When is it Time to Replace your old A/C Unit?
As much as most people love summer, heat and humidity can make you miserable. The key is to have a reliable a/c unit. The question is, how do you know when is it time to replace your old a/c unit? Should you replace the unit, or should you repair it? Here are some tips to help you decide how to proceed.
- Energy Assessment
Have an energy assessment conducted to see if your home has any air leaks. This is a great idea because it will give you ideas on how to make your home more efficient in the summer and the winter. There are basic walkthrough assessments that can be completed with just a checklist. A more thorough assessment can be completed that uses a blower-door test to pressurize the house and detect energy leaks. If your a/c unit is struggling to keep up with your home’s demand, something as simple as sealing leaks may be the answer. Some utility companies offer rebates on energy assessments. Many states also offer rebates on work to make your home more energy efficient. Get in touch with an energy auditor to schedule the assessment.
- Age of Unit
Consider the age of your current unit when determining if you should repair or replace. Most units have a life of 15-20 years. If the unit is 15 or more years old, it may be time to replace it. Older units will probably cost more to repair just because there will be more to fix. They are also less efficient. Energy efficiency is measured by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and newer units can operate with up to 20 SEER. The lower the SEER number, the less efficient the unit is, and the more expensive to run. Consider researching the SEER number on your unit if you are having trouble deciding if you should replace or repair the unit. Older units also use R-22 as the refrigerant, which is less efficient and not good for the environment. Newer units use R410A, which is more efficient and safer for the environment. Finding older refrigerant like R-22 can be very difficult and expensive because the EPA is phasing out the use of R-22.
- Run Cycle
When looking at repairing versus replacing your a/c unit, think about how often you use the unit. If you live in the northern part of the country, and you only use the unit a few days or weeks out of the year, repairing the unit might be more cost efficient for you. A unit that is 15 years old but only runs 2-3 weeks a summer is not really 15 years old. However, if you live in the south, where a/c units work over time from early spring to late fall, a 15 year-old unit really is that old, and replacing it would probably be the best move.
Consumer Reports recommends that no repair should cost more than 50 percent of what a new unit will cost.
If you do decide it’s time for a new a/c unit, here are some things to consider when shopping for the best one.
What features does the unit have? Programmable thermostats are awesome because they allow you to program the unit so it will run and turn itself off, or make adjustments, without you having to be there. So if you go to work at 9 am everyday, it will turn off when you leave, and come back on just before you get home. This will save you money and make your life easier because it’s one less thing to remember. Some units also have features with compressors and fans that allow for better temperature and humidity control.
- Price and Efficiency
Models that are more energy-efficient will cost more upfront, but they will save you money in the long run. Check with the SEER rating to see how efficient the unit really is. Units that are highly rated for efficiency may also get you a rebate.
Make sure the unit you choose is the correct size for the area you have. If you have a unit that is too small, it will be working overtime to try to cover the area. This will shorten its lifespan and make it less efficient. A unit that is too big will provide too much cool air for the space, meaning you pay for air that you don’t need. Make sure the unit is installed by professionals to guarantee that it operates with maximum efficiency.
For more information about when to repair or replace your a/c unit, check out https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/mechanical-systems/is-it-time-to-upgrade-your-hvac