Air-Conditioning Institute offers tips to prep central air units

ARLINGTON, Va.—As outdoor temperatures rise, many homeowners may be considering servicing or replacing their central air-conditioning units.

This year, the federal government has given homeowners one more thing to think about: a new seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER).

Jan. 23, a new government mandate took effect that raised the minimum efficiency standard for all newly manufactured central air-conditioners and heat pumps from 10 SEER to 13 SEER.

This 30 percent increase in efficiency could cut a homeowner’s energy use up to 55 percent when compared with most central air-conditioning more than 10 years old.

A central air-conditioning unit has two parts: an indoor coil unit and an outdoor condensing unit. These two parts are designed to work together as a coordinated team to provide maximum performance, efficiency and comfort. In central air-conditioning systems with a 13 SEER or higher rating, these two units need to be perfectly matched for the system to function properly.

Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) recommended homeowners ask their air-conditioning technician to confirm the outdoor condensing unit is perfectly matched with the indoor coil by showing them an ARI Reference Number. This number confirms the outdoor and indoor units are perfectly matched as an ARI Performance Certified system and assures homeowners the product they purchased will perform as stated by the manufacturer.

Homeowners can check if their system is perfectly matched by using the ARI Directory of Certified Product Performance where they can input their indoor and outdoor unit model numbers to find out if it is a matched system. The directory can be accessed online at

Homeowners also should look for the “ARI Performance Certified” seal on their air-conditioning unit or on accompanying sales literature. When they see this seal, it is an indication the product has been rigorously tested to assure the equipment will perform as stated by the manufacturer.

William G. Sutton, president of ARI, added: “We also recommend using a NATE (North American Technician Excellence)-certified technician. Homeowners can be assured these technicians have the experience and training to properly install their air-conditioning system. To find a local NATE-certified technician, go to

ARI is the trade association representing manufacturers of more than 90 percent of North American-produced central air-conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment.

From the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue

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