AC Unit Types, Sizes, And Their Energy Efficiencies

Home AC systems come in three primary varieties: conventional split-setup AC units, ductless systems, and packaged air conditioners. All three types share the same basic functionality to dehumidify air and lower temperature in our homes. These ACs need a condenser coil, evaporator coil, a refrigerant and compressor to basically pull humidity and heat out of the house while providing cool air to your personal spaces.

Irrespective of the system type that’s ideal for your house, sizing it right will offer the ideal results in performance, energy efficiency, and comfort. For most individuals, determining the right size would be best-taken care of by an expert HVAC contractor. Professional HVAC contractors would have expert knowledge and understanding of the various nuances in the system and can carry out cooling load computations required for correct AC system sizing.

However, comprehending the principles behind sizing the cooling system and its significance would help when contemplating a new setup for your house. For instance, as far as your home, AC’s size is concerned, bigger isn’t always better. Equipping your house with a bigger system with multiple cooling capacity tons not only utilizes more energy than required but the bigger size AC may even cycle off and on a bit too frequently without ridding the air of the humidity adequately enough, leaving behind a cool but damp feeling in the air.

On the other hand, an AC that is a bit too small for your household would have to work beyond its capabilities to cool your space, thereby consuming increased energy and still not doing its job correctly. An AC size that matches your space would offer optimal cooling and also not give you nightmares in the form of spiked up energy bills. Since there is no best or standard AC size and because the right size is imperative for proper energy consumption and solid comfort, it’s always recommended you get your property professionally assessed. Your local HVAC contractor will invariably account all the aspects involved and ascertain the correct AC size for your space.

How Do Air Conditioners Get Their Ratings?

Air conditioners are usually rated based on two major factors: energy efficiency and cooling capacity. When you want to know the correct AC size for your house, you should learn more about the AC’s cooling potential measured in tons or BTUh (British thermal units per hour). To compare different units’ energy efficiencies, you would typically check the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) numbers, which could be equated to your car’s miles per gallon (MPG) figures.

Cooling Capacity

An AC’s cooling capacity provides a solid measure to help ascertain whether a specific AC unit is the right fit for your home. The cooling capacity of an AC is expressed in tons (or tonnage) or BTUh. Both help you measure the cooling ability of your air conditioner over an hour’s period. A ton of cooling capacity can be equated to 12,000 BTUh. Residential ACs usually fall in the 1-5 to 5-ton or 18,000 to 60,000 BTU range. Anything with bigger cooling capacity will be termed as a ‘light commercial’ system.

Tonnage ratings are usually stated in 0.5-ton increments. In other words, residential ACs are typically rated as 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, etc. Kindly note that there is a significant difference between BTUh and BTU (British Thermal Units). BTU basically measures the total heat required to raise a pound of water by a degree Fahrenheit. BTUh denotes a measure of the amount of heat in BTUs an AC could remove from your house over an hour’s period.

SEER Rating

Air conditioners employ SEER ratings to denote their energy efficiency. SEER numbers are used to help buyers make well-informed decisions about the AC systems they select for their houses. SEER ratings, by definition, represent the entire expanse of cooling offered during the complete cooling season. Similar to a car’s MPG, a higher SEER rating attached to an AC system means increased energy efficiency.

Speaking of which, two AC units having identical cooling capacity may not have the same SEER ratings. For instance, when you see two different three-ton AC models, one could have a 13 SEER rating, and the other one could be a lot more efficient 18 SEER units. Units with higher efficiency numbers could receive a special ENERGY STAR certification. Energy Star is basically an energy program department that recognizes consumer goods for their ability to save energy. If an air conditioning unit is certified by Energy Star, its SEER rating would be higher, and it will use 8 percent less energy at least compared to conventional models.

Estimate the Correct AC Unit Size for Your Space

While you could use formulas to estimate the correct AC unit size for your house, the most accurate and easiest method is to work on it with an HVAC dealer. These dealers would measure your space precisely, weigh in all the factors needed to make the equation, and offer a correct assessment of the proper AC equipment size for your house.

AC Unit Size Computation

To ascertain the correct for your home’s HVAC system, your local dealer would perform ‘load calculation.’ This should help determine the cooling capacity amount needed to maintain the right temperature within your house. Your dealer would compile data, such as square footage, door and window area, climate, and insulation quality to find out the amount of cooling and heating capacity your system requires.

