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New Air Conditioners: A Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to improving the energy efficiency of your home, a new air conditioning system in Fairfax, VA is one of the best investments you can make. New air conditioners are better designed, more efficient, and less prone to maintenance problems than units produced just a few years ago. Because new AC purchases only come around once every 10 years or so, you’ll want to get the most for your money.

closeup of tools on top of an HVAC unit

Here are a few factors to consider in the purchase of a new AC unit:


Before you invest in a new air conditioner, it’s a good idea to call a professional HVAC service for an energy audit of your home. During your energy audit, a technician will conduct a blower door test, take thermographic images, and examine individual components of your HVAC system to find out where your home is losing energy. He or she will then recommend energy-efficient solutions such as air duct sealing and the installation of more insulation.


Air conditioners come in a range of designs. The most common is the standard split system, in which refrigerant circulates between an outdoor condenser and an indoor coil. An alternative to the split system is the heat pump system. In the summer, these systems discharge heat from a house into the outside air—while performing the same function in reverse during the winter. Finally, split-ductless systems operate in a similar way to standard split systems, but they are used to cool rooms individually. These systems are a good option for home additions where expanding ductwork can be too costly.

Efficiency Ratings

The standard efficiency rating for air conditioners is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. Today, all new air conditioning systems must meet a minimum SEER of 13. Older systems found in many households are rated as low as SEER 9. Upgrading your old AC unit to a SEER 13 would provide energy savings of more than 30 percent. Choosing a unit rated at SEER 16 or higher could enhance these savings even further. Some ductless systems can approach a SEER 30 or higher—but these are more costly than standard central air models.


When it comes to choosing an air conditioner, size is an important consideration. Air conditioners that are too large can waste energy and leave a room feeling damp. When an air conditioner is too small, rooms will not be cooled adequately and a unit will need to work harder, limiting its lifespan. Working with an HVAC technician, you can find an air conditioning appropriately sized to your home in Fairfax.

Have you recently purchased a new air conditioner or have questions on what kind to purchase for your home? Call McCarthy at (703) 924-1650 or schedule an appointment online today for a free new installation consultation.

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