Good contractors will do a lot more than ask you how much you want to spend on a new system. When selecting the best air conditioning and heating system for your needs, contractors consider:
1. Where you live and what the climate is like. The contractor will determine how long the cooling and heating seasons are and if there are any other “regional” issues to deal with like excess humidity and air quality due to pollen or other airborne contaminants.
2. How important is comfort? The easiest thing a contractor can do is sell cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter. What they will try to find out is how comfortable you want to be. Comfort, as we will define it, is largely achieved when you don’t notice when your heating or cooling system is working. If you feel too hot at night, have cold or hot spots in the house, or wake up to a freezing home, you’re not comfortable. Higher efficiency systems are able to do things like moderate temperatures very precisely and remove indoor humidity which all contributes to a more comfortable house. If you aren’t asked about comfort, be sure to bring it up!
3. What are your electricity and gas costs? There are ways to heat or cool that involves either burning fossil fuels or using electricity. A contractor can explain which solution will be most efficient and be the best match for your desired level of comfort. This will save you money over the life of the system.
4. Are you more concerned with initial costs or total cost of ownership? High efficiency systems tend to have higher upfront purchase costs, but will usually save you significant money over the life of the system. Even though you may find rebates and incentives on websites like www.dsireusa.org, upfront costs might be too high for your budget. Your contractor will work with you to match the most efficient system to your budget.
The following chart helps illustrate how you and your contractor can decide which system is right for you. Tell us: before coming to this site did you think of air conditioning as just cold air, or did you consider comfort aspects like humidity and temperature variability?
Comparing Apples to Apples: Understanding Government Ratings
Comparing Options for Cooling Your Home