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How to Buy a New Air Conditioning Unit

How to Buy a New Air Conditioning Unit

Buying a new central air conditioning unit is an intimidating prospect. These units don’t come cheap; installing a new central air conditioner in a 2,000-square-foot home can cost between $3,500 and $4,000 on average. A new air conditioner is a huge investment in your home, and if you choose the wrong unit, or the wrong contractor, you’ll pay for it in the form of increased installation costs, higher energy bills, and an uncomfortable home.

Before you go shopping for a new central air conditioner, understand the types of units available on the market. Learn how to tell if your contractor is sizing your unit properly. While an energy-efficient air conditioner might cost more up front, it’ll make up for those higher initial costs with lower energy bills in the future.

Understand the Types of Air Conditioners Available

You might be surprised to learn that there are multiple types of air conditioners, especially if you’ve always used a central air system that distributes cooled air through your home’s existing ductwork. Most air conditioners are split systems, meaning that they consist of an outdoor condenser and compressor, and an indoor coil. Some are heat pumps, which serve the purpose of both heating and cooling by removing heat from the house during the summer and pulling it into the house during the winter. The heat is either disposed of or pulled from the ground, depending on the season.


In a central air conditioning system, refrigerant that circulates between the outdoor compressor and the indoor coil cools and dehumidifies air. A blower fan then distributes that cooled air around the house through ducts. An alternative to central air systems, the split ductless system, uses multiple indoor blower units to distribute cool air around the house. In a split ductless system, indoor units must be installed in each room you wish to cool. Split ductless systems are a good option for homes that don’t have existing ductwork, since it saves you having to rip open the walls to install ducts.

Get the Right Size Unit

It’s not uncommon for contractors to install oversized air conditioners. They do this not because a larger unit is better, but because they don’t size the units properly. A qualified air contractor should size your unit based on rules laid out in the Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual J, and he or she should use Manual D to make sure your home as the right size ductwork. A good contractor will spend at least an hour measuring floors, ceilings, and walls in your home; checking insulation in the walls, crawlspaces, and attic; and asking questions. Factors like the number of people who live in your home, your area’s average outdoor temperature, the average temperature inside your home, the amount of natural shading your home has, and even the color of your roof can affect your air conditioner size needs. When you get a bid from a contractor, you should get a printout of his or her cooling load calculations. These printouts can be lengthy and complicated, so don’t be afraid to ask the contractor questions about anything you don’t understand, and ensure the bid takes into account all of the factors that can affect your home’s cooling needs.

Make sure you get a properly sized air conditioner when you hire a reputable contractor like Cooper Climate Control to install your new unit. A unit that is too big will start and stop more often than is necessary, which can raise your energy bills. It may cool your home inefficiently, cost more to buy and install, and fail sooner than an appropriately sized unit. Air conditioners are sized by tons of cooling power; a ton of cooling power is about as much cooling as you’d get from melting a ton of ice. A one-ton air conditioner can remove about 12,000 BTUs from your home.

Have a contractor run your cooling load even if you’re replacing an existing air conditioner — your previous contractor may have calculated your cooling needs incorrectly, or your home’s cooling needs may have changed. New windows, increased insulation, the addition of a new room or rooms, or changes in the number of occupants are some of the things that could alter your home’s cooling needs.

Choose an Energy Efficient Model

Though energy-efficient air conditioners cost more to buy, you’ll save money over the long run on your energy bills, making these models cheaper overall. Look for the Energy Star label when you buy an air conditioner. In order to maintain the efficiency rating when you replace an air conditioner, you need to replace all of it — the condenser, the blower, and the inside coil. Replacing just part of your unit could negatively impact its energy efficiency.

Don’t let replacing your air conditioning unit scare you. A new air conditioner is a big expense, but it’s well worth it for the comfort it provides — and in some climates, it’s not a luxury, but a necessity. Educate yourself before you go shopping for a new unit, and you’ll be sure to find a unit that meets your needs, for a reasonable price.

