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Hot tips for A/C smarts

by David M. Brown on Jun 5, 2015

In order to ensure your new home is comfortable, you need to be comfortable asking your new-home builder about your air conditioning system. Here are a few questions to ask and facts to understand that will help you feel confident that your new home is as cool as you want it to be.

Was the duct system sized and balanced for your home? “Even if you get the equipment sized correctly, if the duct system is not designed and balanced to provide the right airflow to each room without excessive ‘static pressure’ (restrictions that make the blower work more than necessary), then you may still have hot and cold rooms,” according to Greg Cobb, president of Peoria-based Sonoran Air which installs new HVAC systems for homebuilders throughout Arizona.

Ask about the ‘Manual D’ reports from the builder’s HVAC system designer. This is an industry standard method of sizing duct systems to deliver the proper airflow to each room. “The Manual D should be specific to your home, not a generic ‘one size fits all’,” Cobb said. “This will ensure the rooms with west-facing windows get the correct amount of air, compared to rooms with north-facing windows.”

What’s the brand and model type of your specific A/C unit(s)? If you know the model and brand, you can research what type of unit you have,” said Josh Kelly, marketing manager for Phoenix-based Parker & Sons which has been in business for more than 40 years and specializes in heating, cooling and plumbing services.

What’s the SEER rating? SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) documents the energy-efficiency of your system. “The higher the SEER, the lower your utility bills should be as long as it is installed correctly,” Kelly said. The new federal minimum standard for our climate zone is 14 SEER and upgrading to 15 and 16 SEER can still be cost-effective, Cobb said. Higher SEERs above 16 are available, but production homebuilders usually do not offer these because of cost.

Bigger is not necessarily better. Be aware that a larger unit is only better if it fits the size of your new home. “To know the proper size of system, the builder needs to do a heat-load calculation which takes into account the square-footage as well as data such as the number of windows, double- or single-pane windows, insulation, ceiling height and other factors,” Kelly said.

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