Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with new, energy-efficient models is a great start. But to make sure that you get the best performance, the new equipment must be properly installed. In fact, improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30% costing you more on your utility bills and possibly shorten the equipment's life. Make sure to ask your contractor if his or her work meets ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines. These guidelines, based on the Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA) quality installation specification, require:
Proper Sizing of Equipment:
Installing the right size equipment for the home is essential to getting the best performance and comfort. Many homeowners believe that bigger is always better when buying new heating and cooling equipment. In reality, a system that's too large will not keep your home comfortable because of frequent 'on/off' cycling. Incorrect sizing can also put stress on your system's components and shorten the equipment's life. With an ENERGY STAR quality Installation, your contractor will make sure that you get a system that is the right size for your home.
To help ensure that your new system delivers the heated or cooled air to all the rooms of your home, contractors using ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines will evaluate your duct system to identify leaks and then seal them using mastic, metal-backed tape, or an aerosol-based sealant. In some instances, your contractor may advise you that it is necessary to replace or add ducts.
Ensuring Proper Refrigerant Charge:
The Incorrect refrigerant level can lower efficiency by 5-20 percent and can ultimately cause premature component failure resulting in costly repairs. With an ENERGY STAR Quality Installation, your contractor will verify that the refrigerant level in the system is correct
Optimizing Air Flow:
If the air flow in your heating and cooling system is too high or too low, you may experience comfort problems and higher utility bills. With an ENERGY STAR Quality Installation, your contractor will test air flow and make any needed adjustments for optimal performance.
Quality Installation Checklist
- Provide adequate room around the equipment for service and maintenance
- Install and set up a programmable thermostat (if not already in use)
- Show you how to change the filter(s)
- Test and verify proper airflow (if a furnace or heat pump)
- Verify that your furnace or boiler has been tested for proper burner operation and proper venting of flue gases. The vent piping should be inspected for leaks or deterioration and repaired or replaced as necessary
- Install a properly matched indoor coil when replacing an outdoor unit. An old coil will not work efficiently with a new outdoor unit
- Confirm that the level of refrigerant charge and the airflow across the indoor coil meets the manufacturer's recommendation. It's estimated that more than 60% of central air conditioners are incorrectly charged during installation
- Place the condenser in an area that can be protected from rain, snow, or vegetation as specified by the manufacturer. If you have a central air conditioning unit, cover your outside equipment during the winter to protect it from snow and ice. Heat pumps need to be left uncovered to properly operate during the winter
Knowing these few tips will ensure you get quality and value from the contractor and your new equipment.