In this day and age, and especially if you live in a hot, humid climate, central air conditioning systems are considered indispensable. And, as a matter of fact, more people now have this type of home cooling system than any other. In addition to cooling the air in our homes, central air conditioners remove the humidity from it as well as filtering it and cleaning it.
Central air conditioning systems are used to cool the entire house, not just a single room like a window unit does. Most professionals agree that a central system is much more efficient and less costly in cooling a house than individual window unites. Central AC systems use the same ductwork throughout the home to cool it as is used to heat it. The system is just reversed in winter when temperatures drop to produce heat through the use of a heat pump or forced air
Bigger is Not Always Better
Companies that manufacture central air conditioning systems build them in varying sizes or capacities. These different sizes are commonly denoted in tons or British Thermal Units (BTUs). A British Thermal Unit measures the output of heat. A BTU translates into how much energy is needed to increase a pound of water by one degree (Fahrenheit). One ton means that twelve thousand BTUs equates to how much energy is needed to melt a ton of ice in a 24-hour period of time.
People almost always think that buying bigger central air conditioning systems means a cooler, more energy-efficient home. This is not true in most cases. Factors involving a number of things must be taken into consideration before deciding on the size unit to have installed. For instance, airflow in, out, and between all the rooms of the house must be evaluated.
How people living there use the house, how well the home is insulated, and the prevailing climate in an area are also important considerations when selecting the size of a central AC unit. Installing a system that is undersized won’t be able to handle load requirements on days that are unusually hot. Systems too large for a home will keep cycling off and on and, as a consequence, won’t do a good job of taking humidity out of the air, making the environment sticky and uncomfortable.
Leave It to the Pros
The moral of the story: When selecting central air conditioning systems, don’t rely on your own good judgment or that of friends. This is a job best suited for a certified heating and air conditioning contractor. Of course, a professional will want to discuss your needs with you and possibly even ask to observe how your family makes use of the house to help make his or her determination. And, like most other jobs you contract out, get several opinions. Get references, too, and follow up by actually calling them.
Central air conditioning systems cost a lot, so be careful when making your contractor selections. Ideally, you won’t be needing a system in the heat of summertime and can take your time. Otherwise, you’ll want to get the system underway as soon as possible. But don’t get in too much of a hurry. Take the time for an informed decision. And when you get your new system, you will breathe a sigh of relief, and of feeling cool once again!