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What Goes into Selecting an AC?

There's no good way to get through the cooling season without a powerful, dedicated air conditioning unit, and in Texas, the cooling season may as well be the whole year. Whether you need an entire system for your newly constructed home or an energy-efficient upgrade for an aging system, getting a new air conditioner is a big investment. Here's what you need to take into account when selecting a new air conditioner.

Proper Sizing: Your Home's Cooling Load

When it comes to air conditioning, bigger isn't always better. One of the most common causes of air conditioning problems we encounter is over-sizing, which leads to constant cycling on and off, wasted power and uncomfortable temperature changes. Of course, things get even worse when your air conditioner is too small for your home, an issue that causes increased wear and tear on the system as it works hard to try to keep the house cool. Besides wearing down that much faster, an under-sized system won't be able to keep your home cool in the midst of a hot Texas summer.

The solution is to assess your home's cooling needs and pick out a system that's properly sized to meet those needs. That's why we recommend starting every installation project with a full load calculation. By taking into account square footage, insulation, layout and load-generating appliances, our technicians will determine exactly how much cooling power your home needs, then work with you to pick out a system that's sized to meet those needs.

Even if you're replacing an existing system, it's best to do a fresh load calculation. After all, the old system may have been improperly sized in the first place, or your home's cooling needs may have changed since your current unit was installed.

Payback Analysis

Once you know your home's cooling load, the next task is to choose between several air conditioning units to find the right one for your house. This is essentially an analysis of short-term versus long-term costs, or as we call it in the industry, a payback analysis. For instance, an air conditioner that costs $800 to install but projects to lower your monthly utility bills by an average of $40 will pay for itself in just 20 months. Since a well-maintained air conditioner will usually last eight to 10 years, this is a good long-term investment.

Many modern air conditioners also qualify for various state and local government incentives and utility company discounts. If you qualify for one of those benefits, it should be incorporated into your payback analysis at all. For instance, if that $800 air conditioner qualifies for a $200 tax credit, the effective cost of installation is only $600; thus, the system pays for itself in a mere 15 months.

High-efficiency systems tend to be great investments in the long term, but it's always up to the homeowner to weigh those future savings against the up-front cost of the system.

Choosing Your HVAC Contractor

Just as important as the selection of a new air conditioner is the selection of an HVAC company to install that air conditioner. Make sure to select a dealer that's licensed, bonded and insured. And, be sure the technician who installs your new system holds NATE certification, which is the HVAC industry's most highly regarded credential. NATE-certified contractors have been through a rigorous training process that demonstrates their ability to install, repair and maintain all makes and models of HVAC equipment. They're the best in the business, and they'll set up your new air conditioner to provide high-efficiency cooling for many years to come.

At Texas Air Comfort, we specialize in connecting homeowners with experienced, reliable HVAC companies all over the state of Texas. All of our HVAC companies have been carefully vetted to confirm that they'll provide top-quality service. You can count on us to help you find the right dealer to install your new air conditioner.

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