Tips for Buying Your Next Air Conditioner

Central air conditioning systems can last from 15 to 20 years. Sticking with an older unit may seem less expensive, but not when it comes to utility bills. When time comes to buy a new air conditioning system, there are 3 things to remember.

First, is your new air conditioning system sized properly?

Sizing your air conditioner is based on both the latent cooling load, which is the humidity of the air, and the sensible cooling load, which is your home’s air temperature.

That’s why we start by measuring floors, ceilings, walls, and windows. We check insulation in the attic, walls, and crawl spaces. We also check for leaky, disconnected, or crushed ducts, or ducts that are too small for the system and constrict airflow. All this data is necessary to calculate proper sizing. A properly sized air conditioner can maintain a 20 degree difference between the outside and inside temperature of your home.

But, did you know that most of the cooling process is actually dehumidification? An improperly sized system might cool your home, but leave an uncomfortable, clammy feeling. That’s a breeding ground for allergens and mold. Oversized air conditioners cycle on and off too quickly, using more energy and preventing removal of humidity. Undersized systems, on the other hand, may not be able to reach comfortable temperatures on hot days. And since they have to work too hard, they run up higher electric bills.

Only a correctly sized unit will provide optimal performance, operating life, and energy efficiency.

Now, while AC size is important, so is the location of the condenser.

For optimal performance, the condenser unit should be located in a cool, shaded place, ideally on your home’s north side, out of direct sunlight. It also needs unimpeded airflow, with at least 4 feet of clearance at the top.

It’s also important that the inside coil is located for easy access, so it can be reached for annual cleanings.

Finally, don’t be tempted by the lowest bid.

Use printouts of the cooling load calculations for each air conditioner to directly compare the attributes of each unit. Also, be sure to check the Internet for reviews of each air conditioning company. In particular, keep a close eye out for reviews that include details of what the reviewer’s experience was like months or years after their air conditioner was installed.

Cutting corners on your air conditioner or the installer will cost you more in the long run. Improperly sized or installed air conditioners will run much more efficiently than indicated by their ratings, resulting in higher than necessary energy bills.

When you’re ready for a new air conditioner, call the experts at Gilmore. We offer free consultations, and have the experience and technical expertise necessary to identify and properly install the air conditioner that’s right for your home.

Modesto Apartment Fire Shows Risks of Window Air Conditioners

A few weeks ago, we posted a blog post discussing the danger posed by window-mounted air conditioners. In that article, we noted that one of the key causes of air conditioner fires is using extension cords to power window units. This is because extension cords are too high of a gauge—they are too thin—to handle the current necessary to power a window AC. When used to power an air conditioner, these cords will overheat, and can cause a fire.

 

Unfortunately, an apartment fire in Modesto last month illustrated the exact scenario described above. At nearly 5 am on July 28th, a fire was reported at an apartment complex that happened to be across the street from the Modesto Fire Department. Thanks to the Fire Department’s proximity, they were able to respond within minutes of the fire starting, and nobody was injured.

However, two units were seriously damaged, displacing nearly 20 people. The fire caused approximately $100,000 in damage, and there are concerns that the fire damaged wiring and plumbing serving other units in the complex, necessitating the shutdown of electricity, gas, and water.

Investigators at the scene determined that the residents of the unit where the fire started were using a window-mounted air conditioner powered by cord insufficient to meet the unit’s power demands.

Central air conditioners can help save lives and homes.

We understand that for many, window-mounted air conditioners are an attractive option. They are inexpensive, and easy to install in older homes and apartment complexes. However, the safety of a window unit is entirely dependent upon the owner’s or tenant’s ability and willingness to operate it in a safe manner.

While no air conditioning solution can be considered to be 100% safe, central air conditioning systems offer a significant safety advantage when a trained expert handles the wiring and installation of the system.

If you are a homeowner or apartment complex owner considering options for keeping your property cool during Central California’s hot summer season, Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing can help. Give us a call at 888-868-2316, or send us a message through our website’s contact form.

Our representatives will be happy to talk to you about your options, and help you identify the most efficient, cost effective, and safe way to keep your property cool and comfortable.