Air conditioning needs can be divided into two categories: equipment servicing and equipment purchasing. When having equipment serviced inquire about additional charges (such as travel charges) prior to servicing; ask if technicians are paid on an hourly or commissioned basis. Consider annual servicing to prevent future problems.
The purchase of an air-conditioning system involves both cooling capacity and efficiency. The system must be correctly sized for the home; an air-conditioning contractor or the local utility company can provide information about the appropriate size for your home. The system's efficiency is expressed in its "SEER" rating, which indicates the amount of cooling per watt of electricity used. The higher the "SEER," the more efficient the unit. The availability of ductwork and electricity will also affect the overall cost of installation. Altering or installing ductwork or rewiring to handle the additional electrical load can substantially increase the final cost.
When purchasing a new air system be sure to get two or more bids. Make sure bids are comparable in terms of equipment and services. Ask for local references and inspect finished work. Be sure that the firm is licensed; The license number should be clearly marked on the service truck. Many air conditioning firms offer service contracts covering annual inspections and emergency repairs. Before purchasing such a contract, compare existing warranty coverage with the service contract you are considering; don't pay for the same coverage twice.