Upgrading Your Cental Air System? Find Out How Powerful Of A Unit You Really Need
If your current central air conditioner is breaking down constantly or not blowing enough cool air to keep you comfortable in the warmer months, it's time to look into purchasing a replacement. An air conditioner is a major expense, so it's important to do ample research on the options available to you. The first choice you have to make is the most important: you have to determine how powerful of an air conditioning unit your home requires. This is based on several factors, such as the size of your home, your home's energy efficiency, ambient humidity levels and your desired level of cooling. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone; an air conditioning service professional will be happy to assist you in selecting the correct unit for your home.
Use Your Home's Square Footage As A Starting Point
Purchasing an air conditioning unit of the correct size and power is more of an art than a science. Central air conditioning systems are rated by their ability to produce cold air in terms of British Thermal Units, or BTUs; when you are looking at potential purchases, this number will be listed on the specification sheet. Generally, manufacturers recommend a capacity of 10,000 BTUs per hour per 350 square feet of area that needs cooling in your house.
It's also important to note that if you always keep registers closed in certain rooms of your house since you do not use them or they are not well-insulated, don't include those numbers in your calculations. Knowing this, you can measure the rooms of your house that need cooling and determine how powerful of an air conditioning unit to buy. You can also use the BTUs per hour rating of your previous air conditioner as a starting point. If it performed well cooling your home despite being older and less efficient, consider that to be the upper limit of your air conditioning needs.
Consider The Energy Efficiency Of Your Home
However, this is just a rough estimation, as there are many factors that come into play when determining how powerful of a air conditioning unit you need to cool your home. The most important factor is how well insulated your home is. The guideline of 10,000 BTUs per hour per 350 square feet is based on older homes that are nowhere near as energy efficient as modern ones. If you have upgraded to energy-efficient window frames, have installed spray foam insulation or otherwise have made your house more energy-efficient, your cooling needs will be substantially less than in a home that lacks these energy-efficient features.
Insulating your home prevents cool air from escaping and also prevents humidity from outside from coming in, both of which take some of the burden off of your air conditioning services and system. If you are planning to make your home more energy efficient in the near future, it is a good idea to purchase a less powerful air conditioning unit than you think you need currently.
Lean Towards Buying Less Air Conditioning Than You Need
Although it might be tempting to purchase an air conditioning unit that is more powerful than you actually require so that you are assured it will cool your home properly, this is actually a giant mistake. It will rapidly cool your home to your desired temperature and then shut off until needed again. Since an air conditioning unit uses the most energy when it first turns on, this constant cycling will cause your energy bill to skyrocket. In addition to that, the evaporator won't dehumidify the air when it is turned off, which causes the inside of your house to feel hotter than it really is. It's much better to buy a slightly undersized air conditioner from both a cooling and an energy usage standpoint.