Heating and Cooling Checklist: What to Look for Before You Buy a New AC

May 05th, 2023
Couple looking at split system air conditioners in store

A well-functioning heating and cooling system is crucial for maintaining comfort and energy efficiency in your home.

To ensure you make the best decision when purchasing a new AC, it’s essential to do your research and tick every box.

That’s exactly what this article is here to help you do.

Our heating and cooling checklist will cover everything you need to consider before buying a new air conditioning unit or heater.

From assessing your current system to choosing a qualified installer, we’ll cover it all.

Heating and Cooling Buyers Checklist

1. Assess Your Current System 

The first step to buying a new AC is taking a look at your existing system (if you have one).

If your existing unit is 10 years old or older and is constantly breaking down, all while offering reduced heating and cooling performance, then it’s definitely time for a replacement.

Similarly, if your existing system isn’t very energy efficient, then it could be worth upgrading.

However, if this is the first time that your air conditioner has experienced problems and it’s in pretty good condition overall, then it might be cost-effective to repair it rather than replace it.

If you’re on the fence, check out these 13 signs that it’s time to replace your air conditioner.

Another good reason to assess your current system is to determine what you will and won’t like about your new unit.

Maybe you want to switch from an AC that covers one room to a system that covers the whole home.

Perhaps your existing unit was always too noisy and you want to prioritise quiet operation.

Maybe you really like the remote control on your current unit and want to look for a system with the same or similar interface.

If you already have a separate heating system, maybe you just want a new air conditioner. And if you’ve already got a separate cooling system, maybe you just want a new heater. Or maybe you want a combined heating and cooling system in one.

2. Determine Your Heating and Cooling Needs

Cold couple sitting on the couch wearing winter coats with furry hoods

Now that you’ve reflected on your current system, you can think specifically about what you need from a new heating and cooling unit.

Specifically, you need to calculate the size and heating/cooling capacity required for your home or business.

Determining the exact size and output you need from an air conditioner can be a pretty complex task, but generally speaking, here are the things you need to consider:

    • Climate: Here in Melbourne, summers are usually hot and dry while winters are cool but not nearly as cold as in other parts of the country/world. You won’t have to worry as much about extreme humidity or extreme cold when buying an AC in Melbourne, but these days can occur on the fringe and may affect the performance of some heating and cooling units.
    • Insulation: How well insulated is your home? Do you have large, uncovered windows, and are there gaps between doors, windows, and floors? The better sealed and insulated your property is, the less work a heating and cooling system will have to do. You shouldn’t buy an oversized AC to compensate for poor insulation, but rather, you should insulate and seal efficiently so you can get the right-sized system.
    • Orientation: How is your home oriented in relation to the sun? If your main living and sleeping areas get more afternoon sun, you might need greater cooling capacity in summer to compensate for the extra heat.
    • Room size/property size: The larger the room/property, the greater the heating or cooling capacity required. You can learn more about finding the correct size air conditioner here.
    • Central or Space: Central heating and cooling can warm up or cool down your entire property at once. Space heating or cooling is designed for a single room. Think about how much of your property you will be using at any one time and make your decision accordingly.

    3. Research and Compare Air Conditioning Types

    Now that you’ve considered your general needs, it’s time to get into specific system types, brands, and models.

    Here are the main contenders to consider:

    Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Units

    If you want heating and cooling from one system, then reverse cycle air conditioners are by far the best option.

    Utilising heat pumps, these units boast up to 600% energy efficiency, which far outperforms other options on the market.

    Whether you want climate control in one room or your whole home, these systems can deliver. Choose between ducted reverse cycle heating and cooling or reverse cycle split systems in MelbourneSplit systems (or ductless systems) combine an indoor unit and an outdoor unit while ducted systems replace the indoor unit with concealed ducts and sleek vents.

    To find out whether ducted or split reverse cycle is best for you, click here.

    Refrigerated or Evaporative Air Conditioning

    After reverse cycle systems, the next most popular options are refrigerated air conditioning and evaporative cooling in Melbourne.

    Both of these air conditioners are cooling-only systems, so they’re not appropriate if you’re also looking for a heater.

    Evaporative coolers are ducted systems that can naturally cool your entire property. They are preferred by people who want to be able to keep their windows open and those who prioritise eco-friendly cooling. However, they don’t work as well on really humid days.

    Refrigerated air conditioning units are usually ducted, but you can also buy cooling-only split systems that utilise refrigerated cooling technology. These units provide more precise and powerful cooling that works well even on humid days, so they’re preferred by anyone who wants to get the most from their AC. However, doors and windows must be kept shut during operation.