****This is a guest post featured on behalf of Michaela Kajiwara from Business Outreacher****

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Johnny
    22 May, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I didn’t realize that you could actually save money on energy efficient air conditioners in the long run. I would love to do the math and see how long it would actually take. Becoming more energy efficient is something I would love to do. This was really fun to read and eliminated some of my fears. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Jack White
    25 June, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    So, would getting a more energy efficient AC unit help me in terms in insurance? Would it also help me when I plan on selling the house. Spending money on an AC unit is scary, but if it will save me money on these things it is worth it.

  • Reply
    Meg Lund
    14 July, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I need to replace my air conditioning unit, however, I don’t even know where to begin. I really liked your advice to choose and energy efficient model. I definitely agree that if you go this route you will save more money because it will reduce your energy bill. Thanks for the suggestion to look for the energy star label because this will make it easier to eliminate the units that I don’t want. Thanks for your other tips on how to buy a good air conditioning unit– it definitely helped me know what to look for so I can get the best AC unit for my home!

  • Reply
    McKayla Strauss
    15 July, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    At those prices, it makes sense that you’d want to invest in getting a very energy efficient unit. If I’m going to be spending thousands of dollars to get a new unit, I would want it to be one that would cost much less to use in the long run. A cheaper unit may be nice, but the bigger monthly energy bill would add up pretty fast.

  • Reply
    Veronica Marks
    17 September, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I’m glad you included getting the right sized unit. My parents had to replace their air conditioner recently, and they got what they thought was the right size, but it was too big. Every time it turned on, it rattled the vents and pipes so loudly it sounded like a jet engine taking off! Thanks for a great article!

  • Reply
    Jenn
    19 November, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I wish we would have asked a contractor what size/output was right for our home. Our vent system is surprisingly small, with few outlets, for a 1300 square foot home. We over-estimated how efficient a unit for our home would be, and sized up a little bit. That means that when the A/C is on, it blows really hard, and the vents have to be wide open or they howl. VERY loudly. It’s super annoying!

  • Reply
    Sarah Anderson
    2 March, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Getting a unit that is the right size is important. If it is incorrect it will be a waste of power and money. Overall, I am pretty sure that little ones are more expensive because they get ran so much they break more.

  • Reply
    Kayla Rogers
    10 March, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    As long as you’re making the investment in an air conditioning unit, you might as well choose an energy efficient model. Like you say, it can save money over the long run. Plus, it will make you feel less guilty about turning it on during the hot summer months!

  • Reply
    Kenneth Gladman
    15 March, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    You’re right that an air conditioning unit is quite an investment. I have been looking to cut costs on my utility bill in any way possible, it is just too high. I have a friend who recently purchased a heat pump and is very pleased with it. I will have to look into it. Thanks for the post.

  • Reply
    Brendan Bordin
    11 April, 2016 at 3:41 am

    Hey, great share….

    Although we all wish our air conditioners whispered as quiet as a G5 jet engine, we know that’s not always the case. I have a four-year-old Frigidaire 15,000 BTU window A/C. Shortly after I had it installed by technicians, it started making horrible sounds that is very annoying.

    We are now thinking of buying a new one so thanks for sharing these useful tips. It is definitely going to help me out.
    Cheers!!

  • Reply
    Hazel Owens
    17 May, 2016 at 10:55 am

    I like your advice to have your cooling load checked before installing a new air conditioning system. Like you said, there are a lot of reasons that the air conditioning power needed for your home may have changed. Getting a new read on the requirements can help you get the air conditioning unit that’s right for your house. Thanks for the article.

  • Reply
    Ben @ N/A
    23 July, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    If you have air conditioning system in your home, you can maintain your home or working place fresh and clean.

