Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems often consume the largest portion of household energy use and, therefore, can leave a dent on monthly budgets. One way to shrink these bills would be to replace your aging HVAC system with a newer, more energy efficient unit. Before you begin the process of deciding on which new unit to get, here are a few things to consider.
Hire an experienced, properly credentialed contractor.
Referrals from friends and family members are a good place to start; however, local home improvement referral sites such as Angie’s List, Homeadvisor and Thumbtack can also provide valuable leads. You can also find a qualified contractor through the Air Conditioning Contractor Association of America (ACCA) or the National Association of Technical Excellence (NATE).
Questions to ask:
- Is the contractor licensed, bonded and insured?
- Will the contractor provide you with a detailed bid, including a scope of work?
- Will the manufacturer and contractor provide any warranties on the equipment and/or labor?
- Will the contractor provide follow-up maintenance on the new equipment?
- Will the contractor provide references?
- Does the contractor hold any advanced certifications?
The North American Technician Excellence or NATE certification is nationally recognized and validates a technician’s knowledge in air conditioning, air distribution and gas furnaces.
The HVAC Excellence Certification can be issued for a professional-level specialist or a master-level specialist. Each level is awarded based on field experience and comprehensive exams about functioning and installation.
The EPA 608 certification is issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and is required for a contractor to handle the refrigerants used in the HVAC system.
Don’t hesitate to seek several bids
During the bid process, the contractor should thoroughly inspect the space, the ductwork, airflow, etc. and be open to answering questions. It is also recommended that you reach out to the references provided by the contractor. It is vital for the consumer to properly and thoroughly vet the contractor to guarantee proper and professional installation of the system.
Know your HVAC system terminology
Two key factors used in determining the proper sizing of a unit are “tonnage” and “SEER.” When a contractor refers to tonnage, he or she is referring to the amount of heat (measured British Thermal Units, or BTUs) that the air-conditioning unit can remove from a space in one hour. It takes one ton of air conditioning to remove 12,000 BTUs of air per hour, two tons of air conditioning to remove 24,000 BTUs of air per hour and so on. The proper SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is also important to keep the air conditioning running efficiently. SEER is the cooling output of an air conditioner during a cooling season divided by the Watt-Hour energy it uses. The U.S. Department of Energy regulates the minimum standard SEER for air conditioners depending on geographical location that ranges from 13 to 21. A higher SEER rating provides greater energy efficiency.
Talk about size
A well-qualified contractor will also determine if the size of the system is enough to heat and cool the home efficiently. The consumer should not assume that the new system will be the same size as the existing unit. Factors such as location, insulation, square footage, air flow, and more will determine the size of the air conditioner. If the air conditioner is too big, it will cycle on and off rapidly. This will cool the space quickly but will undermine the energy-efficient design. If the air conditioner is too small, it will not be able to cool the entire space and will run constantly. If the air conditioner is properly sized, however, it will cycle on and off at energy-efficient intervals that will keep the space comfortable.
A Hammock’s HVAC system professional can discuss all of these factors with you as you learn about HVAC. Call us today to find out more about Hammock’s HVAC, and talk about how we can save you money by upgrading your HVAC system!