With weather temperatures fluctuating wildly across the United States, it’s more important than ever to regulate heating and cooling. A quality HVAC unit can run efficiently, provide reliable temperature control, and last for years when properly maintained. A technological advance means that there are a variety of systems from which to choose. Here is a reliable guide for picking out a system, getting it installed, and keeping it working at peak power.

Choosing the Right System

The first big decision in selecting a new system is choosing between central air or a heat pump air conditioner. Central AC uses ducts to distribute cool air throughout the house. This type is powered by a refrigerant and circulates through a blower. On the other hand, the heat pump air conditioner moves warm air outside of the house to keep things cool.

The Secret Ingredient: Ducts

A good contractor will be able to tell if the house has requisite ductwork throughout the house for good air movement. A good heating system usually means that the groundwork has been laid for central air. Old or undersized ducts will strain the HVAC system, create noise, pollute the air, drain energy, and cause a hassle even for a new system. Duct placement is also important, as there needs to be access to airways and no obstacles. Outside units should be at least two feet away from any plants or shrubbery that could cause any sort of blockage.

Installation and Power

The necessary power rating of the HVAC will depend on the size of the house and fluctuations in temperatures throughout the year. The power, or cooling capacity, can be determined with the assistance of an experienced contractor. This is closely tied to the SEER number, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating. A system with a high SEER will result in lower energy costs.

A Contractor You Can Trust

One of the beauties of the internet is that all reputable businesses should have certificates online and customer reviews readily displayed for comparisons. If not, this may be cause for concern. Additionally, every HVAC installer should have bonding, insurance, and licenses ready to show upon request. Of course, nothing beats a referral from a trusted family or friend. After checking out the company background, ask for an estimated cost for their job to compare with other offers. Securing multiple offers gives leverage in a negotiation, and the option to go with the lowest price if that person can do quality work too.

Personal Upkeep

After a successful selection and installation, regular maintenance is necessary to keep a system working in prime condition. The easiest and most important step is to clean the ducts out at least once a month, when you feel a decrease in air flow, or whenever they just become noticeable clogged. Once a year, a professional should be brought in to drain the system, flush the coils, vacuum the blower, and make sure that the ducts are still tight.