Upgrading Your Missoula Residential Air Conditioning System

If your home’s current HVAC system is getting older and you think it is on its last legs, then you have found the right place.  While you probably have an idea of what to look for, let’s make sure you haven’t missed anything.  Here are 10 considerations when preparing to upgrade your Missoula residential air conditioning system.

1. Assess Your Current Missoula Residential Air Conditioning System

Unlocking the key to maximizing your home’s comfort and efficiency starts with understanding your existing HVAC system. By evaluating the current state of your air conditioning setup, you pave the way for informed decisions on potential upgrades. Consider a few pointers to assess the health of your AC unit and lay the groundwork for future enhancements.

Determine the Age of Your Current HVAC System

Knowing the age of your AC system can help you anticipate when it may require repairs or replacement, allowing you to plan and budget accordingly for future HVAC needs. One way to determine the age of your AC system is by locating the manufacturer’s label on the unit, which typically includes the production date. Another method is to check your maintenance records or contact the previous homeowner for information on when the system was installed.

Here is a guide to help you determine your HVAC system’s age:

Carrier: Typically, the first four digits indicate the week and year of manufacture. E.g., 3014 would mean the 30th week of 2014.

Trane: Often, the first digit represents the year, and the next two digits represent the week of manufacture. Ex. 512 would mean the 12th week of a year ending in 5, which could be 2005, 2015, etc.

Lennox: Usually, the second and fourth digits represent the year, and the third and fifth digits represent the month. E.g., 1605C would mean the unit was manufactured in May 2016.

Is Your HVAC System in Good Condition?

When inspecting the condition of your air conditioning unit, you are looking for signs of wear and tear on the outdoor condenser unit as well as the indoor unit. While all units will need parts replaced as time passes, there will come a point where the parts break more often and become a regular occurrence. There could come a point where the entire system quits, or your system could keep running at an extremely inefficient rate.

Determine the Energy Efficiency of Your Current HVAC System

Over time, you will notice your Missoula residential air conditioning system become more inefficient.  You can check the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of your current unit. Newer units typically offer higher SEER ratings, meaning greater energy efficiency. Brand new units are extremely efficient because they use the latest technology, but also because all of the components are new and function at a high level.  As units age, they become less efficient as the parts experience wear and tear. By determining how efficient your current unit is, you will be able to determine how much more energy-efficient a new unit will be in your home.

2. Perform a Load Calculation of Your Missoula Residential Air Conditioning System

You can determine if your current Missoula residential air conditioning system is capable of maintaining the comfort level you desire in your home. This will also help you know what to look for when searching for a replacement HVAC system.

Get a Professional Assessment

Hire a professional HVAC company like Garden City Plumbing & Heating to perform a load calculation. This assessment considers factors such as the size of your home, insulation, number of windows, and local climate to determine the appropriate capacity for your new system.

3. Evaluate Advanced Features

There are a variety of customizations and new technology that you should consider for your Missoula home.  While you may not want to do all of these, you may select several that will not only make your home more energy efficient but more comfortable as well!

Programmable Thermostats

Systems with programmable or smart thermostats allow for better temperature control and energy savings. You can set the temperature so the AC will run less while you are out of the house. For example, you can turn up the temperature during working hours, and program it to bring the house back to your desired temperature 30 minutes before you get home so it will be comfortable as soon as you arrive home. Not only will you be able to save money on energy costs, you will not have to be uncomfortable in doing so. 

Smart Thermostats

Smart Thermostats differ from programmable thermostats in that they can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. This allows you to control your Missoula residential air conditioning system from anywhere you have an internet connection. You can turn up the temperature while you are at work, on vacation, or wherever you find yourself. 

Zoned Cooling

This feature allows you to cool different areas of your home independently, enhancing comfort and efficiency. It is a very common system feature in modern homes. You can have as many zones as you have rooms. Many homes have the bedrooms set to one zone and then the living room set to a different zone. If your Missoula residential air conditioning system does not have zones, this could be a great addition to your HVAC system.

