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Air Conditioner Buying Tips for Ontario Homeowners

Nowadays, most homes have central air conditioning, which is a necessity during the peak Canadian summer months when temperatures can soar to up to 33 degrees Celsius with extreme humidity. The cost of a new air conditioner unit can range from $2600 to $6000, including installation, depending on your home’s requirements and other considerations. While this might be a major investment initially, it is one that is necessary for your home comfort and well-being. If you’re looking to purchase a new air conditioner, there are several aspects to consider prior to doing so. Following are some helpful air conditioner buying tips:

  1. Ensure that you hire a skilled HVAC contractor who is knowledgeable and experienced with installing residential air conditioning units. Get at least three estimates from qualified contractors before deciding on the A/C unit and installer. While cost is important, don’t choose only based on price-point. Find out how long the HVAC company has been in business, what its reputation is, and whether the brands it installs are reliable and of high quality. A good place to start is by researching the HVAC company/contractor online at your local Better Business Bureau or by reading brand reliability surveys conducted by organizations like ‘Consumer Reports’.
  • A more efficient air conditioner will take less energy to run and cool the entire house.  Air conditioner units use hydro (electricity) to operate. In Ontario, we use our central air conditioners on average for approx. 3-4 months a year. Today’s air conditioning units offer SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) levels beginning at 13 SEER. A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating. A 13 SEER air conditioner is considered high efficiency and more than adequate for usage during our Canadian summer months. These high efficiency air conditioners assist homeowners in reducing energy costs significantly. Note that it is important that the efficiency rating is indicated on the air conditioner plate.
  • A qualified HVAC contractor will help you determine the appropriate tonnage of the A/C unit required in your home based on the size of your home and other specifications. This is an important step because units that are too small will have to work harder to cool the home, while over-sized units will not only be a waste of money, but could also cause an uncomfortable experience with cooling distribution and the irregular operation of the unit switching on/off.
  • Before going ahead with an installation, get an estimate which includes the total cost of purchasing the A/C unit, including installation. Sign a detailed contract which includes the brand, model number, size and any warranties for the A/C unit you’re purchasing and having installed in your home. Make sure all the costs are clearly indicated on your contract in advance. Your contract should also include your HVAC contractor’s payment policy.

All The HVAC Advice You Need To Know To Save Money This Summer

Residential HVAC is something that many people want to understand, but often they believe it’s too difficult to tackle. That isn’t true, though. The following article offers great suggestions for you to follow to help make this easier while saving you money.

If you suspect a problem with your HVAC system, specifically your air conditioning unit, do a quick check around the house before contacting your HVAC contractor to book an in-home diagnostic service or repair.

Here are some of the things you can check:

  • Figure out which rooms, if any, have cooling and which don’t.
  • See if the batteries in your thermostat require replacing. Generally, they should be replaced once a year.
  • Determine whether you recently had a new WiFi thermostat installed.
  • Check if the furnace filter is dirty and requires replacing. If yes, turn off your A/C and replace the filter immediately. Usually, if this is left too long then you’ll also find ice build-up on your coil/condenser which can cause damage to your furnace and air conditioning unit. If this is the case, shut off your A/C completely for 24 hours and schedule a service with your contractor.
  • Check if the A/C fan is running.

Sometimes, it’s an easy adjustment that your contractor can help you resolve over the phone. Other times your issue will require a service diagnostic. The more information (such as the above) that you can provide to your contractor in advance, the quicker the cause of the issue could be determined, making it easier to get your air conditioner back up and running properly while saving time – which can save you money.

Before the summer arrives, try to prevent debris from getting into your air conditioning unit. Remove any debris and clean out the A/C fan grill at least twice a year – in the spring before A/C start-up and in the autumn when you begin winterizing your home. To work properly and efficiently, the A/C fan and compressor must be unobstructed. Anything blocking your fan’s operation could cause your A/C system to break down.

If you want things to be more efficient and your current AC is over 15 years old, getting a newer AC unit installed will save you money now and for the long run. Today’s air conditioners are much more efficient, saving you money on your electrical bill.

To keep the HVAC systems running smoothly, be sure you have your air conditioner and furnace checked and maintained at least once per year. Ideally, you should have them looked at in the spring and fall so you know everything is set for the hot and cold months. Even if it appears that there are no issues with the HVAC equipment, there could still be a problem or potential problem that can be averted with regular maintenance.

Another way to support the HVAC systems in your home is through home improvement projects that increase overall efficiency, such as replacing old single pane windows with double pane ones, or adding better insulation in your attic/walls. This will allow your air conditioning unit to be run much less during the summer, because the cool air is kept and circulated inside the home. When it’s cold in the winter months, these same windows will keep the warm air inside as well.

You can also save further money (around ten percent on your heating and cooling costs) by installing a programmable thermostat.

It’s best to control the inside temperature in your home and not allow it to reach a dangerously hot level. Keep in mind that air conditioners can only cool a home down about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, often within an 8-12 hour window. For example, assuming the temperature in your home rises to ninety degrees, you will only be able to reduce that by twenty degrees in a reasonable amount of time. This won’t be a comfortable or healthy environment to live in.

Working with HVAC isn’t too hard if you’re able to work with it and get into it by using the advice you were given above. Keep these tips in mind when you start.

Begin now to get ahead of the summer!