Keep this in mind
When shopping around, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Comfort level (do you like it extremely cold or are you comfortable with thermostat settings of 79 to 80 degrees)
When looking at the efficiency of a unit, a customer is looking at its SEER rating or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Chapin said that the higher the SEER rating is, the more energy efficient it is. The lower the number, the more energy the unit will use and the higher the utility bill will be. The minimum SEER customers can put in their home is a 13 and the highest SEER of most manufacturers is 20.
In Chapin's opinion, "snowbirds are the 13 SEER customers and people who are here year-round are the 20." Since many part-time residents are only in Florida for a few to six months per year, and don't run their units to the extent that full-time residents do, Chapin said a lower SEER unit is much more logical. "It's hard to justify them purchasing a higher SEER unit," he said. On the other hand, a full-time resident will run their air conditioner approximately 3,000 hours per year. Chapin suggests they look into high SEER equipment.
By purchasing a unit with a higher SEER, customers are looking at lower utility bills and comfort within the home. "Every time you step up one point in SEER rating," Chapin said, "you realize a 9 percent annual savings in air conditioning costs."
He said when meeting with customers, he not only looks at their equipment, but also communicates with them - asking questions such as "at what temperature do they keep their thermostat set?" - in order to come up with what SEER of equipment is best suited for them.
"The first thing I tell them is, 'I'm going to say things to you that you might not understand, so I want you to stop me and ask me questions whenever you are confused or don't understand something,'" Chapin said, adding that a customer should do the same with any contractor who visits their home. "They should understand what they're buying and not just going with what contractors suggest. Don't assume that what a contractor says is your best option, ask questions at the time of purchasing."
Parts of the home
At that time, customers should also let their contractor know if they are having any problems cooling particular parts of the home. Customers also can do their homework ahead of time by looking up all of the main brands of air conditioners through Google.com. There, they can find warranty information, which is important to keep in mind when shopping, as well as the percentages of failure rates for various components on the units. From there, shoppers will be directed to specific sites of manufacturers they favor.