Most homeowners only have to make major home purchases like a roof, new flooring, or appliances a handful of times throughout their adult lives, depending on the properties they own, the amount of maintenance or upgrades required, and number of houses they buy. So if it has been 10-20 years since you last replaced an AC unit, or this is your first time swapping out this portion of your HVAC system, you might need a little help figuring out which models are likely to best suit your home. Considering that you’re looking at a price tag in the thousands, you want to make sure that the product you select is going to stand the test of time and deliver the cooling air you desire during the hot summer months. So here are just a few things you’ll want to keep in mind while shopping for a new AC unit.
- Cost. This is the main consideration for most homeowners when it comes to this type of major purchase, and the range of prices can vary by model, size, and features. However, you should expect to spend several thousand dollars for this system. You’ll just have to weigh the pros and cons of paying for extras that may save you money down the line, just for example.
- Warranty. You’d be hard pressed to find a new AC unit that doesn’t come with some kind of warranty, but what you may discover is that you can pay extra for additional warranty. However, you should make a point to read the fine print and see what is covered by any warranty that comes with the unit (from the manufacturer) or from the retailer (if different than the manufacturer). And don’t forget to ask if the warranty is transferrable so that you can pass it along to the next homeowner in the event that you sell the property before the warranty expires.
- Energy usage. Every AC unit should have information available on BTUs (British thermal units) either in the paperwork, or more likely, attached to the unit itself via a sticker, stamp, or plate of some sort. It will tell you how much energy your unit draws. From there you can figure out the approximate amount you’ll pay for air conditioning costs by dividing the BTU by the SEER rating (both should be listed) to calculate the kilowatts per hour, and then multiplying it by your hourly electric rate. From there you simply estimate the hours of usage in a month and you can get a rough estimate of your monthly expense. This formula can help you to figure out how much you’ll save by purchasing an energy-efficient model that requires lower BTUs to operate.
- Output. You want to make sure that the output of your AC unit is appropriate for your space, so it’s a good idea to ask what size of unit is rated for your amount of square footage. Imagine that you bought a water heater that couldn’t accommodate the size of your tub or number of people in your home. It’s the same basic idea where your AC unit is concerned.
- Extras. Modern technology has provided all kinds of alternatives to AC units of old. For example, you can now find units that offer eco-friendly amenities like a dual output system that allows you to use minimal air when you only want to cool the home 1-2 degrees, or offers additional boost (with extra energy usage) when you need to cool your interior by several degrees. And if you’re concerned about how a heat pump works in the summer you should know that there are also different types that may offer more or less efficiency and impact. In short, you have many options when you find you have to replace your outdated AC unit.