Questions to Ask When Evaluating a New Air Conditioning System

Multi Zone Air Conditioners Outside UnitsThe good news about replacing your old air conditioning system with a modern, high-efficiency model is it will reduce energy usage; saving you money on utility bills. The reliability of a new HVAC system is also a big plus. To keep you from experiencing any bad news, the following questions are offered to ensure you get the best possible HVAC unit, for the best price – and one that matches your household’s requirements.

How are you determining the size of my HVAC unit?

The proper way to size heating and cooling systems is to calculate the actual heating and cooling loads for your home. An HVAC system that is too small cannot deliver adequate cooling or heating. A system that is too large will not only cost more, it will provide poorer temperature and humidity control.

Determining those factors requires that a contractor measure your house completely, get all the insulation ‘R-values,’ window types, orientation, infiltration rate, duct leakage and more. Those results are put into load calculation software to find out how many BTU’s per hour your home needs. The most common way of doing this is to use the Manual J load calculation protocol developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

In sizing your HVAC system be wary of the following:

  • A contractor wants to install the same size HVAC system you already have, just because…
  • Suggesting a bigger system to stay cooler, without proper measurement. Remember, an oversized heat pump is less efficient than a properly sized unit.
  • Using just the square footage of your home to guesstimate the right size.

What additional air quality components do I need, if any?

Thanks to technology advances, some new air conditioners can simultaneously cool your home, keep the air quality high and maintain a consistent humidity level. However, if your home is older, susceptible to air leaks and drafts, or prone to airborne pollutants, you might want to consider select indoor air quality components for healthier, more breathable air. This can include a range of products including:

  • Dehumidifiers: ideal for homes that tend to get hot and sticky.
  • Ventilators: whole-home ventilators help homes with tight building envelopes to pull in fresh air and push out stale air.
  • Air cleaners and Ultraviolet (UV) lamps: UV lamps ward off bacteria and mold that tend to grow around air conditioners and air cleaners capture pollen, dust, tobacco smoke, mold, and even bacteria circulating through the air.

It is up to you, in tandem with your contractor, to determine and decide which, if any, of these air quality products are needed in your home.

Why do I need more add-on products, if you have evaluated my HVAC needs correctly?

Many Florida homes are susceptible to air quality issues (as explained in #2). But be wary if your contractor is trying to up-sell you in other ways. The following are tips on avoiding unnecessary ‘up-sells’.

  • Get multiple estimates from established Air Conditioning contractors who have positive reputations and are appropriately licensed and insured such as Custom Climate Concepts.
  • Keep asking questions until you understand the HVAC system being proposed and why. A reputable contractor should be willing to take time to explain everything, not simply push you to make a quick decision.
  • Be proactive: ask questions, do research and take whatever time you need to make a decision.
  • Never forget that it’s your money. It’s your home. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Be especially suspicious of a AC contractor who uses ‘scare tactics’ or insists you must take this ‘deal’ right away.

What is my TOTAL cost for a new AC System?

When it comes evaluating and buying a new heating and cooling system, you should know exactly what you’re getting into. Comprehending the total cost of your new system starts with understanding the installation estimate. Have your Air Conditioning contractor explain the cost breakdown, including the system pricing, the labor cost, charges for any extras that were previously agreed upon and their installation.

Getting a new HVAC system is a big investment. It’s also an opportunity to improve the comfort, healthfulness, durability, and energy efficiency of your home. Your involvement is crucial, however, to avoid any ‘bad news’ regarding your decision.

Stay tuned for Custom Climate Concept’s next blog post:  New HVAC System Installation Checklist