High Point summers are long and hot, and if operating your air conditioner nonstop is costing you an arm and a leg or leaving a lot to be desired in the comfort department, it may be time to think about a replacement. Cooling your home accounts for about 50 percent of summer utility bills, and replacing an aging air conditioner with a new, high-efficiency model can save you up to 20 percent on cooling costs. But purchasing and installing a new central A/C is a major investment, and getting the best deal on a new system is always a good thing.
Why Fall Is the Best Time to Buy
When you’re ready to replace, plan ahead and start shopping for a new A/C in the fall to get the best deals. After the summer rush, HVAC companies typically experience a period of chirping crickets while they’re waiting for the furnace season to pick up. During this time, they’re particularly inclined to offer specials on buying and installing a new central A/C. Taking advantage of the slow period can save you a bundle on a new system, and you’ll be ready to reap the savings the minute cooling season starts next spring.
Signs Your A/C Is Failing
If you aren’t sure whether you need a new cooling system, consider these signs that your home’s air conditioner will soon be breathing its last breath:
- It’s older than 10 years – Older systems are much less efficient than the newer high-efficiency models on the market today. The seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, is a measure of a system’s efficiency. Older air conditioners have a SEER of about 6, while new systems are required to have a SEER of at least 13. High efficiency models can have a SEER as high as 17, which can save you big bucks over the lifetime of the system.
- It needs frequent repairs – Air conditioners typically need a lot of repairs during their last two years of operation. If you’ve got your HVAC contractor on speed dial, it’s probably time to replace.
- It doesn’t do a good job of removing humidity – As air conditioners age, they may not effectively dehumidify the home, reducing indoor air quality. A high level of home humidity may be a sign that you need a new system.
- It doesn’t keep you as comfortable as it once did – If you have rooms that are particularly hot in the summer, or if you have hot spots in otherwise cool rooms, your system isn’t doing its job optimally, and it’s probably costing you a lot more for energy than it should.
Factors to Consider Before Shopping Around
The window for savings opportunities in the fall is fairly short, so knowing what you want from the get go will help speed things up. Here are five major factors you should consider when installing a new central A/C.
- Type of system – There are two types of central air conditioners: split systems and packaged systems. Split systems have two units — the evaporator coil is in the indoor unit, which may also house the furnace, while the condenser coil and compressor are located in the outdoor unit, which sits on a concrete slab next to your house. Packaged systems contain all of the components in one cabinet, which usually sits on the roof or on the ground.
- Size – An oversized air conditioner will fail sooner and will cost you more money to buy and operate. Before you select your new system, a reputable HVAC contractor will use the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J to determine the proper size you need based on factors like the size of your home, its position in relation to the sun, and the amount of wall and attic insulation in the home.
- Efficiency – High-efficiency models are more expensive, but they’ll save you money in the long term. Energy Star-qualified air conditioners are guaranteed to be the most efficient systems on the market, drawing on new technologies for optimum efficiency and longevity.
- Ductwork – Before installing a new central A/C, your contractor should inspect the ductwork to ensure it’s properly sized and in good enough condition to ensure the top efficiency of the new system. Damaged or leaky ducts reduce the efficiency of even the most efficient air conditioner.
For more expert advice about installing a new central A/C in your High Point home, please feel free to contact us at Logan Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric.
Written by Mark Hollingsworth
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