What do you need to do to make sure you keep your cool? For one thing, make sure you have a heating and cooling professional check out your system once or twice a year. Sometimes cleaning, changing the filer or other small repairs can help keep your system running smoothly. Be sure to check a company’s BBB Business Review before you call a repair company.
If you need to replace your unit or you’re buying one for the first time, BBB has these tips:
- Look at the unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher the number, the less energy it uses to cool. Look for a rating of 16 or higher. Some new units may have a rating of 25 or higher.
- Buy a unit that is sized to fit your home. Ask your contractor for recommendations.
- Check your refrigerant. If the label on your outside air conditioner lists R-22, you should consider an upgrade because R-22 contributes to ozone depletion. R-22 is being phased out and will no longer be available after 2015. R-410A is a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, according to Emerson, a manufacturer of climate control products.
- Consider placing the outside unit in the shade, where it will run more efficiently. You can plant shrubs or trees around it, but make sure not to plant so close that air flow is restricted. Keep weeds and other structures away from the unit.
- Ask for a written estimate and contract, and be sure you read and understand it. To make sure the bid is reasonable, seek estimates from at least three contractors.
- Don’t pay the entire amount before the unit is installed. Consider paying a third to secure the contract, another third when the work is half done and the final third only when the work is completed to your satisfaction.