Summer is almost with us and soon your home will be heating up. The thought of looking for a new residential air conditioner, however, is enough to make you break out in a sweat. The question is, which one should you buy and how is it likely to affect your energy bill? What if window units aren’t allowed in your apartment building? Worry not since we have done the research on your behalf. See HVAC Contractor.
The secret to savings and optimal comfort is finding a suitable unit for your space. If your air conditioner isn’t powerful enough, it won’t cool your home effectively and you may find yourself staring at inflated power bills. On the other hand, an air conditioner that’s too powerful will work too quickly and shut off before the removal of most of the humidity, which will likely leave your space cool but clammy. In addition, all that cycling on and off will likely stress your equipment and shorten its lifespan.
The other key factor is energy efficiency. The energy efficiency ratio (EER) measures how well a cooling system operates when the outside temperature is 95 degrees. Look for air conditioners with an Energy Star label, which indicates that it is more efficient that the required government standards. However, you must always keep in mind that no matter how efficient the air conditioner might be, you won’t be as comfortable as you could be or even get the most value for your money if your home isn’t properly insulated and sealed.
With that in mind, here are some guidelines that will help you find the right air conditioner for your home.
In the United States, central air conditioning is the most popular type of cooling system. The United States Energy Information Administration has stated that over 75 percent of households that have a cooling system use central air.
New York City, however, is one of the large outliers. The reason is that it stock of buildings is older than that of major cities in the U.S., according to estimates by the Department of Buildings, with about 75 percent of buildings constructed prior to 1960 i.e. prior to the explosion in the popularity of central air conditioning.
Retrofitting older apartments with central air involves installing a condenser outside the property, a fan-and-coil system inside as well as ducts for distributing the cooled air. It does not come cheap and requires space, which is a resource that’s lacking in many apartments in New York City.
Even if you might be willing to give up one of your closets to install a central air conditioner in your pre-war apartment, your building might not let you put a condenser on the roof. Retrofitting an apartment constructed without the necessary ductwork could be quite expensive.
The best-case scenario (i.e. where you don’t need to run a pipe through a neighbor’s ceiling to get to the compressor), installing or replacing a whole-house system can cost an average of $2,650 and even go as high as $15,000.
The other key consideration is that most central air conditioners don’t have room-by-room control, which means that if you would like to cool the bedroom while you are asleep, you will be forced to cool the rest of the house too. Still, since the mechanical components and ducts are built-in, effectively hidden within the floors, walls, or attic, a central air conditioner is one of the most discreet options available.
If you decide that a central air system is ideal for you, check the buying guide by Consumer Reports for reliability by brand and ensure that you consider the system’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) that measures how efficiently an air conditioning system operates over the course of an entire season. Like energy ratio, the higher the value, the better.
The installer you hire for the project should work with you on a properly thought-out plan for where to put the ductwork and ensure that the ductwork is insulated. It is also important to budget for seasonal visits by a professional to clean the coils, change the filter and perform other maintenance tasks to make sure that the system works properly.
Bottom line: Central air conditioning is a convenient, quiet, and design-friendly way to cool your home, but only if you have sufficient space for the ductwork.
Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner
A ductless mini-split system can be an equally good option if a central air conditioning system is not an option. It is mounted on a wall and operated via remote control. It still requires and outdoor compressor, but there’s no bulky ductwork involved. The tubing that connects the indoor and outdoor units is also used for circulating refrigerant.
A ductless mini-split air conditioner might not be as discreet as a central air conditioner, but it is still highly efficient, since each of the units can be controlled separately. It can also provide heating. The cost of outfitting a 2,000 square foot home ranges between $1,800 and $7,000. The higher the number of wall units needed the higher the cost. As is the case with central air systems, installation is done by a professional and you need to budget for an annual maintenance check.
Window units are easy to install and inexpensive, which is why they are some of the most popular options when it comes to cooling individual rooms. The starting prices range from $129 for a small unit designed to cool a 150-square foot room to $599 for a larger unit capable of cooling a 1,600-square foot space.
To determine what size you need, first measure the room that you would like to cool and calculate the overall square footage. Visit Energystar.gov to find the recommended cooling capacity for your room size, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
It is also important to consider sun exposure along with how well the room is used. For instance, according to the Energy Star chart, you should reduce the capacity by 10 percent if the room is heavily shaded. If the room is regularly occupied by over 2 people, you should add 600 BTUs for every additional person. Increase capacity in the kitchen by 4,000 BTUs