Reasons to Upgrade and Replace your Air Conditioner

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Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when your local, independent, HVAC dealer suggests that you replace your air conditioner. However, many homeowners often question when a replacement should supersede a repair. Age, condition, and performance expectations are often three good factors to consider when deciding if you should replace your current AC unit.1

The Cost of Repairs


Air conditioning repairs may be inconvenient, but continuous or frequently unplanned repairs can be 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.  If repairs are getting close to your cutoff point, you may want to start researching new energy-efficient air conditioners.

How costly does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? A good reference point could be when the cost to repair your current air conditioner is roughly 50% of the cost of a new air conditioner.  You may find that a new air conditioner could be less costly than the total spent on a series of repairs. Yet, you should always discuss repair vs. replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a better idea of necessary repairs and the predicted lifespan of your current AC unit.

Energy Efficiency


Although your indoor comfort may be important, no one likes to spend his or her hard-earned money on high energy bills. According to EnergyStar, your heating and cooling system may be responsible for up to half of your energy bill.2  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 is designed to use. Your professional or licensed technician should be able to tell you the SEER rating of your current air conditioner, and how your energy bills may benefit from a higher SEER unit. 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 energy-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


Bigger isn’t always better — especially when talking about your air conditioner.  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 conditioning 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 may create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house is cool. This may 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 size 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.

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


There are many elements that go into sizing an air conditioner for a particular house. The accurate AC tonnage for your home may be different from your neighbor’s home with the same square footage. When determining air conditioner sizing, your licensed professional HVAC dealer will evaluate the home’s details and utilize specialized calculations. “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 dealer. 

Amana brand Air Conditioners

1, 3 Buying Tips. 2015. <http://smarterhouse.org/cooling-systems/buying-tips>.
2 Air Conditioning. n.d. <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>
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