AC/Heat Pump Buying Guide


When you have the right air conditioning system and installer, you’ll enjoy:

  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Cost savings before and after the purchase
  • Installation by a qualified and licensed contractor
  • Confidence that you made the right decision
  • The good feeling that comes from helping improve the environment
  • A more comfortable home and living space

How to determine what you need

If you are considering replacing an existing system, the first thing is to determine what size system is required.

Air conditioning and heat pump system capacities are offered in what is referred to as “tonnage.” If your existing system is properly sized for your home, you can shop using the sizing of your existing system.
The best way to determine what you have now is to look at the outdoor unit. There is a plate or sticker attached to it, usually toward the bottom where a set of copper pipes connects to the unit. The size (tonnage) is never listed on the unit but the model number will usually tell what size is in place. The tonnage, or capacity, of the system is coded in the model number. Somewhere within the model number (NOT the serial number), look for the following numbers: 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, or 60.

  • 18 = 1.5 tons
  • 24 = 2.0 tons
  • 30 = 2.5 tons
  • 36 = 3.0 tons
  • 42 = 3.5 tons
  • 48 = 4.0 tons
  • 60 = 5.0 tons

If you can’t read the model number due to wear on the plate, there are other options: look at the indoor unit, have a load calculation performed, or give us a call to assist you.

Remember, this guide is just to help you shop. When you’re ready for a written estimate from us, your home comfort advisor will confirm the proper equipment size for your home by performing a load calculation. You can then shop all of the options available, including air filtration, system features, and various levels of efficiency that best fit your lifestyle and needs.

Costs and savings breakdown

To determine the type of system you can best afford, find out:

The system’s total cost — including purchase price, installation, and monthly operating costs. A high-efficiency system may cost more initially but saves you money in the long run. We offer air conditioning and heat pump pricing, and annual operating costs, right here on our website to make this research easier for you.

The differences between systems — Use the factors below to compare the air conditioning units you’re considering:

  1. Size
  2. Price
  3. Efficiency Rating
  4. Utility Rebates Available
  5. Estimated Yearly Operating Cost
  6. Annual Savings
  7. Investment Payback Period

Three Easy Steps to Evaluate your AC System

1) Determine if you need a new system

Air conditioning energy costs can account for more than 50 percent of your electric bill during peak cooling and heating months. So before you spend money to repair your air conditioning system or invest in a new one, consider these questions to help evaluate the condition of your existing system:

  • Does your system undergo frequent repairs?
  • Has your system experienced a major component failure?
  • Are you continually receiving high electric bills?
  • Is your air conditioner working harder to keep your home cool?

If your system is more than 8 years old and you answered yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from replacing your system and taking advantage of lower long-term costs.

2) Evaluate your options

Here is key information you’ll want your contractor to provide before making a final decision.

Estimate — We will prepare a detailed, written estimate that includes:

  • System type – straight cool or heat pump
  • Efficiency – recommended efficiency rating
  • Size – you will need a heat load calculation to determine the correct size
  • Utility rebates – rebate amounts available
  • Additional rebates – manufacturer rebates and others
  • Warranty – how long are parts and labor covered
  • Price – All final costs will include any changes to your home’s electrical or duct system to ensure that the duct size is appropriate for your new system

Efficiency extras – Ask your home comfort advisor these important questions:

  • Are preventative maintenance programs available?
  • Will a programmable thermostat help you save even more?
  • Does my duct system have holes or leaks that need repair?
  • Is my home’s ceiling sufficiently insulated?

3) Choose the system that’s right for you

When shopping for a new air conditioning system, it’s important to find one that best fits your household’s needs. The main types of systems to consider are:

» Heat pump system

  • Includes cooling and heating equipment
  • Heats your home at about half the cost of conventional electric strip heating
  • Costs slightly more than a straight cool system
  • Most suitable for homes in Southwest Florida

» Straight cool system

  • An air conditioning system that includes cooling equipment only
  • A gas, oil, or electric strip heater may be included in this type of system

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