As we all know, a functioning air conditioner is essential to summer life around here in Texas. If your rental property’s older air conditioner is on death’s door, now is the time to start getting quotes for a new system. In this article, we’ll review how you should go about choosing a new air conditioner for your rental, what you need to consider, and why you should treat this new AC unit like an investment in your property’s future.
Determine what type of system you need
In most cases, “air conditioner” refers to a specific type of cooling system that features an outdoor condenser unit connected by a refrigerant line to an indoor blower and a network of ducts. However, there are other options you should consider before moving forward:
- Heat Pumps: In mild winter climates (like here!), many homes have heat pumps—two-in-one systems that work like an air conditioner in the summer and then heat the house in the winter. Superficially, heat pumps resemble air conditioners. If your property has a heat pump that needs replacement, you should replace it with another heat pump so that your renters can have year-round comfort.
- Ductless Systems: As the name states, these systems do not require ductwork to operate. Instead, these wall-mounted blowers can cool and heat rooms individually. This makes them perfect for historic homes without ducts, guest suites, and any room that could use more cooling and heating.
While less common in our area, there are also systems out there that combine air conditioners and furnaces into a hybrid package. Generally, you’ll want to replace whatever the property currently has. So, if your rental has an air conditioner and a separate furnace, you just need a new air conditioner.
Have a professional out to the property for a quote
An air conditioner that is too small for your rental’s square footage is going to have difficulty keeping up with its cooling demand. It will have to run continuously even to sniff the desired temperature set at the thermostat. However, contrary to popular belief, an oversized air conditioner isn’t much better. If your new AC unit is too large for your property, it will be unable to maintain a consistent temperature, and be continually starting and stopping (also known as short-cycling) as it runs. This all adds up to significant energy waste, without any added comfort for your tenants.
In other words, your rental needs an air conditioner that’s just the right size for your square footage, existing ventilation, number of windows, and more. A professional HVAC technician can take these measurements and then provide you with a quote on a new system in your budget. Even if you don’t end up buying from that technician, an estimate is a great place to start so that you can get all the information needed to find the right AC unit.
Invest in a quality system and installation
When it comes to air conditioners (and HVAC systems more generally), the time-honored adage “you get what you pay for” certainly has some truth to it. An air conditioner installation can range widely in price, depending on the type of system, the brand, and who is installing it.
Of these, the last item is especially important. Many long-term, expensive AC troubles start with improper installation. Even though it may cost a little more, make sure you hire a qualified technician from a reputable company to handle your new system install. Ask for references, read reviews, and check to see if the North American Technician Excellence program certifies their techs. It’s the premier training and certification system for HVAC technicians.
You need to think about your air conditioner as a 15-20 year investment in the property. As a property owner, you may not be paying the electric bill every month, but you will have to cover any repair costs. Buying a less efficient and less reliable system just because it’s a bit cheaper may turn out to be a penny-wise and a pound foolish. After all, two or three repairs over the lifespan of the system will easily eclipse that price difference.
If the cost of the air conditioner is a bit high, talk to your local HVAC companies about financing. Many AC manufacturers and dealers are now offering competitive financing offers, allowing you to stretch the upfront cost over several months and use your rental income to pay it off over time.
The last thing you want to be doing is trying to figure out what type of air conditioner the property needs when it’s hot and humid out, and the current AC unit is dead. Understandably, your renter will probably be upset about your procrastination. Instead, do your research and get quotes ahead of time if you know your air conditioner is on its way out. That way, you are prepared to act decisively and get it replaced at the first sign of trouble. If you want to cut time on finding the best air conditioner for your property, Real Property Management Alamo can help you out.
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