Installing a new air conditioning system in your home can be exciting. If you are retrofitting an older home with a central air system, then you'll get to enjoy the benefits of efficient, whole-home cooling. Installing new equipment in a house with an existing air conditioner can be great as well, with the potential to realize faster, more consistent cooling and lower utility bills.
New installs can be expensive, however. Since these aren't projects to take lightly, there are a few steps that you should always perform before finalizing your install.
1. Evaluate Your Ductwork Situation
If you're retrofitting an older home, then you either don't currently have ductwork, or you have a ducting system designed for forced-air heating. The latter scenario will allow for a much cheaper install since there's no need to run new ductwork. If your home doesn't have existing ductwork, then be prepared to spend more on this critical infrastructure work.
Of course, you aren't out of the woods if your home already has a ductwork system. Before proceeding with any install, you'll want to check your existing ductwork for leaks. Installing a new, high-efficiency air conditioning system will do little good if your home loses a significant portion of conditioned air to leaky air conduits.
2. Check Your Thermostat Placement
Thermostats are another item that will vary based on your home's current HVAC situation. If you already have a central air conditioning system, then you can easily hook your new unit up to your existing thermostats. Homes without a current air conditioner will require new wiring from the condenser to the thermostats. This work should always be performed by an electrician or HVAC professional.
If you do need to run new wiring, then this may be the perfect time to consider your thermostat placement. Moving your thermostat or thermostats to more central locations (and away from vents, windows, etc.) can significantly increase your home's cooling and heating efficiency.
3. Consider Alternatives
If you're retrofitting AC into an older home, then traditional duct-based central air systems are not your only option. Mini-split units offer many of the same advantages, but without the need for new ductwork. Mini-split units can be an especially good option if you want zone cooling since multiple interior units can run from a single outdoor condenser unit.
A properly maintained and sized air conditioning system can last for a decade or more, making a new AC install a particularly long-term investment. Taking the right steps before you complete your installation will help to ensure that your home's new AC system can provide reliable comfort for many years to come.
If you're getting a new central AC system, talk to an HVAC contractor about how you can prepare today.