    To find out whether refrigerated or evaporative is best for you, click here.

    Gas Ducted Heating with Add-On Cooling

    Gas ducted heating remains an incredibly popular option in Melbourne, although reverse cycle systems are coming for its crown.

    As the name suggests, these systems are both central air conditioners and heating-only options, so they’re only appropriate if that’s what you are looking for.

    However, if you consider it ahead of time, you can implement add-on cooling at the same time or at a later date. This allows you to have a central air conditioning system that uses the same ducts as your gas heating.

    Gas Space Heaters and Gas Log Fires

    Gas log fires and gas space heaters are designed to heat just the room they are located in, with no cooling capacity.

    Generally speaking, you’re better off getting a reverse cycle split system if you want space heating, as these units also come with air conditioning and offer greater heating capacity.

    However, if you want an aesthetic centrepiece in your room that also doubles as a heater, a gas log fire is a good option. 

    Hydronic Heating

    Hydronic heating is Melbourne’s most unique heating option. Unlike the most common types of AC, these units use hot water rather than hot air to warm the home. Hot water is delivered to towel rails, trench convectors, radiator panels, underfloor heating systems and more to warm these surfaces and create radiant heat in the home. 

    Hydronic heating can be installed in one room or the whole home, but it’s often best left for new builds as the installation process can be complex. Cooling may also be available through hydronic systems.

    4. Understand Energy Efficiency Ratings

    No matter which type of air conditioner you choose, it’s essential to select an energy-efficient system.

    Luckily, Australia’s energy rating system is easy to understand. Every heating and cooling appliance you look at should have a label with an energy star rating and energy consumption information.

    The more stars your appliance has, the less energy it will use and the more you will save on energy bills. Lower power consumption also means a more environmentally friendly air conditioner. 

    The energy consumption information lists energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This number can be used to easily compare AC models of all sizes. The fewer kWh consumed, the better!

    5. Consider Features and Functionality

    These days, heaters and air conditioners come with a wide range of features. Some key functions and additional features to consider include:

      • Zoning: Allows you to heat and cool areas of your home separately when you have a ducted system – great for energy efficiency and cost savings.
      • Sensors: Detects when there is/isn’t activity in the room and adjusts heating and cooling accordingly. Smart sensors can also adjust based on temperature levels.
      • Wi-Fi and Smartphone Control: Allows you to control your AC from anywhere and everywhere.
      • Air purifiers: Improves indoor air quality, fights odours, bacteria, pollen, and more!
      • Timers: Set your system to automatically switch on/off at any time. A common feature of programmable thermostats/smart thermostats.
      • Inverters: Allows your system to power up and slow down gradually for eco-friendly operation.
      • Modes: Including eco-mode, quiet mode, night-time mode, and turbo mode.
      • Self-Diagnosis: Analyses, diagnoses, and helps you to resolve system issues.
      • R32 Refrigerant: If your unit uses refrigerant, choose R32, the most eco-friendly option on the market.
      • Self-Cleaning: Automatic system cleaning when your system switches on/off.

      6. Investigate Reputable Air Conditioning Brands

      Whether you want ducted air conditioning in Box Hill, split air conditioning in Rowville, or hydronic heating in Balwyn, our team can recommend the best brands.

      Some of the leading heating and cooling brands in Australia include:

        7. Budget and Financing Options

        Person budgeting: Calculator and paper and pen on desk

        Different types of air conditioners will vary in price depending on the type, brand, and features.

        Average costs for the supply and installation of a single split system may be around $2000, while a full ducted unit with multiple outlets can cost $10,000 or more.

        While energy-efficient models may have a higher upfront cost, they can provide long-term cost savings through reduced energy consumption.

        There are also Buy Now Pay Later options in many cases, with 6 months interest-free through Australian Climate Systems.

        8. Choose a Qualified Installer

        Professional air conditioning installation is critical for optimal performance and warranty protection of your new heating and cooling system.

        To find a reputable and qualified air conditioning installer in your area, ask for recommendations from friends, family, or online reviews. Additionally, ensure your installer provides regular maintenance and servicing to keep your new AC system running efficiently and prolong its lifespan.

        Australian Climate Systems Can Help You

        Purchasing a new heating and cooling system is a significant investment, so it’s essential to thoroughly research and consider your options before making a decision.

        Use this heating and cooling checklist as a guide to ensure you select a well-suited, energy-efficient AC system that will provide increased comfort and cost savings for your home.

        For further advice and help finding the best solution for your property, chat with Australian Climate Systems. Our team can supply, install, and service your new heating and air conditioning system so it lasts for years to come. 

        Call 03 9726 4444 or view our current specials.

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