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Central Air Conditioners: Ratings of Sources

Total of 15 Sources
1. EnergySavers.gov
As of June 2013
Energy Star Most Efficient 2013 -- Central Air Conditioners and Air Source Heat Pumps
by Editors of EnergyStar.gov
Our AssessmentThe Energy Star program is a joint effort of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to help Americans save energy. Products bearing the Energy Star label must exceed federal energy efficiency standards while still delivering the features and performance that consumers demand. The agencies say the central air conditioners on this list are the most efficient of all those that received an Energy Star-rating for 2013. However, it's not always clear how they were selected, since some models on the list beat out others with a higher SEER. The article also lists the basic features of each model.
2. ConsumerReports.org
May 2012
Central Air Conditioning Reliability
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentConsumerReports.org does not test central air conditioners, but it does evaluate the reliability of different brands based on a survey of its readers. In the latest survey, more than 40,000 readers who bought central air conditioning units between 2005 and mid-2011 reported on whether they needed repairs. Of the 10 brands listed, most have repair frequencies between 11 and 13 percent. However, three brands perform significantly worse, with repair frequencies of 17 percent or higher. The article also lists general tips on getting the most out of your central air conditioner.
3. Bestcovery.com
March 13, 2012
Best Air Conditioner
by Cecilia Harsch
Our AssessmentCecilia Harsch, a former big-box store manager, presents her top five picks for the best central air conditioner. Harsch says the models were selected based on their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and "consistent cooling capabilities," though there's nothing to indicate that these units have been subjected to hands-on testing. Each model receives a one-paragraph write-up summarizing its features, capacity, energy use and warranty information.
4. Home-Tech.com
As of June 2013
Best of Air Conditioning -- 2013 Best AC Systems
by Editors of Home-Tech.com
Our AssessmentHome-Tech.com is an appliance-repair company in Southwest Florida. In this article, Home-Tech staff present their picks for the best central air conditioners of 2013, based on "price, performance, warranty and durability." However, they do not specify their testing methods.
5. WebHVAC.com
As of June 2013
Top Rated Central Air Conditioners 2013
by Editors of WebHVAC.com
Our AssessmentWebHVAC.com is a site run by a group of former HVAC contractors that "covers just about everything to do with HVAC equipment in your home, business, or environment." The editors draw on their background in this field to evaluate and choose the 10 "best central air conditioners for 2013." However, the reviews are brief, focusing on features rather than performance. There's no mention of either hands-on testing or consumer surveys to explain what makes these air conditioners better than other models on the market.
6. ConsumerReports.org
April 2012
Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentThis buying guide provides some general background information on the process of shopping for a central air conditioner. It covers such topics as types of central air conditioners, size, efficiency, choosing a contractor and maintaining the system you have. There's no information here on specific brands or models, but there is a link to a separate report on central air conditioner reliability.
7. ACEEE.org
December 2012
Air Conditioning
by Editors of ACEEE.org
Our AssessmentThe American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency. Its website has a wealth of information relating to energy-efficient appliances and government tax incentive programs. This page provides advice on how to reduce your need for air conditioning, find a good contractor, choose a new air conditioning system and keep your air conditioner running efficiently. However, it does not evaluate or compare specific brands or models.
8. Energy.gov
May 30, 2012
Central Air Conditioning
by Editors of Energy.gov
Our AssessmentThis government guide explains how central air conditioning works, how to select a new air conditioning system for your home and how to ensure proper installation. Links at the bottom lead to separate articles about maintaining your air conditioner and troubleshooting common problems. It's a very reasonable starting point for learning about technology and buying considerations, but it has no information about brands and no comparative guidance.
9. GreenBuildingAdvisor.com
Feb. 26, 2010
Musings of an Energy Nerd: Air Conditioner Basics
by Martin Holladay
Our AssessmentThis article, by builder and self-described "energy nerd" Martin Holladay, is basically a FAQ about air conditioners. It answers such basic questions as "What's a SEER rating?" and "What's the difference between the condenser and the compressor?" Although it does not evaluate specific air conditioner models or brands, it's a great starting point for a beginner to learn more about how air conditioners work.
Consumer Resources
by Editors of ACCA.org
Our AssessmentThe Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a professional association with more than 60,000 air conditioning professionals as members. Their website provides useful information for consumers: How to choose the right contractor (including a locator tool), rebates for energy efficiency, maintenance, and ways to maximize efficiency and comfort. One highlight is the Quality HVAC Installation worksheet, which helps homeowners evaluate contractor bids. However, this site does not evaluate brands or models.
11. FurnaceCompare.com
As of June 2013
Central Air Conditioners
by Editors of FurnaceCompare.com
Our AssessmentFurnaceCompare.com has the largest collection of owner reviews for central air conditioners on the web. Reviews are sorted by brand, and the site ranks brands from best to worst based on the average rating they receive from consumers. However, most of these user reviews do not mention specific model numbers, so we weren't able to get any information about which particular models perform best. The site also has some good general information on topics like choosing an air conditioner, dealing with contractors and maintenance.
12. ENERGYSTAR.gov
Jan. 1, 2009
Air Conditioning, Central -- for Consumers
by Editors of EnergyStar.gov
Our AssessmentThis guide provides information about Energy Star standards for central air conditioners. The most useful section here is the FAQ, which provides details about current federal tax credits for Energy Star-rated air conditioners. The site also gives some background information on home cooling costs, maintenance and choosing a contractor to install a new AC system.
13. Pacific Gas and Electric
Not dated
AC Quality Installation
by Editors of PGE.com
Our AssessmentThis guide from a California utility company advises consumers on how to choose the right central air conditioner and make sure it is properly installed. Topics include selecting a contractor, sizing your AC system to fit your home, energy efficiency ratings for air conditioners, and complying with state and local building codes. The guide does not discuss air conditioner brands or models.
14. eBay.com
Not dated
Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide
by "History-bytes"
Our AssessmentThis short how-to-buy article includes some good tips not found in other sources, such as how to bargain with contractors and how to spot a crooked contractor. The writer, who goes by the name "history-bytes," appears to be knowledgeable. However, this individual does not mention any specific qualifications as an expert on home heating and cooling. Although "history-bytes" is an experienced eBay seller with a high feedback rating, this person's listings generally focus on history, not HVAC.
15. HVACAdvice.com
As of June 2013
Tips and Resources
by Editors of HVACAdvice.com
Our AssessmentNorth American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the leading certification body for HVAC/R technicians. Its webpage discusses the advantages of hiring a NATE-certified contractor and provides a locator tool for finding a contractor in your area. Other tips and resources on the site include definitions of common abbreviations like SEER, a checklist for dealing with a repairperson and an energy savings calculator.
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