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Learn about the difference between EER and SEER in this info video

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Repair vs. Replace... Why Do You Need a New Unit?
When your cooling system breaks down, you are often faced with the choice of repairing your existing unit by having one or more of the components replaced or by puchasing a new air conditioner. Many air conditioning companies push clients to purchase new units because there is a higher profit margin in replacing existing equipment than there is in repairing it.

Eugene Adams, Inc. Heating and Air Conditioning focuses on educating its customers so that they themselves can make an informed decision regarding the replacement or the repair of an existing air conditioner. Often there is no absolute right or wrong answer. Repairs on an existing unit may be the least expensive immediate option, but may cost the costumer more in the long run. Paying for repairs on an older, inefficient system simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again. A unit manufactured more than 10 years ago could use up to twice the the energy of a new model. The average home air conditioning system has a life expectancy of 10-15 years, depending on how often it's used and how well it's maintained. In fact, installing a new, energy efficient system can pay for itself as little as two years and new units also use a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant than older models. However, there are times when simple repairs can sufficiently prolong the life of an air conditioner so that immediate replacement of the unit is not the most sensible option.

Sometimes environmental laws determine the course of action a technician must take when faced with malfunctioning equipment. For example, many consumers ask contractors to repeatedly recharge air conditioning systems which are leaking refrigerant. If a comfort cooling system is releasing more than fifteen percent of its charge voer the course of a year, the EPA requires the system to be repeaired (through a leak detection and repair process) rather than repeatedly recharged. If the evaporator coil has numerous leaks or is severely corroded, a reputable contractor will advise the consumer to replace the unit.

Selecting a unit
It's a purchase you make perhaps once in ten years. You are concerned about efficiency and comfort. But how do you know which brand and model to choose. Understanding the standard ratings applied to air conditioners can help.

Efficiency ratings
In general, the more efficient the unit, the more it will cost initially. However, the more efficient, more expensive unit will actually save you money over time as it requires less fuel to cool your home. If you concerned about efficiency, watch for the Energy Star Label.

Cooling efficiency for air conditioners is indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratng). The SEER rating tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity: the higher the number, the greater the efficiency. The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. In 1992, the government established a minimum cooling efficiency standard for units installed in new homes at 10.0 SEER. High efficiency units have a rating of at least 12.0 SEER.

Sound ratings
Depending on the location of your outdoor (condensing) unit and the floorplan of your home, a noisy unit may destroy the peace and quiet of your garden and may even be a sound nuisance when you are indoors. The sound level of outdoor units is measured in bels (similar to decibels), on a scale from 0 (barely perceptible) to 12 (the loudest). Most air conditioners operate at 8 to 9 bels. The quietest units operate at 6.8 bels. This may not sound like a wide range, until you learn that a 9-bel unit is 10 times louder than an 8-bel unit. In other words, one 9-bel unit makes as much noise as 10 8-bel units put together.

Comfort features
Some air contitioners come with additional features that provide greater comfrort. Two-speed units can run on low-speed (using about 50% of the energy) 80% of the time. Consequently, they use fewer on/off cycles and produce fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings.

Select the correct size
In order to achieve comfortable cooling and dehumidification, the system must be correctly sized. The size of central air conditioning is measured in tons. (1 ton = 12,000 BTU/hr).

As a general rule of thumb, you need one ton of cooling for each 500 square feet of living space. This ratio assumes that the space you are cooling has standard 8 foot ceilings, that windows make up less than twenty percent of southern facing walls, that your windows have drapes or blinds and that you close them during the heat of the day, and that your walls and attic are insulated.

Note that when it comes to air conditioning equipment, bigger is not always bettter. An oversized unit will lower the temperature too quickly and will shut off before it has an opportunity to properly dehumidify the air being conditioned. Excessive humidity can create an environment which facilitates the growth of mold.