The Check Filter light turns on after the system has run for a specified number of hours.

– Auto-Delay Fan Switch

As the compressor cools the air, the fan disperses the cooled air throughout the home. An air conditioning installation with an Auto-Delay Fan Switch allows the fan to run for a few minutes after the compressor has turned off. This feature allows any remaining cooled air in the duct system to be dispersed throughout the home.

– Programmable Thermostat

Most new air conditioning installations will include a programmable thermostat. The programmable thermostat will help you make your home more energy efficient by allowing you to set the temperature of the home higher when no one is home. For example, if your home is not occupied during the day, set the temperature about 5 to 7 degrees higher to save on energy costs, yet maintain a reasonable temperature inside the home.

Other features to consider for a new air conditioning system include cost of the unit, brand name and the warranty for the unit. Research all of your options when preparing for a new air conditioning installation. Your new air conditioner will be a significant investment in your home. Make sure to research your options to select the best unit for your needs and budget.