  • Reply
    Abélia
    1 August, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    It’s true that buying an air conditioner unit is a big decision and an intimidating prospect. I definitely have a budget to stick to, but I also want a quality unit that will last a long time. Is it possible to have both? Thanks for providing information on how to buy a new air conditioning unit!

  • Reply
    Gerard
    15 November, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Thank you for the great article. I really like this article it is very well written and covers a lot of the hidden traps were people can get caught out. With newer the newer units the technology has also change. So has the energy rating has improved. When getting your unit replaced also ensure the flexible duct work is check this can be another reason for wasted energy.
    Gerard recently posted…Panasonic Ducted Air Conditioning Promotion 2016My Profile

  • Reply
    Christina
    16 November, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Choosing an energy efficient model can be very important. You also need to go with the right size, as you share.

  • Reply
    Christina
    19 December, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    You make nice point about size and efficiency. You want to ensure the unit is designed specifically for your home, as you share.

  • Reply
    Brian
    21 December, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Great guide for anyone who is looking to get a new AC unit. Making sure you get the right size one is a must. It’s also important to make sure you are getting a good value as you will have this thing for a long time, so cheapest may not be the way to go.

  • Reply
    Wilson Smith
    29 December, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Hi Vinma,
    Great Post! Thanks for sharing. I am planning to buy a new air conditioning unit for our newly build home. Will consider all these and will hope to choose the best one as per your advice.

  • Reply
    Trenton
    18 January, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for sharing these tips. Buying a new AC unit can be really intimidating but its worth the research and money if you have a older unit. A new unit could save you a lot of money in the long run. I would also recommending that you check to make sure your home is well insulated.

  • Reply
    Aaron B. Stanley
    23 January, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Hey!!
    I found your post very interesting. The key points you mentioned here are awesome and can help to a great extent. But one thing more if we want a long, lasting result for making our home cool during summer and warm in winter then we can also look for the roof insulation. Roofing insulation while expensive can save on energy bills in the future. This can save our money and time as well
    Thank you for the great sharing.

  • Reply
    Ryan
    3 February, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Wow these are great advice for buying a new air conditioning unit! I recently had to replace my ac unit because it wasn’t the right size unit for our house, and we had to research for the right size for our square footage in our house and now the new unit works like a charm! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ryan
    3 April, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Wonderful tips! Air conditioners can use a lot of energy to run and so finding one that is energy efficient can make a big difference with the usage and help save money on your electric bill! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply
    Paul Halpin
    20 April, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Choose right AC for home is really tough. I know that because I repaired before. Anyways keep share your article with us.
    Paul Halpin recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  • Reply
    Heather
    3 May, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    There are so many factors that go into choosing the right unit, and you illustrated some of the key elements that affect which kind to install. I’ll have to say I’m surprised that even roof color plays a part! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    Rollston Scott
    8 May, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Hey,

    You have shared a great post.

    Central air conditioning cools your whole house by circulating air through ducts that are installed within your home. The hot air from your home is pulled through these ducts in order to be transformed into the cold air.

    Once the air is cold it is then pumped back down the ducts and cools your home. The duct system is based on a system of supply and return. Air continues to be circulated through the system in order to reach the desired temperature intended for your whole home.

    Your tips are really helpful for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Paul Halpin
    16 August, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Buying air conditioner is really tough because choose the right appliance for your home is like wining a battle.

  • Reply
    ceiling insulation
    17 September, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Adding home insulation to an existing home will also increase sound control. Insulation creates a sound barrier, keeping unwanted sounds out and protecting your privacy by keeping the sounds from inside your home from being audible outside. Insulating your home also creates a moisture barrier, keeping unwanted moisture out of your house.

  • Reply
    Steele Honda
    7 November, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I really liked your advice to choose an energy efficient model, and I definitely agree that if you go this route you will save more money because it will reduce your energy bill. I am looking for a new AC system for my office as we are literally dying there both in the hot summer and in the cold winter! I will suggest my supervisor look at the energy efficient models so that we could save some money and make out office a bit greener.

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