Your New Air Conditioner: Looking Beyond the SEER Ratings

new air conditioner, Long Island, New YorkIf you’re looking for a new air conditioner, there are many factors to consider.

First and foremost is the efficiency of the unit. This is usually described by the SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. This number puts an overall value on how well a new air conditioner works. A higher SEER means greater efficiency and lower energy costs.

SEER is a key determinant of a new air conditioner’s cost. Often times, the manufacturer influences SEER by using the best equipment in a new unit. Newer technology in an air conditioner influences the efficiency, thus raising the SEER. However, how the new air conditioner is installed in the home has a big influence over the SEER. During installation, there are four field adjustments that affect SEER performance in a home.

  • Airflow – Without optimal airflow, the evaporator won’t work properly, causing low performance. Narrow air ducts, restrictive air duct layouts, restrictive grilles and a mismatch of the air handler with the other equipment reduce airflow and lower efficiency.
  • Charge – Studies show that about 70 percent of all air conditioner systems have improper charge. Making sure the refrigerant charge is correct is a huge field adjustment factor. Most systems are undercharged, but some systems are over charged by a large amount. An HVAC technician can determine this and make the necessary adjustments.
  • Ductwork – Leaks in air ducts directly mess up the entire system’s capacity by bringing unfiltered air into the home from a crawl space or attic. A system can lose up to 35 percent of its capacity from thermal losses and duct leakage.
  • Size – Oversizing the units isn’t worth it, even if it keeps people cool when there’s a large conditioning demand. For most of the year, however, an oversized unit won’t run at full efficiency. Oversized units run for shorter periods of time and struggle to reach their most efficient cruising speed. It’s wasted energy.

For more information on what to look for when shopping for a new air conditioner, contact the pros at T.F. O’Brien Cooling & Heating. We proudly serve homeowners throughout Long Island.

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