Air conditioning is a must for any home in Salem and the surrounding areas of Oregon. If your cooling system is ready to be replaced, you may have a lot of questions. With so many advancements in HVAC systems in recent years, you will find an almost endless selection. Trying to choose the right AC for your home can feel overwhelming. Before you give up and choose the one that best fits your budget, read these tips from Woodward Heating. Once you have a bit of insight, give us a call, and we will help you purchase the ideal AC unit.
1. British Thermal Units
As you look for a new AC system for your home, you will find that each unit is sized in British Thermal Units (BTUs). This describes the cooling capacity of the unit. A typical window air conditioner is rated between 5,000 and 12,500 BTUs, and a central air conditioner 18,000 to 60,000 BTUs. You may also see larger AC units rated in tons. The average for home central air conditioners is between 1.5 and five tons.
2. SEER Ratings
Another rating that you will see on new central air conditioners for homes in Salem is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). This represents the amount of energy needed to produce a certain amount of cooling. SEER ratings are relatively new and were introduced to promote environmentally friendly practices among HVAC manufacturers. Higher SEER ratings indicate that a unit is more energy efficient compared to a similarly sized unit with a lower SEER rating. Therefore, you can expect a high SEER AC unit to provide a greater cooling ability at lower energy costs. If you’re working with a budget, you need to find an air conditioning system that balances up-front costs with long-term savings on your utility bill. SEER ratings are not a guarantee. If we have an unseasonably warm summer, for example, you may not see the same energy savings as during normal summer temperatures.
3. Square Footage
Before you can determine how many BTUs are needed for your new cooling system, you should know the square footage of your home. You may need to take some measurements, because the entire square footage may include unusable space or areas, such as closets, where cooling is not needed. A good starting point is to calculate 20 BTUs for every square foot. You then need to adjust for the individual areas of your home. In other words, if you have a single room, such as a combined living, dining, and kitchen, you can get by with less than 20 BTUs per square foot. For smaller areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, you will need more than 20 BTUs per square foot.
Once you have a baseline for the number of BTUs, you will also need to factor in the number of windows in your home. The glass allows for a heat exchange that makes some rooms warmer than others during the summer when there is no direct sunlight. If you have a lot of windows or large windows, you will need to increase the number of BTUs for your new AC system.
Natural light is a wonderful resource for giving your home a cozy, bright feeling, but it also affects how well your cooling system keeps you comfortable during the summer. Rooms with direct sunlight will have a higher ambient temperature and require more output from your AC system. Rooms with indirect light are typically comfortable with just the baseline number of BTUs. If you have rooms that receive little to no sunlight, you may be able to get by with fewer BTUs.
Is your home well-insulated, or do you have an older home with adequate insulation? Do you have cracks or small openings around your doors and windows? Are your attic and basement insulated? Salem homes with poor insulation will need more BTUs for cooling in the summer, while homes with good insulation prevent warm air from coming inside and can stay comfortable with lower BTUs.
7. Appliances and Electronics
Do you love to cook? Do you have computers, stereos, and other electronics in almost every room? The appliances and electronics that you use everyday release heat into the air of your home. During the winter, this may help to keep you comfortable. In the summer, though, your AC system will need to compensate for the additional heat. Consider these factors when buying a new cooling system for your home.
8. Family Members
People not only generate heat, but also use hot water heaters, dishwaters, stoves, computers, and other appliances that warm the indoor air. The number of people living in your Salem home matters when you’re buying a new AC system. You should also consider your lifestyle and daily habits. If you don’t cook a lot, you may be able to ignore the effects of using your stove and oven. If you have children, consider how much time they spend on their computers and devices.
One of the ways that we recommend addressing issues such as unused spaces, varying sunlight, and family needs is with a zoning system. It works by controlling airflow from your AC system. We install louvers inside the ducts as well as several thermostats. When the temperature in one part of your home is higher than the thermostat setting, the zoning system closes off the louvers to other areas, and the cool air flow goes only where it is needed. This is a much more cost-effective and energy-conscious way to correct uneven temperatures than closing vents. You should always keep the vents open to prevent damage to your ducts and HVAC equipment. You can even use a zoning system for areas that have more electronics or appliances.
10. Additions and Remodeling
If your home has an addition or has been remodeled, the current system may be too small. You may also need ductwork added to the existing ducts. If you aren’t sure if you have ductwork going into every area of your home, give us a call, and we will schedule a time for one of our technicians to come by for an inspection.
Need Help Finding the Best Size AC?
Sizing an air conditioning system for any Salem home is a mixture of science and art. If you have reviewed our tips and still feel uncertain, call Woodward Heating for some help. We can schedule a time for one of our expert technicians to come by and recommend the best AC unit, or we can provide some additional guidance. We want you to feel confident that your new cooling system will keep your family comfortable for many years to come. Our experts work within your budget so that you see a return on your investment as quickly as possible.
Home Cooling Experts
Since 1989, Woodward Heating has provided exceptional service to homeowners in Salem and the surrounding areas of Oregon. If you need help with your heating and air conditioning systems, we are here! We offer installation, repairs, and maintenance. Be sure to ask about our services for fireplaces, indoor air quality, and gas piping. We look forward to serving all of your home climate comfort needs.