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Air Conditioner Guide

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A Comprehensive Guide to Air Conditioner Types and Details

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners are sold in many big box stores and are an affordable option to cool a single room. They sit in a window opening, with expandable side panels to fill the side gaps. They are good for someone needing a short term solution, or someone renting a space with no central air conditioning. While they are not very expensive to purchase, the operating costs can be comparatively high.


Portable Air Conditioners

Another option that can be used for single room applications are portable air conditioners. They usually have wheels and can be moved easily. They also will have an expandable hose that must be vented to the outside, perhaps through a window, to exhaust the hot air outside the home. They usually cost a little more than window air conditioner options, and again, the cost to operate these units can be fairly expensive.


Ductless Mini-Splits

Ductless mini-split systems have become a very popular and energy efficient choice for cooling areas of homes without ductwork. These units have wall, floor, or ceiling mounted indoor units that connect to a compressor unit that sits outside. These units run very quietly and have low operating costs. Some units are cooling only, but many of the ductless mini-splits are heat pumps, and deliver both heating and cooling.


Central Air Conditioning

The most popular option for cooling your whole home is a central air conditioner, so we will expand more on this. Central air conditioners provide cooling throughout your home using the existing ductwork. These units have an outdoor compressor unit, and indoor evaporator coil that usually sits on top of your furnace. The furnace blower motor will blow the air over the cold coil, thus delivering cool air throughout your home. Central ACs come in a variety of price ranges. The least expensive options will provide cooling throughout your home, and at a more affordable operating cost than portable units. The more expensive central air conditioners will come in a variety of efficiencies, along with two stage, variable speed, and inverter compressor models.


With a central air conditioner, most homes only need one unit to cool the whole home. Larger homes may require 2 or more systems, but even then, the comfort and operating costs are much better than using multiple window or portable units. To compare the energy efficiency of different air conditioners, pay attention to the SEER2 ratings. The higher the SEER2 number, the more efficient the air conditioner is, resulting in lower electric bills.


Central air conditioners come in different capacities, usually, 1.5 ton (18,000 BTUs), 2 ton (24,000 BTUs), 2.5 ton (30,000 BTUs), 3 ton (36,000 BTUs), 3.5 Ton (42,000 BTUs), 4 Ton (48,000 BTUs), and 5 Ton (60,000 BTUs). These numbers represent how much heat the air conditioner is able to remove from the home within a specific amount of time. It is very important to have your central air conditioner be the correct size for your home. Your HVAC company, hopefully Westin Air, will be able to determine the correct size by performing a Manual J calculation. This is performed by using the dimensions of your home, the orientation and size of all windows and doors, the insulation in your home, along with several other factors. You certainly don't want a central air conditioner that is too small for your home, but you also do not want a unit that is oversized. An oversized unit will not run as long before satisfying the thermostat, resulting in less humidity removal, and more uneven temperatures in your home.


Another consideration when selecting a central air conditioner for your home, is the noise level of the outdoor unit. We often hear complaints from customers that their old units are very noisy, which is very annoying when close to a bedroom, living area, or near a patio or deck. You can look for the decibel ratings when considering different models. Westin Air sells an amazingly quiet air conditioner, the Daikin Fit system. This air conditioner is also extremely energy efficient, and comes with an impressive 12 year parts warranty. We also have a fully operational unit in the conference room at our Sunbury location. Contact us if you would like to see and hear this unit while operating.


When shopping for a new central air conditioner, it's important to purchase a reliable brand. With so many brands on the market, it can be quite confusing. Things to consider are customer ratings, track records of durability and problems with the different makes and models. Westin Air has considered many factors when deciding which brands to offer to their customers. We believe that the brands we carry are some of the best in the market. Westin Air carries Daikin, Trane, Tempstar, and Mitsubishi air conditioners.


Along with selecting a reliable brand, it is imperative to select a company that will guarantee that your central air conditioner will be installed correctly. Westin Air's installers are highly trained, NATE certified, and our own employees, not subcontractors. We also follow all manufacturer and local building code requirements when installing central air conditioners.


Once you have made your decision to get a new air conditioner, remember that maintenance is key to keeping it running efficiently and without unexpected problems. An easy, but often forgotten, tip to keep your new AC running efficiently, is to regularly change your filters! It is imperative for maintaining good air flow and efficiency. A really dirty filter can even cause your indoor coil to freeze up, and stop it from cooling at all.


The outdoor coil can accumulate a lot of dirt on the surface which greatly reduces performance. If you live anywhere near a cottonwood tree, be sure to rinse off your coil after the cottonwood fluff is all done falling. It will create a mat of fluff on the outside which will not allow the air to pass through properly. In any case, it is good to gently rinse off the dirt and debris at least once a year.


It is important to have regular maintenance on your air conditioner. Westin Air offers several different maintenance plans to suit your individual maintenance needs. A air conditioner that is regularly maintained will operate more efficiently than one that is not. One item that is checked during a maintenance visit is the refrigerant level. The proper refrigerant level is a must for optimal cooling efficiency. If the refrigerant level is low, this can lead to reduced cooling capacity and higher energy bills. Even if you are not on one of Westin Air's maintenance plans, you can always call and ask for an AC tune-up or maintenance visit. You can find more information about Westin Air's different maintenance plans here:

Download Our Maintenance Plan


Some homes have problems with areas of the home being warmer than others. This may be due to a ductwork issue or a return air issue. Check for supply registers that may not be open or blocked by furniture. The same would apply to return air vents. Many times people place a large piece of furniture directly in front of the return air vent, which then creates an airflow issue in that room. If you find that none of your vents are blocked, one of Westin Air's technicians may be able to adjust your ductwork to direct more air to the problem area.


If your air conditioner is making strange noises, there may be a mechanical issue that needs expert attention. There could be a loose part that might cause further damage, if the issue is not addressed quickly. Call Westin Air and one of our qualified service technicians will inspect your air conditioning system to find the cause of the noise, and be able to fix the problem.


If you notice an ice buildup on the outside portion of the line set where it is attached to the condenser unit, or icing where the refrigerant lines attach to the indoor coil, this usually indicates a refrigerant leak. Low refrigerant levels lead to poor performance of your air conditioning system, along with higher electric bills. Be sure to call Westin Air promptly to have your unit checked for a refrigerant leak.


There are several ways to save energy when cooling your home. A smart thermostat gives you the ability to program your temperature settings so that you can adjust the temperature of your home when you are not there, and have it back to your preferred temperature when you are home. Proper insulation is key to lower electric bills. A well insulated home can significantly reduce your energy bills for both cooling and heating. Be sure to check for areas with inadequate insulation, along with leaky windows and doors. A little bit of money spent in this area can enhance the comfort of your home, along with lower operating costs.


A new air conditioner can be quite costly. The factors to consider are energy efficiency, and the need for a 2 state or variable speed unit versus a single stage. Also, it is wise to get several quotes when making a major purchase, such as a new AC. Be sure the companies you call have a good reputation and will honor their warranties. A good installation is just as important as getting the right equipment for your home. Westin Air has an excellent reputation for quality work and they always stand behind their work. There are also some federal tax credits available on certain Energy Star rated air conditioners, which help offset some of the cost of your replacement.


Your new air conditioning system will keep your home cool and comfortable in the warm weather for years to come. Proper installation, maintenance, and correct sizing are all very important factors to consider for optimal performance. Consult with one of Westin Air's comfort consultants when you are considering purchasing a new AC. They will be able to help you make an informed decision when selecting the brand, SEER rating, and features that will make your new air conditioner a perfect fit for your home and lifestyle.


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