Home Visits are a valuable part of the Air Conditioning Quote Process – Especially for the homeowner!
June 8, 2018
With an ever-increasing amount of online purchases, more homeowners are looking for online quotes. While we could provide a ‘bare bones’ price, experience has shown that this usually leads to dissatisfied customers. Why? Obviously doing things remotely makes it difficult to identify all of the required steps and can lead to people thinking that they’re being ‘nickel and dimed’. More importantly for us, it leads to inappropriately sized units. Having a knowledgeable comfort advisor perform an in-house evaluation always leads to a better result for both homeowners and contractors. The unit is sized right, there are no hidden costs, and the system gets installed in a minimum of time.
Frequently we get emails asking “for a quote for a 2000 sq ft house”. While the size of the house is helpful, it is a small part of the whole puzzle that goes into calculating how much cooling capacity is needed. No one is surprised that a new home is better insulated than one built 50 years ago – then why would people think that just because the house is the same size, that it requires the same amount of cooling? Remember, insulation is a thermal barrier that deters heat from migrating. In the winter, it helps keep the heat inside the house (heat moves from hot to cold). Similarly, it tries to prevent the heat from the outside getting into the house in the summer.
Perhaps even more important is the amount and orientation of the windows in the house. During the winter we all know how comfortable /hot it can get even on the coldest of days if we sit on a chair right by a window. The bad news is that as helpful as it is during the day in winter, it makes cooling the house a lot harder in the summer as it magnifies the heat. Many people don’t realize is that the position of the windows (North, South, East, West) will have an even more dramatic impact on how much cooling you need. When we built an addition on our house, we were very excited about the large window we put in the family room. What we were less excited about was the new Air Conditioner we needed since our cooling load had almost doubled with the addition of just one room (and a large south facing window). A professional will be able to quantify exactly how much cooling you need – but only after actually seeing your house.
The exposure of the house can make a huge difference as well. Everyone can understand that a farmhouse on the top of a hill can be a real challenge to heat. Before air conditioning was as common as it is now, people planted trees to shelter the house from the heat. Not only did the trees absorb a lot of the sun’s rays, they kept the direct sunlight off of the windows, helping the house to stay cool. Seasoned comfort advisors look for how exposed/sheltered a house is and adjust the sizing of the unit accordingly.
As you might guess, we see a lot of different perspectives trying to earn people’s business. Frequently we hear “just oversize it and make sure we’ve got enough capacity” These are the kind of band-aids that make unhappy customers. Air Conditioners are controlled by the thermostat and will only run when the thermostat determines that it is too warm in the house (at the location of the thermostat). When the unit is oversized, it produces more cooling than the house actually requires – but remember will only cool when the air around the thermostat is too warm. On hot summer days, chances are the demand will be high for long periods and the A/C will have long runs. Don’t forget how short our summers really are – a lot of the need for air conditioning comes in the fall when we get a brief, warm spell. These are the worst conditions for oversized air conditioners. The house gets a little warm and the thermostat sends a signal for the air conditioner to turn on. The house doesn’t need a lot of cooling but the A/C doesn’t know that – it gives the house everything it can produce until the ‘stat says to stop. Until then, you get very cold damp air that chills everything close to the vents, particularly the ones closest to the furnace. My mother (who to this day hates A/C because of this) used to call it living in a ‘meat locker’. This isn’t even the worst of it. All heating and cooling equipment runs best when it has long runs. By definition, an oversized Air Conditioner will stop and start more frequently which not only creates bigger hydro bills but also leads to premature failure. Instead of getting an A/C that keeps people comfortable in a wide range of conditions, they get only that only works well in heat waves but generates higher operating costs and has a shorter lifespan.
Finally, because the air conditioner is part of your forced air system it will need to be integrated properly. This means we will need to redesign part of the duct system to accommodate the new coil. Without actually seeing the existing ductwork, installers will not know how to adjust the sheet metal. A pre-installation visit ensures all required parts and equipment are identified – ensuring a smooth and cost-effective installation.
Remember, buying an Air Conditioner is no fun. Do your homework and make the right decision that will keep you most comfortable for the longest period of time. Price has little to do with that.