By now, most of us are ready for a break from the cold and snow, but are you ready for those hot summer temperatures? Now is the time to be thinking about your old air conditioner, before the heat catches you off guard.
You may be wondering if your air conditioner still has enough life to get you through another season, or if it’s time for a new one. There are several things to consider when making that determination:
1.The age of the unit.
Energy Star recommends replacing an air conditioner that is 10 or more years old. Many HVAC professionals recommend replacing units after 15 years. Newer models are much more energy efficient, which can result in substantially lower operating costs as well as improved performance.
2.The nature of the repair.
If your A/C requires additional coolant, it may have a leak. Fixing the leak and replacing several pounds of coolant can cost $500 to $1000. A coolant leak is also an indication that the compressor will soon go out.
3. Operating costs vs. performance
Are you repairing your A/C often, yet it still does not cool your home sufficiently? Are your energy bills rising? Energy Star estimates that newer units can save 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. In addition to being more energy efficient, new units often include programmable thermostats, which allow you to run your A/C only when someone is home.
4. How long you plan to stay in your home.
If you expect to own your home for a long time, and both your utility bills and the cost of a repair are high, it may make sense to purchase a new air conditioner.
5.Your cooling system is noisy or you have excessive dust.
A noisy A/C could indicate that your duct system is undersized or that there is a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. Excessive dust can mean a leak in your ductwork. An HVAC professional can determine if repair or replacement of your ductwork is warranted, either instead of replacing your A/C mechanicals, or in conjunction with installing a new system.
6. How well insulated is your home?
Poor insulation can make your cooling (and heating) system work harder and less efficiently. Addressing leaks throughout your home may allow your current air conditioner to work adequately.
7. Size of your A/C.
If the current unit in your home is undersized, that could be the reason it is not cooling sufficiently. Similarly, replacing an older unit with a new one that is too big will result in higher costs and inefficient operation due to more frequent on/off cycling. Make sure your HVAC contractor includes a load calculation with a computer printout (not just a ballpark estimate) to be sure you are choosing a unit that is the correct size for your space.