Time for an Air Conditioner Replacement? How to Choose the Right Size Unit for Your Home

As the sweltering heat of summer approaches, ensuring your home is equipped with the right air conditioner becomes crucial. An appropriately sized HVAC system not only keeps you comfortable, but also enhances energy efficiency and increases cost savings. To help you make an informed decision, we at Maki Electric, Heating, and Air have compiled a useful guide on selecting the right size air conditioner for your home.


Air Conditioner Replacement: Understanding BTUs and Tonnage

Before diving into the selection process, it’s essential to understand two key terms: BTUs (British Thermal Units) and tonnage. BTUs measure the cooling capacity of an air conditioner unit, indicating the amount of heat that it can remove from a room. Tonnage, on the other hand, refers to the cooling capacity based on the amount of heat extracted by one ton of ice melting in 24 hours (12,000 BTU/hr).


Determining The Cooling Needs of Your Home Before Air Conditioner Replacement

To choose the right size air conditioner, it is important to accurately assess your cooling needs. Several factors influence the cooling needs, including:


  • Your Home’s Square Footage: Measure the area (length × width) of each room you intend to cool. Add up the square footage of all rooms to determine the total cooling area.


  • Insulation Type and Amount: Consider the quality of insulation in your home. Well-insulated homes may require less cooling capacity, while poorly insulated ones may need more. If you find you are lacking in this area, it might also be a good idea to replace your insulation to save on energy costs!


  • Climate Considerations: Take into account the regional climate since hotter climates obviously require higher cooling capacities.


  • Direct Sun Exposure: Evaluate the amount of direct sunlight your home receives. Since sun-drenched rooms will require additional cooling. If you’d like to save even more on energy costs, you can also add blackout shades to specific rooms to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that penetrates into the home.


  • Occupancy and Appliances: Consider the number of occupants and the specific heat-generating appliances in your home such as cooking appliances, electronics, and lighting fixtures.


How to Calculate the Required Cooling Capacity

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you can estimate the cooling capacity required for your home. A common method is to use the following formula:


Total Cooling Capacity (BTUs) = (Area × Climate Factor) + (Heat Sources × Heat Gain Factor)


Calculate the Area: Multiply the square footage of each room by a cooling factor that varies with the room’s characteristics (e.g., orientation, insulation, and occupancy). Add up the results to obtain the cooling capacity.


Determine the Heat Gain: Identify the heat sources in your home and estimate their contribution to the overall heat gain. For each heat source, multiply its BTU output by a heat gain factor (typically 500-800 BTUs per hour) based on its size and type.


Add the two results: Sum up the cooling capacity due to the area and the cooling capacity due to the heat gain to determine the total BTUs needed.


Consult with a Professional HVAC Repairman to Help

If this process seems overwhelming or you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, we recommend you consult with an HVAC repairman here at Maki Heating and Air. Even when using the helpful estimation above, it’s always advisable to consult with a professional air conditioning company for the most accurate assessment. An expert HVAC repairman will also consider additional variables such as ductwork efficiency, ceiling height, and air seepage, to ensure you select the ideal air conditioner size for your specific home.


Avoid These Common Mistakes!

When selecting an appropriately sized air conditioner, try to avoid these common and costly mistakes:


  • Oversizing: Choosing an air conditioner with excessive cooling capacity leads to short cycling (kicking on and off repeatedly), inefficient operation, and increased energy usage and costs for the homeowner.


  • Undersizing: An undersized HVAC unit will struggle to cool your home adequately, resulting in poor comfort levels and potential damage to the system from constant overworking.


Contact the Professionals at Maki Electric, Heating and Air!

Selecting the right size air conditioner for your home is a critical decision that directly impacts your comfort and your home’s energy efficiency. At Maki, Electric, Heating and Air we can have a professionally certified HVAC repairman with years of experience. We provide a thorough HVAC inspection and/or replacement, and it’s our priority to ensure you receive the biggest energy and cost savings available.

Contact us today at (530) 885-3449 or (916) 782-9242 to schedule an appointment. We can help you determine the perfect air conditioner for your home with one simple consultation. At Maki Electric, Heating and Air we are proud to serve the Greater Sacramento Area and surrounding foothills and look forward to working with you to keep your home cool all summer long!


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