In the desert, we’re used to hearing big compressor boxes outside our houses that clunk on-and-off night-and-day to cool us off during the hottest times of the year.
But new developments have been shaking up the world of air conditioners in the past few years. If you’re in the market for a new heating and cooling system, you may already have heard about these three technology trends:
1. MINI-SPLITS: SMALL “BOXES” TO COOL A ROOM OR TWO
A mini-split is a small, ductless, split-system air conditioner that can be a great solution for a garage, a bedroom or any room that’s hotter than the rest of the house.
Just to explain: A split system is one with an air handler in one place and cooling machinery in another place, often outdoors. A mini-split is a very small version of that.
A mini-split is not like a window air conditioner though because it has an outdoor condenser plus a small indoor unit or handler with small-diameter tubes running between inside and outside units. You can’t see the tubes much because they run through walls to the outside of your home.
Mini-splits are quieter and more efficient and can hook up three or four rooms to the same outdoor unit, but one unit can’t cool a whole house. They can also be used for heating.
Because they have no ducts like the ones in your attic, they avoid energy loss associated with leaky ducts. This indoor air handler is about a yard wide by three feet wide by a foot tall and a foot in depth. It can hang from a ceiling or be mounted on a wall.
The downside: They are expensive and can cost $3,500 to $4,500 per system. Although they’re small, you notice them more than you would notice the vent in a wall or ceiling for conventional air conditioner.
2. VARIABLE SPEED: LONGER, QUIETER COOLING AND SMALLER POWER BILLS
“Variable speed” refers to how the fan motor operates for the air handler, the indoor part of an HVAC system that moves cool or warm air through ducts in your house. It’s often in a closet or in the attic. The compressor, of course, is usually in the backyard or on the roof.
Air conditioners that are 10 years old or more have a single-stage compressor outside that comes on and runs full-blast until the house cools off to what the thermostat says. They turn on and off all day in the desert to reach that temp. That means the AC might have a shorter life span and need more repairs.
But with a variable speed furnace or air handler and a two-stage or variable speed compressor, your AC will be more efficient. It will have longer and quieter cooling cycles. That means you can save money on your utility bill. By running more, variable speed systems move air more often through air filters. So, there could be less dust and fewer allergens in your house.
When you replace an old or broken system, a contractor will probably offer you a variable speed AC as an alternative. These models have much better SEERs. SEER, of course, stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The government mandates that new AC equipment be at least a SEER 13. But variable speed ACs can be much higher than that.
The downside: Variable speed air conditioners are more expensive. For a 2,000 square-foot, one-story home the cost of a replacing an air conditioner with one of these models could be from $2,000 to $3,000 more. As time goes on and more companies make them, prices can drop. Your savings on power bills will get better and better, making variable speed more logical. Of course, this is new technology, and you want it installed by someone trained in differences with the new units as well as how to maintain them.
3. ZONED COOLING: CONTROL EACH ROOM INDIVIDUALLY
Homeowners who buy variable speed ACs are often interested in “zoning” so that they can control the temperatures in individual rooms via thermostats.
This can eliminate the friction among family members when one room is too cold and another is too hot. Do you walk into your home and hit one switch to turn on every light in the house? Of course not. You only light rooms that are occupied. Now you can do that with air conditioning and heating, too. This kind of control can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year and make every room in a house comfortable.
This is how it works: A zone control panel “talks” to your air conditioning system, thermostats around the home and special dampers in your duct system. The dampers are metal discs that electronically open and close, sending air into rooms where the thermostat calls for heating or cooling. You can even shut off cooling in an unoccupied room, for example. Some manufacturers have even produced zoned systems that don’t have ducts but have separate “head units” inside vents.
The downside: Obviously, with all the technology and changes required for zoning, retrofitting an existing house can be somewhat costly. But when building a new house, putting in this system would be easier and less expensive.
For more information on the home buying or selling process, contact The Net More Home Store today.
Source: Rosie Romero