What to look for in a Central Air Conditioner

Did you know that the average high July temperature in Ventura County is over 80 degrees?

If you live in Ventura County, you may not be sweltering every summer—but you’re definitely still going to feel the heat.

That’s why so many homeowners in this area decide to invest in a central air conditioner. But shopping around for one isn’t always easy. It can be hard to tell when you’re looking at a good match for your home and when someone is just trying to upsell you.

Picking the best central air conditioner isn’t that hard once you know what to look for. Read on to learn more about finding the best central AC for your home.


What to look for in a Central Air Conditioner

Central air conditioners are available for every kind of home. That includes one-room shacks and multi-story mansions.

So how do you find a good match for your home? Stop googling “what size central air conditioner do I need.” Instead, look at these traits.



Your central air conditioner’s “size” actually refers to its cooling power, not how big the unit is. A unit’s size is described as Btu’s per hour. A good HVAC contractor will conduct a load calculation to determine the best unit size for your house.

This load calculation is more sophisticated than simply eyeballing your home’s square footage. While the home’s size matters, the calculation should also account for ductwork, insulation, and the home’s layout.

A central AC that’s too small won’t provide the cooling you need. But don’t overcompensate and get more central air conditioning than you need, either. Oversized units tend to go through on/off cycles rapidly, leading to high energy bills and quick system breakdown.



Heating and cooling equipment is the single biggest energy consumer in the average American home. That means even small efficiency improvements in your central AC can translate to big energy savings. There are two things to check when determining a unit’s efficiency.

SEER Rating

All units on the marketplace have a SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio compares a unit’s cooling output over the summer to its energy consumption during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating, the more efficiently it uses energy.

Most modern units have a SEER rating of 13 or 14. Because AC technology has come a long way in a short time, that’s a lot better than older units’ typical ratings of 8 or 9.

You can buy units with SEERs as high as 21. Remember that SEER is the unit’s highest possible efficiency. It may perform less efficiently from day to day depending on conditions.

Energy-Saving Features

Many AC units feature energy-saving features on top of high SEER ratings.

Units may feature a large number of speed settings to move between their on/off cycles more efficiently. They may use advanced refrigerants. Some use refrigerant control systems to lower refrigerant flow when you need less cooling power.

Automatic fan delays ensure your unit blows its cool air fully into the house before switching off. This avoids wasting cooling power on air stuck in ducts.



A good central air conditioner usually requires occasional maintenance. You may need to clean debris from outdoor units or change used filters. But a quality unit doesn’t break down much when it’s cared for correctly.

Read reviews on your unit before purchasing to make sure it doesn’t have a reputation for unexpected breakdowns. Some units, such as those with changeable filters, need small amounts of regular maintenance to function properly. Make sure the maintenance needs match your lifestyle before committing to a unit.


Programmable (Smart) Thermostats

Programmable—or “smart”—thermostats can change how you use your AC system. Those changes not only make the unit more efficient but increase your home comfort.

Many let you schedule different temperatures across the day to reflect when you’re home. They may let you change settings remotely using a phone app. Some use sensors that measure temperatures from many locations in the home, instead of just around the thermostat. Some even use motion detectors to turn cooling on when you come near.



A central air conditioner isn’t a small investment, so make sure you’re covered in the event of an unexpected breakdown.

Most manufacturers offer a five-to-ten-year warranty on key unit components. Many contractors will also agree to a labor warranty to help you address any installation mistakes.


The Right HVAC Contractor

Choosing a contractor is practically as important a decision as choosing a unit.

Your contractor will play a big role in guiding your unit choice and making appropriate load calculations. The quality of their installation work affects how efficiently your unit runs and its future maintenance needs. And of course, their price points can vary dramatically.

What are the signs of a good HVAC contractor?

They should be properly licensed and have plenty of experience under their belt. They should offer a good labor warranty. They should come with plenty of references and good reviews.

They should care about efficiency and helping you find rebates. They should charge a fair price for high-quality work. Don’t accept anything less.


Find Your Perfect Central Air Conditioner Today

Why do we have strong opinions about what makes someone the “right” HVAC contractor?

Because those are our core values at Kaiser Air Conditioning. We have forty years of experience serving the Ventura County area. As a community-based business, we seek to give you excellent service and earn your future HVAC business.

Summer is getting closer every day, which means those eighty-degree July afternoons are getting closer, too. Act now to get a modern, efficient central air conditioner installed ahead of time. Contact us to learn more.