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A/C myth vs. fact: SEER, size, maintenance and money

Outdoor air conditioning and heat pump units

An air conditioning system replacement is among the largest expenses for a homeowner or business owner. That’s why it is important to distinguish between an A/C myth and an A/C fact. 

As a trusted, licensed contractor, Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air services homes and businesses across Southwest Florida. Certified technicians within Pro-Tec’s HVAC Division (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) have heard and seen it all. 

Common A/C myths focus on four areas: SEER ratings, size, maintenance and money. Here is a breakdown that every homeowner should understand: 

A/C Myth: SEER Ratings 

Myth: SEER ratings are just a way to get customers to buy a more expensive product. 

Trane, a leading manufacturer of A/C systems, notes the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency. It’s calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. 

To become a government-certified ENERGY STAR product, an A/C system needs a SEER rating of 14.5 or better. 

However, even the most efficient systems on the market can be inefficient if improperly installed. A certified, experienced technician can make sure an A/C system is hooked up based on manufacturer specifications. Top systems also must be properly maintained to ensure their performance meets industry standards.  

Fact: SEER ratings allow consumers to know if they have an energy-efficient A/C system. 

A/C Myth: Size 

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Myth: A bigger A/C unit ensures your house or business will stay cool during the summer. 

An A/C system’s size is expressed as tonnage. The Florida Building Code requires the size of air conditioners match the size and conditions of the home or business. A 2-ton unit, for example, would be ideal for a 1,200-square-foot single-family home or office. Meanwhile, a 4-ton unit is well-suited for a 2,400-square-foot property. 

Tonnage has no affect on an A/C system’s efficiency. In fact, a unit that is too large for a home or business may perform worse. That’s because it would start and stop more often, and those quick cycles burn energy. 

Fact: Certified installers will calculate the size of an A/C unit that is appropriate for each residence. 

A/C Myth: Maintenance 

Air Conditioner Maintenance and repair

Myth: Preventative maintenance isn’t really necessary; A/C companies make more money by scheduling service calls. 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That saying has been around for years. However, it’s counterproductive for mechanical equipment. 

When it comes to air conditioning systems, there is a different saying: If it ain’t well-maintained, it will break. 

Preventative maintenance is a necessity for A/C systems. In fact, the lack of regular maintenance might invalidate a manufacturer’s warranty. Pro-Tec recommends a semi-annual maintenance program to keep systems working efficiently. Efficiency is important because a well-running system saves on monthly energy costs. Experienced technicians will calibrate systems, clean coils and fans, check temperature readings and complete other tune-ups. 

In addition to improving efficiency, regular maintenance also extends the life of an A/C system. Well-maintained systems can last 15 to 20 years. However, those who do not prioritize maintenance might need to replace their systems within eight to 10 years. That could mean spending twice as much money on A/C system replacements. 

Fact: Preventative maintenance is a cost-efficient way to keep A/C systems running smoothly for many years. 

A/C Myth: Money 

Thermostat for home furnace and air conditioner. Utility bill savings, energy cost and conservation concept

Myth: It’s a waste of money to replace an A/C system that is still working. 

A new A/C system for a single-family home or small business can easily cost $5,000 or more to replace. Naturally, many people put off that expense. So long as the A/C is still blowing cool air, they are satisfied. 

Unfortunately, A/C systems on their last leg are not operating near maximum efficiency. They can struggle to keep rooms cool, adding $30 or more to monthly energy bills. Over one year, that’s at least $360 wasted. 

There are tell-tale signs that it might be time to replace your A/C unit: 

  • Energy bills have skyrocketed 
  • Corrosion is visible on the unit 
  • Leaks are occurring 
  • The system makes odd sounds or loud noises 
  • There is a drastic increase in dust 
  • The system struggles to achieve a comfortable, consistent temperature 

A good rule of thumb is the 50% rule. If repairs cost more than 50% of the replacement cost, then it’s best to purchase a new system. Florida summers are unbearable without air conditioning. It’s best to replace an A/C system before you’re stuck for days – or longer – without cool air. 

Fact: Purchasing a new A/C system can save money on future energy bills. 

Need help separating myths from facts? Contact Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air for a personalized quote. 

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