Additional Variables

There are multiple variables that should be considered when choosing air conditioning. Factors your HVAC dealer would usually take into consideration are:

• Total interior space square footage requiring cooling
• Approximate quantity of direct hot sun exposure
• Number of people living in the house
• Numbers and types of equipment or appliances that create heat
• Climate or weather conditions
• Total number and quality of exterior windows
• R-value and quality of insulation
• Construction types, such as vinyl siding or brick exterior
• Airflow assessment/interior ductwork
• Features contributing to cooling and heating gain or loss, such as skylights or fireplaces

The Benefits of Replacing Furnaces at the Right Time

The days are running and getting shorter as the cold weather is approaching in speed. We must prepare for another unenjoyable time of the year as the winter period sets in many areas of the country. As such, it is essential to prepare our furnaces adequately to get through the winter again. Winter preparations entail having the checklist for a furnace replacement or make reparations where necessary.

The furnace age

Usually, furnaces work effectively for 16 – 20 years after which they can be replaced. When they reach the periphery of their life, they start having maintenance issues. However, they can operate; their efficiency is lowered thus raises electricity and gas bills.

Just like the cars, the more they age, the more they require maintenance as they breakdown frequently. Therefore, when furnaces are more than 15 years, it is wise to shop for new ones to alleviate frequent breakdown expenses. Ideally, the reparation cost is 50 percent or more the price of a new furnace. Replacing the furnace, therefore, is the best insurance to evade such unprepared charges.

On the other hand, the furnace can be operating without maintenance costs realized, but register higher electricity and gas bills. Alternatives for lowering the bills are there to spoil you. First, you can opt to update the thermostat to a programmable one, clean and update vents and duct systems, shop an electric portable heater or fireplace, and finally, you can decide to buy more blankets in the house. HVAC is the reliable advisors in making the alternatives.

However, “16-20 years is the average lifespan of a furnace at times furnaces may last longer,” says one lead technician. Reliable furnaces last between 20-30 years. The recommended lifespan of a furnace is written at the owner’s manual, but also you can consider calling the manufacturer and issue him with the unit model number to let you know exactly.

Frequent reparations and raised energy and gas bills

Usually, old furnaces tend to work hard and long to provide the same amount of heat compared to new furnaces. The longer time spent translates higher energy bills and frequent repairs. However, a slight increase in costs and reparation is recommendable for old furnaces. When the energy bills rise tremendously shopping for new furnaces is advisable. As such, you will save more from the efficient unit at the expense of older units.

Variations in temperature in house rooms served by the same furnace

Worn out furnaces do not supply heat evenly to all rooms as expected. As such, some rooms can be realized to colder and other warmer than others. This is the general behavior of furnaces as their duct systems lack the capacity to distribute heat evenly to all rooms at the same time. While experiencing such issues do not hesitate to contact HVAC experts to solve the issues.

Presence of soot around the registers

When furnaces age they begin to spew out some dust, dirt and dust particles, which irritate for individuals who wish to, keep high levels of house cleanliness and can cause some health complications. When you spot dust, dirt, and rust on the furnaces, this is a sign of production of the poisonous gas carbon monoxide. The gas most cause general house dryness, affect the walls, furniture, and plants within the house. When houseplants undergo wilting and when experiencing dry eyes, itching throats, frequent headaches it is high time to undertake urgent furnace replacement.

When the furnace produces uncommon sounds and noise

When turning on and off, furnaces usually produce some noise; however, when the noise becomes progressively louder, replacement is the best insurance for such a furnace. Popping, banging, humming and screeching is the form in which the sounds come out. The sounds indicate urgent replacement of the furnace or a given furnace part.

A rattling sound indicates the presence of unsecured duct, loose screws and sheet metals. Again, rattling suggests that the blower motor is not correctly fitted and balanced. Popping sound comes out when given parts of the furnace cool and warm depending on the furnace temperature changes within the house.

The furnace produces typically humming sound however the sound should be friendly and not loud. When the humming sound becomes louder and disruptive; therefore the motor or blower has developed a fault or started to fail. On the other hand, screeching or squealing indicate the presence of an overall concern within the blower or motor. When such sounds are produced, the motor or blower has become loose, has a deteriorating belt or has a fault with the pulley that keeps the belt intact.

In conclusion, efficient furnaces keep the home health and add some comfort required by the family. Therefore, it is essential to learn and master all the possible signs that show when the furnace has developed some complications for urgent redress. Failure to carry out immediate measures will result in increased energy and gas bill, health complications and inadequate supply of heat required within the house especially during the winter period. Replacement of furnaces at the right time saves time, energy and money.

