Learn about your Central Air Conditioning

The basics: how your central air conditioning works

A traditional home comfort system has two parts: an indoor unit, such as a furnace or air handler, and an outdoor unit. An air conditioner is the outdoor unit that cools air and sends it to the indoor unit to be circulated through your home. The indoor and outdoor units are designed to work together, and when the air conditioner is properly matched with a furnace or air handler, the result is maximum efficiency and extended system life.

The air conditioning part of your "split system" includes a compressor, a fan, condenser coil, evaporator coil and a refrigerant. The system extracts heat from indoor air and transfers it outside, leaving the cooled indoor air to be recirculated. Air conditioning and cooling efficiency is measured using a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A higher SEER signifies higher energy efficiency.

The basic components of an air conditioning system:

  • A Condensing Unit (the outdoor section) 
  • A matching indoor Air Handler or Gas Furnace with coil
  • Ductwork to transfer the cooled air throughout the home

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Frequently-Asked Questions 

Q: My air conditioning system isn't cooling very well. Should I replace it? 

A: You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today's systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the efficiency of the system.

Q: How expensive is central air conditioning?

A: Many factors affect the cost of a heating or air conditioning system, including the size of your home, the type and condition of the ductwork installed and accessories you might need such as a thermostat or an electronic air cleaner. PSE&G offers a complete range of systems and accessories available to meet your needs.


Q: What should I look for in an air conditioning system?

A: First, the unit should be properly sized to provide enough cooling for your home. PSE&G can provide a load calculation for your home if you aren't sure. Next, consider comfort issues in the home. New products can reduce uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, look for systems that filter your home's air as it circulates. Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed.

Q: How long can I expect a new system to last?

A: Industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less).

Q: What is involved in replacing an old system?

A: Aside from the placement of the new equipment, your installer should inspect the other items in your air conditioning system, such as: ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil.

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Need new central air conditioning? 

PSE&G will replace your old air conditioning system with quality York and Honeywell products. We offer an easy payment plan, with no money down and monthly payments right on your PSE&G bill.

For a free replacement estimate Call 1-800-240-3609 or find out more on our Central Air Conditioning Replacement webpage.

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A glossary of air conditioning terms 



Here are some terms that you might hear when doing research into your air conditioning system:

Air Handler - The portion of the system that moves heated or cooled air throughout a home's ductwork.

Balance Point - An outdoor temperature, usually between 30° F and 45° F, at which a heat pump's output exactly equals the heating needs of the home. Below the balance point, supplementary electric resistance heat is needed to maintain indoor comfort.

Btu - British thermal unit. The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water (about one pint) by one degree F.

Evaporator Coil - The portion of a heat pump or central air conditioning system that is located in the home and functions as the heat transfer point for warming or cooling indoor air.

Outdoor Coil/Condensing Unit - The portion of a heat pump or central air conditioning system that is located outside the home and functions as a heat transfer point for collecting heat from and dispelling heat to the outside air.

SEER - Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A measure of an air conditioner's cooling efficiency. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the product. The government's established minimum SEER rating for air conditioners is 10.

Split System - A heat pump or central air conditioning system with components located both inside and outside the home. The most common design for home use.

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