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AC Heating and Cooling Basics

Whether you’re building a new home or preparing for a remodel, you need to understand the basics of AC heating and cooling systems. Understanding the types of equipment available and their benefits can help you select the best solution for your needs and budget.

An HVAC system consists of a furnace for heating and an air conditioner for cooling. The two systems are usually tied together by ductwork.

What is an AC unit?

An AC unit is an important part of your home’s heating and cooling system. HVAC stands for “heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.”

The main purpose of an AC unit is to keep your indoor temperatures cool. It also circulates and filters your air, which helps to remove pollutants like mold spores.

In addition to cooling your home, an AC unit can help dehumidify it by condensing excess moisture in the air. This is especially helpful if you live in an area that tends to have a lot of humidity.

A large fan inside the condenser unit is another important component that helps the process along. It also disperses heat by moving it away from the condenser coils.

Types of AC units

AC heating and cooling systems come in several different types. They include split systems, duct-free systems, hybrid systems, and packaged heating and air units.

Depending on your needs, you may want to consider a stand-alone AC unit or a split-system AC unit. Stand-alone ACs are easier to install, and move around, and generally quieter than split-systems.

In a stand-alone system, both evaporator and condenser coils are inside one device. The evaporator cools the indoor air, while the condenser absorbs and dissipates heat outdoors.

Portable air conditioners are another option and can be very handy for temporary space cooling or wherever a window or split AC isn’t possible. They can be single-hose which pulls in air from the room, or dual-hose which pulls in air from the outside and discharges it outdoors.

SEER ratings

When you are in the market for a new AC unit, SEER ratings are one of the most important considerations. This rating reflects the maximum efficiency a system can achieve under ideal conditions.

A higher SEER will result in lower energy bills. It also can provide more accurate cooling and less wear and tear on your home.

The United States Department of Energy requires residential systems to meet a minimum SEER, which is 14 for units in the northern U.S. and 15 in the southern U.S.

However, many factors influence the performance of an AC unit and affect its SEER rating, including the ductwork, the size of the house, and its age. This means a high SEER may not always be the best choice for your home.


A warranty is a contract that guarantees repairs or replacements will be covered. They can be offered on a variety of products, including cars and air conditioners.

Warranties cover the cost of repairs or replacements due to defects in materials or workmanship. Some warranties also include labor costs.

Most manufacturer warranties offer a one-year, five-year, 20-year, or lifetime parts and labor warranty on your unit. It’s worth reading the details to make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in the coverage.

Installation costs

Your home’s HVAC system helps keep you comfortable in the summer and winter, circulating fresh air to reduce allergens and dust. It also saves you money by reducing your energy bill.

Prices for a new AC unit depend on the size and brand of the system, house size, ductwork length, and efficiency rating. A high-efficiency unit costs more upfront, but it’s more efficient and will cost less to run.

A new AC installation can take 1 to 2 days, depending on whether your house has ductwork or not. It’s best to get at least three estimates from contractors before hiring one.

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