Thinking About Air Conditioner Replacement? Here’s What You Need to Consider
With the heaviest part of the cooling season drawing to a close for the year, you may be giving some serious thought to the performance of your air conditioner. If your cooling system hasn’t performed up to your expectations, it may be time for an air conditioner replacement. Air conditioner replacement isn’t an overly complex process, but it does involve careful consideration of several factors related to energy efficiency, equipment performance and overall system needs. Here’s a brief guide to why you may need an air conditioner replacement and what you should look for in your new cooling system.
Why Replace Your Air Conditioner?
The simplest answer to this question is that the air conditioner isn’t working like it should. A poorly functioning air conditioner can be affected by any one or more of the following factors:
- Age: The life span of a typical air conditioner is usually between 12 and 15 years. A well-maintained system in good condition can easily last even longer, so age should not be the only reason to go for an air conditioner replacement. Consider the system’s age in connection with other factors on this list.
- Decreased efficiency: Declines in air conditioner efficiency usually show up as unexplained spikes in your monthly energy bills. If you’re suddenly paying more for cooling, have the unit checked to see if it should be repaired or replaced.
- Poor performance: Failing air conditioners cannot easily keep up with indoor temperature demands and, in general, perform poorly. If it seems like your cooling system isn’t producing enough conditioned air, or if there are inconsistencies in cooling performance, check into the possibility of replacement.
- Increased need for repairs: Air conditioners tend to break down more often in the last two years before their final failure. If your cooling system has needed fixing more often, and if the total repair costs are approaching half the price of a new system, consider a replacement.
- Reduced indoor air quality and dehumidification: Beyond cooling, your air conditioner provides air filtration that improves indoor air quality and dehumidification that removes moisture from your indoor air. If either of these conditions seems to be worsening, you may need a new air conditioner.
The cooling efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps is measured by the unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. Air conditioners made after Jan. 23, 2006 must carry a SEER number of at least 13. Higher-efficiency models have SEER numbers ranging from 18 to the mid-20s, with higher numbers indicating better efficiency.
Energy-efficient cooling systems operate at a considerably reduced cost when compared to lower-SEER models. In many cases, your monthly cooling bills can be slashed by 40 to 50 percent. High-efficiency air conditioners can pay for themselves in monthly savings usually by about the halfway point of the system’s expected service life.
Installation and Maintenance
Air conditioner installation should be performed by a qualified HVAC professional. This is to make sure the equipment is installed properly and safely, ensuring the system works like it should, provides the amount of cooling required, and functions at the greatest level of efficiency.
Your HVAC contractor should make sure your air conditioner replacement is properly sized. Sizing means choosing an A/C that has enough power and functional capacity to produce the amount of cooling you prefer without being oversized for your home. As part of the sizing process, your HVAC tech should conduct a cooling load calculation on your home. A load calculation takes into account your home’s size and layout, in addition to particular construction features and thermal characteristics of the structure. The calculation indicates exactly how much cooling is needed to meet your comfort preferences. With this information, it’s relatively easy to choose the A/C that will work best for you. The load calculation should be performed using industry-standard techniques and guidance, foremost the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J “Residential Load Calculations.”
Remember, too, that regular preventive maintenance and air filter changes are the best things you can do to keep your air conditioner working properly and for the longest possible period of time. A professional maintenance appointment and tune-up should be performed at least annually, though for areas where A/C use is heavy, like Florida, a twice-yearly maintenance inspection is better.
We are a premier HVAC services contractor in much of Central Florida and the Gulf Coast. Contact us today at SSI for more information on air conditioner replacement and the factors that influence an effective and efficient air conditioner choice.
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