5 Things to Look For in Central Air Conditioning Systems
Central air conditioning systems are built so that a central unit cools and dehumidifies air before circulating it throughout a building. Central air is often installed with a heating system, since both systems use the same electrical grid and ductwork to circulate cooled or heated air. This type of air conditioning is ideal for large structures, or in hot, humid climates.
Here are five things to look for in a central air conditioning system
- Size. It’s most important to choose the right size central air conditioning system for your building. An oversized unit turns on and off too frequently, which uses more electricity. A unit that’s too small will not be able to keep the temperature cool enough on the hottest days. For best results, ask a contractor to do a load calculation, which will figure in the size of the home, the window square footage, the insulation levels and other such factors. In addition to size, you also need to consider the location of the central air conditioning unit. If the unit is installed where there is too much interference, then the air won’t flow freely.
- Moisture performance. Controlling the humidity is one of the major jobs of a central air conditioning unit. Different systems vary in their ability to remove the moisture from the air. This is why it is important to match the size of the system to your house or building. A system that is too big will not be on long enough to draw moisture from the air. Ask about moisture removal before you buy a unit.
- Energy Efficiency Rating. When choosing a central air conditioner, look for its SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). This will tell you how the system operates during the hottest weather. The SEER number indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. New models of central air conditioning systems are rated 13 or higher. Older units (manufactured before 2006) can have SEER ratings of 6 or less.
- Quiet operation. Ever been to a home where the air conditioning system turns on with a bang? The best air conditioning units should operate so quietly you don’t even hear them turn on.
- More energy saving features. Newer model central air conditioning systems have many convenient and energy saving features, including: a thermal expansion valve, a variable speed air handler, a fan-only switch (so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to substantially reduce air-conditioning costs), a filter check light to remind you to check the filter periodically, an automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off.
Central air conditioning systems can give you high levels of comfort and energy efficiency, if you take the time to research what is right for your living space.