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|HVAC & Water
> Air Conditioning
Energy & Capacity
Services & Costs
|The subject of air conditioning (AC) is as important as it is complicated. The human body is not designed to withstand temperatures outside of a fairly narrow range. Exposure to heat outside of this range can lead to a spectrum of negative consequences, running the gamut from discomfort and minor annoyance to serious health problems. Consequently, maintaining proper temperature inside the home is of vital importance to the on-going quality of life for all residents.|
many consumers, air conditioning is a topic filed away under the
category of “let the experts deal with it”. Just as most people do not
worry about their cars until they break down, so do most people not
concern themselves with their home air conditioning systems until there
is a problem. Unfortunately, this hands-off approach can lead to
inefficient cooling, unnecessary utility bill expenditures, and an ever
burgeoning set of problems down the line.
The goal of this section of our site is not to turn you into a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional with full knowledge of how to install and repair residential cooling systems. That would require a far more detailed discussion in the context of an intensive course of study coupled with hands-on experience. Rather, the purpose is to equip you with a general understanding of the different options that are available when it comes to home air conditioning, including the costs, benefits, and drawbacks of each.
There is no specialized knowledge necessary to understand the topics discussed on this site. On the contrary, it is intended to be accessible to anyone, even if there is no prior exposure to the subject of cooling systems generally, or residential air conditioning specifically. With that in mind, let's get to the information. This portion of the site deals with air conditioning, at times a complex topic which we have subdivided into several categories. Each category is accessible from the navigation menu at the top left of this screen. Furthermore, each category is self-contained and deals with an important set of issues relating to a products. Please read on for an overview of each category.
The "Central Systems" section describes the large air conditioning units and accompanying ductwork networks which are utilized to cool the entire home. These are the most complex and expensive residential systems and they are usually categorized as either "packaged" or "split". We explain each system type, overview the general set of principles by which the cooling of the air is accomplished, and delve into the ways in which this technology can integrate with your existing heating system. This section is most useful if you are either trying to select a central AC system for a new home that you are building or looking to replace the old AC system in your home and are at the early part of that process, seeking to understand the different kinds of air conditioning systems that are available.
The "Portable Units" section deals with room air conditioners, which are distinct from central AC systems in that they are used to cool an individual room rather than an entire home. Window air conditioners, through-the-wall air conditioners, and portable air conditioners are all examples of transportable units which can provide effective cooling for a single enclosed space. Utilizing multiple portable units can lead to the same effect as a central system, but with typically far less efficiency and convenience. This section will be helpful if you are looking to either cool a smaller interior, such as a studio apartment, to extend a central AC system into an outlying area, or to increase the level of cooling for an individual room relative to the others.
The "Leading Brands" section provides background on the air conditioning industry generally and individual manufacturers specifically. Central air conditioning systems and portable air conditioners are manufactured by two distinct sets of companies and each set features its own pecking order with respect to product quality, reliability, and power. By knowing the market leaders, you will be able to more effectively zero in on the optimal product choices for you unique needs. This section can be viewed as a scorecard that will assist you in the course of selecting either a central AC system or a portable air conditioner for your home or office.
The "Energy & Capacity" section delves into the full range of energy options for powering AC units, explores the important topic of energy efficiency, introduces the government's ENERGY STAR program, and explains the calculation of the SEER and EER metrics. In addition, we provide a guide for sizing air conditioning units, showing you how to estimate the BTU requirements for a particularly sized space in a given geographical area. This section is particularly useful if you are considering whether to replace an old cooling system and would like to better understand the concrete benefits of new, more energy-efficient units. It is also helpful if you would like to ensure that the new AC unit that you are purchasing is appropriately sized for your needs.
The "Services & Costs" section comprises information regarding professional services and typical price points associated with different air conditioning systems and portable units. We address the question of how to go about selecting quality contractors, particularly for the installation and repair of central systems. With respect to costs, although specific prices will vary by region, by service provider, by system type, and by brand, they will still generally fall within a certain range. Having an idea of this range can help to plan ahead, as well as to identify price estimates or quotes that are questionable. Last, but not least, we provide a list of purchase options and rate them in terms of quality, convenience, and price. This section provides a useful set of resources if you have made the decision to purchase a new AC system and are now ready to begin the shopping process.