Buying an air conditioner is an investment you’ll want to make carefully. You should be able to rely on your new cooling equipment to keep you comfortable throughout Nebraska’s hot summers for years to come, so it pays to make sure you get the right size and learn the best way to maintain it.
As home comfort pros who have performed countless AC installations, repairs, and tune-ups throughout Lincoln and the surrounding communities, our team is here to help. Read on to learn more about how air conditioners work, what to consider when purchasing one (including its size), and find answers to frequently asked questions about the process.
How Does An Air Conditioner Work?
Air conditioners use a chemical called refrigerant to transfer heat out of the air in your home and move it outdoors. We’ve explained the basics below.
The Cooling Cycle Explained:
- Refrigerant enters your AC’s compressor as a low-pressure gas
- The compressor squeezes the refrigerant until it’s pressure and temperature both rise
- The refrigerant enters your AC’s condenser, where it becomes a high-pressure liquid by releasing its heat outside the home
- The liquid refrigerant travels to the expansion valve, where it can release its pressure (this makes its temperature even lower)
- The cool, liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator to absorb heat from your home’s air until it vaporizes and becomes a low-pressure gas again
- The refrigerant then enters the compressor, and the cycle starts fresh
What to Consider When Buying an Air Conditioner
Air conditioners all use the process and components described above, but they can have different capabilities—largely determined by their size and intended application. Buying the right air conditioner for your home lets you enjoy cost-effective comfort whenever the weather turns warm, so it’s important to think about these things up front.
Air Conditioner Size
“Size” refers to your AC’s cooling capacity, and is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units). Broadly speaking, the more BTU your air conditioner produces, the larger the space it can cool efficiently—but there are numerous other factors at play as well, which we’ll cover in the next section.
The best way to know what size of air conditioner your home needs is to call us and let us perform a heat load calculation (also known as a Manual-J). This is an extensive and detailed process that takes a wide variety of factors into account to accurately determine your home’s heating and cooling needs—it’s an essential part of buying a new air conditioner or furnace, and can only be undertaken by qualified professionals like us.
Other Factors that Can Affect Your AC’s Efficiency in Nebraska
Your AC’s size isn’t the only factor that will determine how efficiently it can cool your space. When you call us to recommend an air conditioner that fits your home’s needs, we’ll also take into account things like:
- How much sunlight and shade your property receives
- Your home’s insulation and siding (different kinds can trap heat differently)
- How many windows your home has, what direction they face, and their energy efficiency
- How many heat-generating appliances you have in your home and where they are
Like most of the Midwest, Nebraska has deeply cold winters and particularly hot summers—meaning you might need an air conditioner with slightly more cooling capacity than you would for summers in other states. We’ll help you figure this all out when you call.
Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Air Conditioners in Nebraska
Should I Get Central AC or Ductless Mini Split Systems?
Central AC uses a network of ducts to move cold air throughout your home, while ductless mini split systems are standalone units that usually mount to walls in individual rooms or hallways.
While ductless mini split systems can be an efficient solution in homes that have no ductwork and lack the space to add it, central air conditioning is generally the most cost-effective way to cool an entire home. This is because central AC only requires the purchase of a single unit and can be controlled through a single point (your thermostat) instead of needing to buy and operate multiple different pieces of equipment.
How Much Does a New AC Cost in 2023?
The cost of a new air conditioner in 2023 depends on:
- The air conditioner’s cooling capacity
- How accessible the installation location in your home is
- Whether your ductwork will need to be adjusted or upgraded during the installation
- Any additional features (air handlers, etc.) you are adding to your HVAC system during the installation
How Long Will Installing My New AC Take?
Every AC installation is different because every home is unique. The factors that affect how long your installation takes include:
- What kind of air conditioner we are installing (ductless mini-split or central AC)
- The ductwork that already exists in your home and whether more needs to be added (for central AC systems)
- The accessibility of the area where we’re installing your cooling equipment (cluttered or hard-to-reach places can drive up the time required)
- The model and cooling capacity of your new AC
Our team always strives to provide an accurate quote on how long installations will take, and many new AC installs take under a single business day. If we have reason to think your installation will take longer, we’ll let you know as soon as possible so you can prepare accordingly.
How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?
Most new AC models can be expected to last for 10-15 years, although some may last as long as 20 years with proper maintenance. It’s also important to use your new cooling equipment responsibly and avoid overworking it, especially during extreme temperature conditions. Most AC units are designed to operate efficiently in temperatures between 60°F to 90°F, although this will vary depending on the model.
If you’re concerned about running your AC unit in high temperatures, contact Star City for advice and our team will be happy to help. We also strongly recommend regular maintenance and service for your AC unit to ensure it operates efficiently, no matter what temperature it is outside.
What Maintenance Will I Have to Do on My Air Conditioner?
There’s not much you can do on your own to maintain your AC, short of changing the filter—which you should do every month during the cooling season to avoid efficiency issues. However, Star City provides AC tune-ups in Lincoln, NE that include all the essentials for keeping your AC healthy, like:
- Checking coolant levels
- Evaluating the condenser
- Checking electrical connections
- Testing the blower fan
- Lubricating all moving parts
- Temperature performance diagnostics
- Calibrating the thermostat and controls
- Checking the fan switch
- A comprehensive multi-point safety inspection
Our tune-ups start at just $208 and are the best way to identify signs of AC trouble so you can have them fixed before they become much larger and more expensive problems.
How Do I Know When My AC Needs Service?
Signs your air conditioner might need professional service include:
- Weak airflow
- Unusual sounds or vibrations
- Strange smells coming from the vents
- Water leaks or moisture near the unit
- High humidity levels despite the AC running
- Thermostat not functioning properly
- Steady increase in energy bills despite no change in usage
- Ice buildup on the evaporator coil or refrigerant lines
- Inconsistent or uneven cooling throughout the space
- Turning on and off frequently (short cycling)
Call us for help if you notice any of these issues, or if your AC is more than 10-15 years old and hasn’t been serviced in a long time. We’ll be able to recommend the most cost-effective way to make your home comfortable again.
Finding Trustworthy Service Partners for Your New AC in Nebraska
Use the information above as a starting point for planning the size of air conditioner you might need and preparing to care for it once you purchase it. To learn more about choosing a model that’s exactly right for you and your home’s other occupants, contact Star City Heating & Cooling and speak with a member of our team. We’ll be happy to make a recommendation, provide an accurate estimate, and start planning the best way to keep you cool long-term.