Three Good Reasons to Upgrade and Replace Your Air Conditioner



Choose a high-efficiency air conditioner

The moment an air conditioner fails is typically when you need it the most! So if your AC is not cooling your home, it's time to call your air conditioner contractor.

But despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you should replace your unit rather than repair it. Age, condition, and performance expectations are often three good factors to consider when deciding if you should replace your current AC unit.1

Repairs, Repairs, Repairs


Air conditioning repairs can be inconvenient, but continuous repairs can become expensive! Even with the help of a highly skilled HVAC contractor, an air conditioner may start to show its age.  To keep costs under control, you may want to establish a repair cost cutoff point - meaning that you will replace your air conditioner if repairs cost more than your set amount.  At that point, you may want to start researching new energy-efficient air conditioners.

How expensive does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? If a major piece of equipment fails or the repair cost is close to 1/2 the price a new air conditioner, it may be better to replace the system.2 Yet, you should always discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a better idea of repair costs and the predicted lifespan of your current AC unit.

Energy Efficiency


Who wouldn’t want to save money on their monthly energy bills? According to EnergyStar, your heating and cooling system may be responsible for up to half of your energy bill.  There could be many reasons for your high energy bills, but your air conditioning unit SEER rating, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, may a contributing factor. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the unit will use. Your professional or licensed technician should be able to let you know if a higher SEER unit is right for you.

SmarterHouse.org states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment. If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, you may save up to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.3

Energystar.gov’s online assessment tool can be used to compare your home's annual energy use to similar homes in your area. The site suggests that if your home scores below a five, “you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.”4

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets regional minimum energy efficiency standards for air conditioners. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.  

The Right Size for Cool Comfort


People often believe that “bigger is better.” But, when talking about your air conditioner, “bigger” can be bad. An air conditioner shouldn’t be too big or too small; it has to be just the right size to cool your home efficiently.

When sized and installed properly, an air condition unit typically reaches maximum energy efficiency within a few minutes after starting up.  But if cycle times are shortened, and the unit continuously turns on and off, it may not hit peak efficiency.  Oversized air conditioner units can create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house is cool. This can end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit, affect your indoor comfort level, and influence your overall energy costs.

Your home’s layout, ventilation system, and building materials play a major role in determining the proper tonnage needed to cool your home. An air condition unit is measured in tonnage, but it’s not based on the actual weight of the equipment. A ton measures your air conditioner’s ability to cool. In case you really want to know:

One ton = the ability to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) in an hour

It sounds strange, but your AC’s tonnage may be different from your neighbor’s home with the same square footage. Your home’s details should be evaluated by your licensed or professional technician at when sizing your air conditioner.   “A right-sized air conditioner is an important part of an energy-efficient home and will result in improved comfort, durability, and lower utility bills.”5

If your current aging air conditioner is the wrong size, the SEER rating is low, and it requires multiple or high-dollar repairs, you may want to consider replacing your system! To find out if your current central cooling system should be replaced, contact a local, independent HVAC contractor.

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1 Buying Tips. (2015). Retrieved from Smarterhouse: http://smarterhouse.org/cooling-systems/buying-tips
2 Repair or Replace. (n.d.). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm
3 Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning
4 When is it Time to Replace? n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers
5 EnergyStar. "RIGHT-SIZED AIR CONDITIONERS ." n.d. EnergyStar.gov. https://www.energystar.gov/ia/home_improvement/home_sealing/RightSized_AirCondFS_2005.pdf