If you're in the market for new central air conditioning, you might be overwhelmed with the options. Likely, you have a budget in mind, and you may have already begun shopping for the ideal system. But what do all the numbers mean, and what, exactly, affects the final price? It's not that complicated when you know how to interpret everything. Here are the three main factors that will determine the cost of your new air conditioning so you can choose the one that will cool your home most efficiently.
Also known as the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), the efficiency of your air conditioning affects price. The SEER rating is the ratio of the cooling capability to the power required to run the system. And the lower the SEER, the more power that's required.
Newer AC systems have SEER ratings that range from 14-21. But if you have an older system installed, it might be as low as 13. Recent changes in EPA standards now require systems have a rating of at least 14. Also, if you have a ductless or a geothermal system, the SEER rating might climb up to the 30s.
A 14-SEER system is typically the least expensive. Going from a 14- to a 15-SEER will usually mean spending about $1,000 more, while climbing to a 17 will require about $1,800 more.
It's important to note that the SEER rating isn't the only factor that determines energy usage and how efficient the system is. But generally speaking, a higher SEER should mean lower utility costs.
AC systems either have single-stage or two-stage cooling. Single-stage systems are less expensive, but what's the difference between the two?
A single-stage air conditioner works at the flip of a switch. And when it's on, it's running at full capacity.
Conversely, a two-stage air conditioner has a compressor that works at two different levels. When it starts, it's only running at partial capacity—usually 80%. As it gets hotter outside, the system gets triggered to run at full capacity to keep your home cooler. On cooler summer days or during the spring, the unit may not have to run at full capacity at all.
This dual level of power functions as an energy saver which means more money in your pocket in the long run. Two-stage systems are known for creating more even temperatures inside the home, and they also can remove up to twice as much moisture in the air as a single-stage unit.
The price difference between a single-stage and a two-stage air conditioner will depend on the SEER rating and size of the unit.
The size of a central air conditioning system is measured in tons, but this isn't a reflection of how much it weighs; it's a reflection of the cooling capacity. To be more specific, a one-ton unit cools 12,000 BTUs per hour. What size you need is determined by how big your home is or how many square feet need to be cooled.
Most systems nowadays start out at 1.5 tons and go all the way up to 5 tons. It's rare that a home would need anything higher than 5, but if you do, you'll need to have multiple units put in sine 6-ton systems are generally restricted to commercial buildings.
There's a simple equation you can use to find out what size you need. Take the square footage of your house and multiply it by 30, then divide by 12,000. From that number, you'll subtract 1.
For example, if your home is 2,000 square feet, you'll need a 4-ton unit according to the following math:
2,000 x 30 = 60,000
60,000/12,000 = 5
5 – 1 = 4
Getting the right size air conditioning for your home is important for several reasons. One, if the system is too big, it will cool your home quickly, but it does so by turning on and off frequently, driving up your utility bill. If it's too small, it will have to run all the time to keep your home cool, and you'll be dealing with the same issue.
Obviously, bigger systems are more expensive depending on the previously mentioned factors as well as installation costs which vary from contractor to contractor. For more information, contact companies like Nova Air Conditioning & Heating.