What is The Cost of A New Efficiency AC System?

Published on: March 8, 2013

Every homeowner wants to live in a comfortable, pleasant environment. Unfortunately, keeping your home cool can be expensive and detrimental to the environment. To combat these issues, many homeowners choose efficiency AC systems. Such systems are designed to control energy usage and to conserve precious resources. Thanks to new technologies, efficient air conditioning systems can offer the same level of cooling comfort as their older, less efficient counterparts. If you’re shopping for a new AC system, you’re likely concerned about how much making the switch to an energy-efficient unit will cost. Before you can determine the cost of a new unit for your home, you’ll need to decide on the type of system that you’re going to use.

Should You Buy An Efficiency AC System?

Many home and business owners grapple with the question of whether or not they should buy new, energy efficient AC systems. Perhaps your home’s current AC system provides a decent level of comfort. Maybe you’ve heard that new, efficient AC systems are very expensive. Making the choice to switch to a new system is, of course, a personal decision. However, you should weigh the following when deciding if you should buy a new system:

  • The age of your current system. If your system is more than 10 years old, it’s time to shop for a new AC unit.
  • Your current electricity bills. If your utility bills have gone up significantly since the last cooling season, your unit may be slowing down and should be replaced.
  • Your eligibility for tax credits, rebates and incentives. Special programs make it easier for buyers to afford choosing a new, energy-efficient system.

Choosing The Right Efficiency AC System for Your Needs

Once you’ve decided to buy an energy-efficient AC system for your home or business, you can begin the shopping process. As you shop, you’ll need to evaluate many different factors to decide what unit is best for you. Remember that spending a little bit more on a unit today will both save you on electricity bills in the future and will ensure that you can be completely comfortable in your home or business.

System Type Options

Choosing the right type of system is absolutely essential to ensuring that you are satisfied with your purchase. While shopping, you’ll notice that most systems fall into one of three categories. If you’re unsure of the type of system best suited to your home or business, ask your HVAC dealer. Your heating & AC dealer will guide you as you make your decision and can explain why each type of system will or will not provide efficient service in your building. Familiarize yourself with all three system types before shopping.

Central AC systems were the standard in new construction for several decades. These systems work by pumping cooled air throughout your home or business via ductwork. If your building doesn’t have ductwork, you may wish to avoid these systems as having ducts installed can be extremely expensive. Central systems can use either split or packaged units. Both types of units have at least one component that is installed outside your home on a concrete pad. New central AC systems boast much higher efficiency ratings than their older counterparts.

Ductless AC systems work by distributing cooled air from an outdoor unit throughout your home via air handlers. Individual air handlers are placed in your home and are generally mounted high up on walls or in the floor. Refrigerant lines run from the outdoor condenser unit to the individual air handling units. Many of these systems have received extremely high efficiency ratings and are preferred by consumers because they don’t require costly structural modifications.

Heat pumps can be used both with traditional, central air ducts and with ductless air handlers. These units are prized by home and business owners because they provide high efficiency and a long operating life. Heat pumps work by moving warm air outside of a building before pumping cool air back inside. By removing warm air, the cooling demands on the unit are lessened, allowing for greater efficiency. Heat pumps can also be used to expel cold air and generate heat during the winter.

Air Conditioner Sizing

Choosing an AC unit of the right size is absolutely essential to ensuring your own comfort and providing for the best energy efficiency possible. If you choose a unit that is too small, you’ll be left sweating and your AC will be working overtime. If you choose a unit that is too large, you’ll have to pay skyrocketing electricity bills because the unit will constantly cycle on and off. Consequently, the humidity levels will be too high, creating an uncomfortable environment. To calculate unit sizing, you’ll need to figure out the square footage of all areas that you want to cool.

Remember that the cooling capacity of AC units is expressed in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Ask your HVAC dealer to provide you with a chart that describes how many BTUs of cooling power you need given the space you’ll be cooling. Your dealer can complete professional load calculations to help you pick the unit that will provide the best results given your needs.

Your Comfort Preferences

Of course, your own comfort should be your top priority when shopping for a new AC unit. Before you start shopping, think about how often you plan to use the AC. Would you like to control the temperature of each room individually? If so, you’ll need to choose a unit that supports zoning. Do you want to control the temperature of your whole home from one central thermostat? You can choose a traditional unit that doesn’t support zoning. Spending money on a unit that will help you stay comfortable in your own space is a worthwhile investment.

Understanding Energy Star Ratings

Energy Star ratings and other efficiency ratings provide a key means of understanding the energy savings that you are likely to realize when you choose a certain unit. In general, Energy Star ratings include not only efficiency rankings but also information about the average cost of running an AC unit during the cooling season. Pay close attention to this figure. Units that provide the utmost in efficiency may cost about 10 percent more than less efficient units, but they will help you realize long-term energy savings that simply can’t be beat.

You may also notice that units are labeled with SEER ratings. SEER (season energy efficiency ratio) ratings describe how much energy a unit uses in order to produce cooled air. Units may receive a SEER rating between 12 and 23 with higher ratings indicating more efficient units. The majority of efficient, affordable residential units will have a SEER rating between 15 and 21.

Investing in A New Air Conditioning Unit

A new AC unit represents an exciting investment. In addition to ensuring your own comfort, you’ll also be increasing the value of your home. It’s a good idea to set a shopping budget before looking at units. Remember that financing the purchase of an AC unit now can lead to long-term energy savings. Talk with your dealer about manufacturer financing if you are concerned about how you’ll pay for your new AC unit.

What Factors Impact AC Unit Cost?

Several different factors impact overall AC unit cost. Familiarize yourself with these factors so that you can make the best purchasing decision given your needs. The following are cost factors that you should know:

  • Zoned systems tend to cost more than non-zoned systems.
  • Heat pumps tend to be the most expensive AC option but are also the most efficient option.
  • Traditional, central AC systems tend to be quite affordable. However, it’s important to consider how much cool air will be lost in your ductwork due to regular leaks.
  • Buying a ductless unit and air handlers together may present excellent cost savings.

Make The Most of Your AC Purchase

Many home and business owners can take advantage of tax credits, rebates and incentive programs in order to reduce the costs of buying a new, energy-efficient AC system. Your local HVAC dealer can provide you with information about tax credits and rebate programs. You can also check with your municipal utility company as they may offer incentives for home and business owners who make the switch to energy-efficient appliances. Keep an eye out for manufacturer rebate programs, which can also help to reduce the cost of a new AC system.

Working with A Trusted HVAC Contractor

If you’re considering buying an energy-efficient AC system for your home or business, it’s essential that you work with a professional HVAC contractor. Your contractor will help you find the right system given your needs. Of course, your contractor also has inside information about rebates, incentives and manufacturer-backed financing to make buying a new AC system a breeze. Choose one of the professional dealers from our network at AC Southeast® for all the information you need about energy efficient air conditioning.