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7 Tips for Choosing the Right Air Conditioner

In most homes, the HVAC system is the most complex component of the structure. It’s the biggest energy consumer in homes today on average. The air conditioner also impacts air quality, comfort and safety. 

Needless to say, it’s important to put some thought into which AC system will work best in your home. There are a lot of different options and configurations that could work, but what you want to find is the AC system that can keep your home comfortable while using the least amount of kilowatt-hours (kWh). 

Anyone who is in the market for a new air conditioner should consider these seven factors before making a purchase.

AC Energy Use 

The first thing you should do is understand your energy usage, in particular how much you’re using the AC. One way you can figure out the energy used by the AC is to compare energy use from last spring to last summer. The major difference between the two is usually the air conditioner, which will give you a rough estimate of how much it’s used. Check out your energy bill for the past energy use information. 

If you’re currently using the air conditioner you can simply monitor daily use for several days to get a good daily average. A smart thermostat may be able to gather the energy usage data for you. A whole house energy monitoring tool is another investment that can tell you exactly how much energy different devices and appliances use. 

How much energy you’re using will tell you the size AC system you need to meet your minimum requirements. The next task is finding the AC system that can meet your needs most efficiently. 

Requirements for Air Conditioner Tax Credits

Many people are considering an HVAC system upgrade because the federal government extended energy efficiency tax credits that can apply to air conditioners. Homeowners can get a 30% tax credit of up to $600 a year to offset the cost of a new, more efficient AC system. 

However, there are some requirements in order to get the tax credit. For starters, make sure you keep all records of payment for the system. This includes labor costs for installation and a home energy audit if you did one. You’ll also need to complete IRS form 5695 to claim the credit.

Heating and cool equipment must meet or exceed efficiency standards set by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. Eligible products here: CEE Directory.

ENERGY STAR Certified AC Systems

One of the easiest ways to ensure your AC system is energy efficient is to choose one that’s ENERGY STAR certified. An ENERGY STAR air conditioning system is at least 8% more efficient than similar standard models without lowering quality or performance. They also have a higher energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating and seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) compared to conventional models. 

Size of the Air Conditioning System

One of the most important energy efficiency factors is the size of the system. It needs to be large enough to effectively cool the home, but small enough that it isn’t wasting energy. If you get quotes from installers they should provide recommendations for the size of the AC system. This provides the best direction for determining an adequate AC size. 

There are also some sizing standards for AC systems that provide guidance. Basically, the size of the home’s square footage correlates with tonnage for an AC system. For example:

Homes up to 1,000 square feet – 1.5 ton AC system

Homes 1,000-1,500 square feet – 2 ton AC system

Homes 1,500-2,000 square feet – 3 ton AC system


Let’s face it. Some manufacturers have better reputations than others. Leading manufacturers are known to have high quality equipment that’s reliable along with exceptional customer service. Some of today’s top air conditioner manufacturers include Trane, Carrier and Lennox. Each manufacturer has it’s own strong suits, for example, Lennox AC systems are known for their superior energy efficiency.

Although reputation is important, you can’t go off of name recognition alone. Take the time to read the latest consumer reviews for AC manufacturers. The best manufacturers will continue innovating and improving rather than resting on their laurels.


An air conditioning system is very expensive and complex. There are hundreds of components that need to be in perfect working condition or the entire system can be rendered useless when you need it most. The warranty can be a lifesaver in these moments.

Typically, a new air conditioning system will come with a 10-year limited parts warranty. That means specific parts of the AC system are covered for 10 years if they malfunction or break. You’ll also come across 1-year, 5-year, 20-year and lifetime warranties. Trane is known in the industry for having one of the best warranties. New systems come with 12-year compressor warranty and a 10-year parts and labor warranty.

But to get any warranty, you’ll need to register the system with the manufacturer after installation. Also, be careful to read the fine print so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered by the warranty.

Special Features

Once all the other considerations for needs have been covered you can think about all of the wants for an air conditioning system. If you have narrowed the selection down to just a few AC systems, the special features can help you decide which one will be best.

Smart features are highly beneficial if you want more control and the ability to maximize energy savings. 

At Spark Energy we can help you get the most efficient AC system for your home by providing energy use data on every utility bill. We also provide expert advice on how to optimize energy usage for the biggest savings. See if you’re able to join the millions who have made the switch to Spark Energy.

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