A buyer’s guide to home air conditioning systems

Few experiences provide as much relief as walking into a cool room on a hot summer day. Air conditioning systems make such experiences possible, and homeowners’ decision in regard to which one to install in their homes is significant.

Homeowners may not know where to begin in regard to finding the right air conditioning system for their home. According to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), the best systems provide steady, dependable performance for many years when sized correctly for the home. Correct installation and routine maintenance also can ensure homeowners’ air conditioning systems withstand the test of time.

How do I know which size is best? When shopping for new air conditioning systems, homeowners must consider a host of factors to ensure they get the best match. The AHRI notes that the home’s age, the number and quality of its windows, how well it’s insulated, the number of stories it has, and its square footage are among the factors to consider. Homeowners can benefit from working with trained technicians who can investigate each of these factors and recommend the correct system. The AHRI recommends homeowners ask their technicians to perform a Manual J analysis, which is a standardized formula that can help homeowners get the perfect system for their homes.

What about energy efficiency? Energy efficiency is an important consideration when purchasing a new air conditioner for a home. Energy rates vary depending on where a person lives, but rates remain pretty high across the board. The Energy Information Association notes that residential electricity rates increased throughout the United States by about 15 percent between 2009 and 2019. An energy-efficient unit can help homeowners save considerable amounts of money, so homeowners can ask their technicians to recommend energy-efficient units that suit their homes. A unit that adequately cools a home without consuming a lot of costly electricity should be every homeowner’s goal. The U.S. Department of Energy employs the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER, to inform consumers about the efficiency of each air conditioner. This rating is noted on the Energy Guide label on each unit, and the higher the number, the more efficient the unit.

Home air conditioning systems are costly. But the right choice of unit can keep homes cool without costing homeowners a fortune in energy costs.