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Cooling Equipment

Cooling Equipment

Central air conditioning and heat pump systems last, on average, about 16 years. Here's what you should know about purchasing a new one:

The install is #1. Even the best heating and cooling equipment won't perform without a quality installation. Hire a certified contractor who is going to address your ductwork and other home needs in addition to new equipment. A proper installation should cost more upfront, but it will save you in service costs and headaches down the road.

Go with R-410A refrigerant. Older air conditioners and heat pumps use a refrigerant called R-22. In 2010, the new standard refrigerant became R-410A - a more environmentally friendly refrigerant because it is non-ozone depleting. If you currently have an R-22 system, choosing a new one with R-410A may mean some extra costs to replace the line set and indoor coil. But with R-410A, you won't have to worry about a dwindling R-22 supply, and you will be getting the maximum long-term efficiency out of your new system.

Buy the highest SEER you can afford. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measurement of the efficiency of your cooling system over an entire season. The higher the SEER, the higher the efficiency. Before 2006, most cooling systems were rated 8 - 10 SEER. In 2006, the minimum efficiency became 13 SEER. Today, high-efficiency air conditioners from NuTone can reach efficiency levels as high as 20 SEER. A system up to 20 SEER is 100% more efficient than a 10-SEER system; a 16-SEER system is 60% more efficient than a 10-SEER system.

Heat pumps can save you more money. A heat pump works just like an air conditioner, cooling your home in the summer. But in the early spring and fall, it can also provide low-cost electric heat. Many homeowners choose a split-system heat pump instead of an air conditioner, and then pair that heat pump with a gas furnace. This is called a dual-fuel system, and it can significantly reduce your utility bills.

With dual fuel, you heat with electricity when the weather is mild and with gas when the temperatures get colder - so you are always using the most cost-effective fuel source to heat your home. If you have a packaged system (the entire system sits outside the home), there are also dual-fuel options that combine heat pump and gas heat technology.

Replace more than just the air conditioner. A split-system air conditioner has two components - the outdoor unit and the indoor section as described below. Some contractors may try to be the low bid by only replacing the outdoor section. But in order for your system to achieve the efficiency you're paying for, it needs to be matched with the correct indoor coil. Reusing previous indoor components can reduce the performance of your air conditioner (you'll only get 10 SEER when you're paying for a 13-SEER system) and can void the manufacturer's warranty.

Know what type of system you have. There are two types of heating and cooling systems. A "split system" includes an outdoor section and an indoor section, and is the most common type of HVAC system. In the central United States and Canada, the indoor section is the coil that sits on top of your furnace. (Many homeowners think this is part of the furnace when it is actually the indoor section to the air conditioner.) Cool air is distributed throughout the home by the furnace blower. In very hot southern regions, the indoor section is typically an electric furnace or an air handler. This product has the blower and coil inside one cabinet.

If you do not have an indoor section, you most likely have a "packaged" air conditioner, heat pump or gas/electric system. A packaged unit contains the blower and coil components all within the outdoor section and may even provide heat from natural gas or an electric strip. Packaged systems are not common and only found in select regions.

Budget for comfort. Many higher-efficiency air conditioning and heat pump systems include features that will improve your home's comfort. Two-stage systems reduce hot and cold spots by running at both a high and low stage, so they are quieter and provide a better mix of air throughout the home. Noise can be softened by swept-wing fan blades and compressor sound blankets. Variable-speed or modulating air conditioners will ramp up to full speed through several levels, providing the quietest performance and best mix of air.

To find a reputable NuTone dealer to service your system, visit our dealer locator.

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