How To Choose The Right HVAC Contractor

Winter is here again, and most people would agree that it is the season where you may most need to contact an HVAC professional for maintenance and repairs on your heating system. Whether you need a large or small repair, or an entire HVAC replacement, a professional contractor can explain all your options. Below is a list of 10 factors to consider when hiring such an individual, as well as several things to avoid:

Choosing a Contractor by Word of Mouth

The best way to find an HVAC contractor to complete quality work in a friendly and professional manner, is to ask neighbors and friends for a word-of-mouth referral. You may also search for positive reviews online.

The Company’s Fleet

Contractors who drive old, dirty, unmarked vehicles are likely to treat your dwelling in a similar way. Additionally, such contractors may be desperate for business or in need of quick money. This may lead to future problems if a warrantee must be fulfilled or a substandard repair was completed. You are better off choosing a company that has well-maintained, clean, clearly designated company trucks.

Make Sure the Company Has a Physical Address

Even if a contractor operates from a home office, a physical address is a must. Moonlighters and fly-by-night’s who do not stick around to stand behind their work often operate from cell phones and provide no actual address. Go to the company’s website, and be wary if no physical address is shown. It is unwise to pay for work that may never be completed or find that there is no one to contact if future problems arise.

Hire Only Professional and Neat Company Employees

Businesses that are professional typically insist on clean, neat, workers who are willing to wear company uniforms. Fly-by-night operators are far more likely to show up in dirty T-shirts and jeans. The contractors at reliable and trustworthy HVAC companies are far more likely to arrive in a uniform with proper ID, as well as a professional attitude.

Employees Versus Subcontractors

Determining whether or not someone is an employee or subcontractor is extremely important. Washington Furnaces repairman who worked as subcontractors are usually always paid on a commission basis. It does not matter if it is a car mechanic, plumber, electrical contractor or other type of worker, commission based repairman are paid a commission based on the total amount of funds collected from the homeowner. This ultimately means that the more repairs the person completes, the larger his earnings will be. There is certainly nothing wrong with a contractor earning his or her money, but when the person earns a percentage of the entire job, it may encourage him or her to sell unnecessary repairs to unsuspecting customers.

Equipment the Brands

Manufacturers of well-known brands are selective about the employees they hire to sell and install various pieces of equipment. Always try to find a reliable company or contractor based on technical efficiency as well as customer service scores that are exceptionally high.

Guaranteed Prices

Top-notch contractors typically use what is referred to as flat rate pricing. This type of service pricing is more fair to customers because it guarantees that each person pays the same price for identical repairs. Therefore, clock watching is not necessary, because the customer is paying a specific amount for a particular job. For this reason, whether the technician works fast or slow, the bottom line price does not change. This is a much better alternative than the old-fashioned “time and materials” pricing method. Always ask for estimates that are preprinted in a pricing guide featuring regional standards.


Qualified, professional contractors who have complete confidence in their work usually provide the best warranties. More guarantees are typically provided and honored by HVAC companies that are the most reputable.

Making Sure the Contractor is Licensed

Licensing should be a minimum requirement when you are searching for contractor. Your HVAC system should never be worked on by an unlicensed individual. If no license is provided, this should be considered a red flag, as state law requires that a license number appear on all websites and any printed solicitations.

Only Hire Fully Insured Contractors

If an uninsured contractor sustains harm on your property, you may end up having to pay his or her medical bills. Contractors who are reputable will not hesitate to offer copies of their workers compensation insurance and general liability insurance. If the business uses subcontractors, you should request copies of their individual documents. Such information should be offered upon request.

Never Make a Decision Based on Price

Cheap contractors often cut corners, and this ends up being a costly situation for you as the homeowner. Therefore, although it is certainly recommended that you compare several estimates before making a final choice, never make a decision based on price alone.

Do Not Simply Choose From the Yellow Pages

If you open the Yellow Pages and make an instant selection, it is similar to throwing a dart. You may find a good contractor, but you may not. Additionally, companies that take out large spreads in the Yellow Pages typically have to recoup their money by visiting that cost on their customers. For this reason, you can increase your chances of locating a reputable business if you select from contractors who use modest size ads. However, the Yellow Pages should still be your last resort.

Avoid Companies With No Track Record

All companies must begin somewhere. However, new HVAC businesses tend to fail on a regular basis. In reality, one in five HVAC companies closes its doors or declares bankruptcy annually. For this reason, customers who have purchased extended labor warranties from such a business may have a difficult time if they need to utilize the warranty for any reason. The best indication that a business will survive long-term, at least long enough to honor any obligations regarding warranties, is its track record. HVAC companies that have sustained their business for a minimum of seven years are more apt to be stable, as they have had enough time to overcome business mistakes, risks and uncertainties.