Air conditioning systems don’t last forever. If your system runs constantly throughout the spring and summer, the constant wear and tear will add up. Maintenance, too, is key. Scheduled, comprehensive maintenance can extend the life of your system; without it, your system may fail prematurely.
Generally speaking, most of us can expect our air conditioning systems to last about 15 years (and we should budget accordingly). But how will you know when it’s the right time to replace that old system with a new one? Answer these questions, and you’ll have a much better idea.
How old is your air conditioner?
This is the most important question. Air conditioning systems can stop being efficient before they stop working entirely. Any system that’s more than ten years old will be substantially less efficient and costlier to run than a new system. While you may want to put of the cost of replacing your system, you’ll be spending more on energy in the meantime – somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% more.
What’s your air conditioner’s SEER value – and what should it be?
The SEER (or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) value indicates the efficiency of your system; the higher the value, the more efficient. This value makes it easier to compare your system to a new one, and to project operating costs. Keep in mind that the most efficiency isn’t necessarily the best option. With added efficiency comes added cost. Consider meeting with an expert heating and air conditioning technician to learn what SEER value would best meet the needs of your budget and your home.
Is that energy bill getting bigger?
As mentioned above, systems become less efficient over time. The SEER value of your air conditioner may no longer be as high as it was when your unit was new. How can you tell if your system is losing efficiency? Take a look at your energy bills. Are you paying a lot more than you did last summer or the one before? If you are, you’re seeing a strong indicator that your air conditioner is having to work harder and harder to keep you cool. And that’s costing you money.
Are you paying too much for repairs?
With age and constant use, air conditioning systems and components wear out and require repair or replacement. As a system nears the end of its lifespan, you’ll get less use out of each repair. If you need to repair or replace an expensive component (such as an evaporator or compressor), you should weigh this cost against the cost of a new system. You may find that replacing your air conditioner a year early is smarter than paying for a short-term fix.
No one wants to pay for a new air conditioner earlier than necessary. But if your current system is inefficient or expensive to run and maintain, you may discover that now is the right time to invest in a new air conditioning system. Consider getting an inspection and advice from a local air conditioning expert before you make any decisions.