Consumer Tips

Choosing a New AC Unit - Replacement Tips

When Should You Replace Your Home Cooling System? Know the Facts.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Has your AC unit not been replaced in more than 10-15 years?
  • Does your AC unit need constant repairs or parts replaced?
  • Are your electricity bills going up in the summer with the same amount or less ac usage?
If you own a heat pump or air conditioner that has not been replaced in more than 10-15 years, you should consider replacing the unit with a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner rather than continuing to only repair the unit. In the long run, this will save you money in repair costs and through the energy efficiency savings provided by the new unit. Installing an energy efficient unit will also help protect the environment, reduce electricity usage, and preserve our natural resources, but there are many factors to consider.

Cooling System Types
Many homes operate with a central air conditioning system, meaning that the portion of the unit providing the cooling is connected to a system of ducts that circulate air throughout the home. You have many factors to consider such as what cooling/heating source to use:
  • Heat Pumps offer electric cooling/heating and are a common choice of system in many Arizona homes.
  • Air Conditioners unlike heat pumps that transfer air in both directions to cool/heat your home, it pumps air in one direction; hot air is pumped outside of your home in the summer. It is possible to have an AC system with a gas pack where the heating portion is fueled by gas and the cooling portion is electrically powered. The heating portion is still commonly referred to as a furnace.
  • Geothermal converts ground heat into home cooling/heating through a geothermal heat pump. This is a highly energy efficient, renewable source of home cooling/heating and can be combined with solar heating to increase energy efficiency even more.
Unit Sizing
Determining the proper size of AC unit(s) for your home is an essential part of the selection process, both for the type of unit you want to purchase and the contractor you decide to hire for the installation. Contractors should calculate how much cooling your home needs by performing a load calculation based on Manual J, an industry accepted guideline for properly sizing a unit for your home. Installing a larger AC for your home than is needed can cause the unit to cycle on more frequently, collect excess condensation (moisture), and overwork the electrical components in the system, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the unit. Larger units are also noisier which may be noticeable in smaller spaces.

Split vs Packaged Units
A split system means that the indoor air handler portion of the unit is located separately from the evaporative coil and outdoor condenser. This is a common arrangement in many homes. A packaged unit is when the condenser and evaporative coil are together and typically located on the roof of a home and connect to the inside through ductwork.

SEER Rating
SEER is "Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio" – It is a measure of the efficiency of a heat pump or AC system over a typical summer season. The higher this rating is, the more energy efficient the unit is.

EER Rating
EER is "Energy Efficiency Ratio" – It is a measure of the efficiency of a heat pump or AC system during high temperature conditions. In Arizona's hot summers, EER is an important measure of efficiency during hot summer days. The higher this rating is, the more energy efficient the unit is.

HSPF Rating
HSPF is "Heating Season Performance Factor" - It measures how efficiently heat pumps will function while heating over an entire cold weather season.

Pricing and Models
Cooling system unit prices vary greatly based on a variety of factors including brand, size, and energy efficiency. Discuss with your AC contractor what options are best for your budget and needs. Manufacturers will occasionally offer rebates for certain units and additional rebates and tax credits may be available through your local utility or government organizations.

If you are thinking of installing a new ac system or having your existing ac system upgraded, call the Arizona Heat Pump Council at 602-248-7767 or 1-800-368-7767 for a free referral to a licensed, reputable contractor.