If you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, you may be unsure about how to make the right choice. Keep the features listed below in mind to help you choose the most efficient and best HVAC system for your home or office.
Ductwork Type and Design
Improperly sized and imbalanced ductwork will cripple the most efficient HVAC equipment. Long runs of flexible ductwork are less likely to efficiently deliver the conditioned air. Opt for externally insulated round ducts for the most efficient HVAC operation.
It is unlikely that you will encounter new HVAC systems that use R-22 refrigerant. Federal law required it to be phased out by 2015. New systems use more environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant. If you encounter a system that uses R-22 refrigerant, run – do not walk – in the opposite direction. Any savings in price will be lost in the expensive servicing required. It will soon be completely phased out rendering an R-22 system worthless.
Avoid systems with balance dampers installed at the diffuser – such systems are noisy and inefficient. A skilled technician can install balance dampers away from the diffuser for quieter and more efficient operation.
Location (Residential only)
HVAC systems can be mounted either indoors or outdoors. Indoor systems mounted in a closet at floor level are easier to service and less likely to cause water damage. By contrast, attic mounted systems are prone to leak without a secondary condensate pan, exterior drain line, and other design precautions. Outdoor systems should not be located outside bedroom windows or underneath a roof without a gutter.
Efficiency levels for air conditioners are measured in Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) units. Since January 2006, the minimum allowable efficiency level for new air conditioner units has been set at 14-SEER units. Higher SEER unit ratings translate into more efficient operation and lower utility bills. An AC unit with a 20-SEER rating costs almost half as much to operate as an AC unit with a 14-SEER rating.
The life of an AC compressor can be extended significantly by installing a filter dryer. Filter dryers remove moisture and grit that can damage compressors.
Single metal coils and fins (aluminum or copper) last longer and operate more efficiently. Coils exposed to cottonwood trees or corrosive environments should be cleaned often and can be specially treated.
Properly operating AC units must have an equal amount of air coming into and leaving the room. One way to accomplish this is to install a supply air diffuser and return air grille in each room. However, installing transfer grilles or jump ducts sized at 300 to 400 fpm accomplishes the same goal for much lower expenses.
Changing air filters regularly is one of the easiest and least expensive means to ensure efficient AC operation and a comfortable environment. This is best achieved with a scheduled maintenance program.