Murphy’s Law is an adage that means, “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.” In terms of air conditioning, it would be at the peak of Florida’s summer heat that the central air conditioner would fail as a result of age, lack of regular maintenance, lightning strikes, flooding, or hurricane-force winds.
Even if it is not an act of nature that crashes a central air conditioner, all appliances have a lifespan, so it is inevitable that replacing them will become a necessity, at some point. Air conditioner replacement is no different, but it is a major investment Tampa Bay homeowners must make to maintain a cool, comfortable residence in the midst of a hot, humid, tropical climate.
The lifespan of a Central Air Conditioner
The US Department of Energy estimates the life expectancy of a central air conditioning unit as 15-20 years. Of course, this will depend upon how well the unit was installed, how often the system undergoes routine, professional air conditioning maintenance; its exposure to severe weather; and a variety of other factors.
If your air conditioner unit is older and has exceeded this estimated lifespan, it would be wise to replace or upgrade it with a more energy-efficient model that has a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), to maximize your savings. The SEER is a measurement of the relative amount of energy required to reach a specific cooling level.
The DOE suggests, “If you have an older central air conditioner, you might choose to replace the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. If you do so, consult a local…cooling contractor to assure that the new compressor is properly matched to the indoor unit. However, considering recent changes in refrigerants and air conditioning designs, it might be wiser to replace the entire system.”
Energy Star Efficiency Rating
The big yellow stickers that are found on many appliances, including air conditioning systems, generally include projected energy use and often are indicative of an Energy Star® rating. This important tag serves to confirm that the unit meets stringent energy efficiency guidelines as set forth by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Energy Star® certified central air conditioners have higher SEER and energy efficiency ratio (EER) ratings and use eight percent less energy than conventional new models,” the Energy Star website states.
Even if your air handler seems to be operating well, the DOE recommends that homeowners also replace their air handlers when buying a new central air conditioning system. An air handler that is more than 15 years old, may compromise the overall energy efficiency of your new AC unit.
Choosing the Right Air Conditioning System
Once you’ve made the decision to buy a new air conditioning system in Tampa Bay, you may want to check that it has certain features, aside from the Energy Star® and SEER rating.
The DOE recommends new central air conditioners include:
- A thermal expansion valve and a high-temperature rating (EER) greater than 11.6, for high-efficiency operation, when the weather is at its hottest
- A variable speed air handler for new ventilation systems
- A unit that operates quietly
- A fan-only switch, so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to substantially reduce air-conditioning costs
- A filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours
- An automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off.
Installation and Location
The proper installation and location of your air conditioner will ensure the AC system operates efficiently for the duration of its life, provided routine maintenance is performed every six months, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
If an AC system is not installed the right way or is in a bad location, it can diminish the energy efficiency of central air conditioners to the point that they perform poorly.
The DOE directs central air conditioner installers to:
- Allow adequate indoor space for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the new system.
- Use a duct-sizing methodology such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D.
- Ensure there are enough supply registers to deliver cool air and enough return air registers to carry warm house air back to the air conditioner.
- Seal all ducts with duct mastic and heavily insulate attic ducts.
- Position the condensing unit on a concrete slab where noise will not be problematic, if at all possible.
- Locate the condensing unit where no nearby objects will block airflow.
- Verify that the newly installed air conditioner has the exact refrigerant charge and airflow rate specified by the manufacturer.
- Locate the thermostat away from heat sources, such as windows or supply registers.
If your air conditioning system is an older model exceeding 15-20 years; under-performing in the summer heat; or worse, it has completely failed, Proficient Air honors warranty repairs on most equipment, whether installed by us or not. Warranties only cover parts, however, and are subject to a warranty fee. Labor is an additional charge with warranty repairs. If your air conditioner is not under warranty, we happily provide a FREE diagnostic assessment with approval of recommended repairs for new customers.
If your central air conditioner is past the point of affordable repairs, consider purchasing a York® air conditioner from Proficient Air, which includes models that will best fit your needs and have earned an ENERGY STAR™ for energy efficiency. Moreover, York® products are backed by some of the best warranties in the industry!
The importance of air conditioning in Florida is a given, and we understand it is a major investment. That’s why we’re here to help! Proficient Air in Palm Harbor offers a variety of high-quality air conditioning systems, as well as routine maintenance contracts, that are specifically tailored to your needs and budget. Stay cool in the summer heat by investing in a high-quality, energy-efficient air conditioning system for consistent home comfort and improved air quality year-round. Schedule your new ac installation, repairs, or preventative maintenance appointment today: 727.386.2732