Variable Speed Compressors

This technology is less noticeable in the comfort of your home but will be noticeable when it comes to your power bills. These compressors adjust their speed based on cooling demand, providing more consistent temperatures and improved efficiency. Not only is it good for your wallet, but it is also good for the planet.

4. Consider Energy Efficiency

Everybody can appreciate saving money on their power bills, but energy efficiency is also good for the planet. If you can maintain the same level of comfort in your home while lowering your costs and having less impact on the planet, it only makes sense to do so!

SEER Rating

We mentioned SEER ratings above. It is standard for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Look for units with a high SEER rating. A higher SEER rating means better energy efficiency, which can result in lower utility bills.

ENERGY STAR Certification

Another great logo to look for is ENERGY STAR.  If you choose a system that is ENERGY STAR certified, it will meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Be sure to look for tax rebates available for installing ENERGY STAR units.

5. Consider Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is the core purpose of Air Conditioning and other HVAC systems.  Be sure to choose a new air conditioning system for your Missoula home that meets your air quality needs.

Filtration

Good filtration removes airborne contaminants such as dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and bacteria. This is particularly important for individuals with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, as cleaner air can significantly reduce symptoms and improve overall health.  Good filtration also reduces the frequency of repairs needed and extends the life of the AC unit.  Good filtration ensures that the system performs at its best, providing consistent and reliable cooling. This is especially important during peak usage periods when the demand on the system is highest.

Humidity Control

Ensure the system can effectively manage humidity levels, as excessive humidity can impact comfort and air quality.  Having a unit that can effectively control moisture levels within the HVAC system reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth. Mold can spread through the air and pose significant health risks, in addition to causing unpleasant odors.

Ventilation

Good ventilation systems help remove stale air and bring in fresh air, which is important for maintaining a healthy indoor environment. Look for systems with the following specifications.

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs): Ensure the AC unit has options for ventilation, such as integrated fresh air intakes or ERVs. These features allow the system to bring in outdoor air while exhausting indoor air, maintaining good ventilation.

Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs): Some systems come with HRVs that capture heat from the exhaust air and transfer it to the incoming fresh air, improving energy efficiency. 

CFM Rating: Check the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating, which indicates the unit’s airflow capacity. A higher CFM rating means better airflow and improved ventilation.

Variable Speed Fans: Units with variable speed fans can better manage ventilation by adjusting airflow according to the needs of the space.

6. Research The Warranty Options

Check the warranties offered on the systems. A longer warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment. 

7. Plan for Installation

Choose a date: It doesn’t make it feel much more official than putting something down on the calendar.  Be sure to work with your HVAC contractor on a realistic expectation of a clear timeline.

Plan for weather: Try to schedule installation during a period of mild weather to avoid extreme temperatures, which can make the process more challenging and uncomfortable.

Protect your home: Make sure fragile or costly items are in a safe and protected place.  That heirloom lamp cannot be replaced.

Prepare for accessibility: You may want to move furniture out of the normal area so that the HVAC contractors can access everything they need to.  Be sure that all components can be easily accessed for the duration of the installation process.

Check Electrical System: Ensure your home’s electrical system can handle the new AC unit. This might require upgrading your electrical panel or installing a dedicated circuit.

Communicate with your Missoula HVAC Contractors. Understand the installation process and any potential disruptions it may cause.

Prepare for disposal of the old unit: Arrange for the removal and proper disposal of your old AC unit. If you need guidance with this, talk to your Missoula residential air conditioning contractor.

Upgrading your Missoula Residential Air Conditioning System

Whether you are still doing research or you are ready to book it, Garden City Plumbing and Heating is ready to take your call. Licensed and Certified, we can give you the information and service you have been looking for. Call the Missoula HVAC pros at (406) 728-5550 or contact us online.