Timberline Blog

Is It Time to Replace Your Central Air Conditioner?

April 24, 2017 by Timberline

With summer fast approaching and temperatures begin to rise along the Colorado Front Range, homeowners will be turning on their AC units for the first time this season. If you live in a newer home, you probably don’t think much about flipping your thermostat from “heat” to “cool” since you most likely haven’t encountered any problems. But if you live in an older—10+ years—home, chances are you’re beginning to experience more frequent AC service repairs to keep it running. And, if repair bills are mounting up, you might even begin contemplating replacement. But what are the key factors in determining whether an air conditioner needs to be repaired or replaced?

home central air conditioner repair technician

Air Conditioning Replacement Warning Signs

As a homeowner, one of the hardest decisions you will have to make is if it’s time to replace your old central air conditioner. Even if costs of continuing to repair and operate an older, inefficient unit are mounting up, a new air conditioning system is a big investment. Ultimately a qualified HVAC contractor will have to answer that question, but there are signs that will help you make a decision.

Age of Your Air Conditioning System

The average life span of a well-maintained air conditioner is about 15 years. But the EPA and Department of Energy’s joint ENERGY STAR program recommend air conditioning systems older than 10 years be replaced. Older air conditioning systems also use R22 Freon refrigerant, which is being phased out over the next few years with the new refrigerant (R14A) to meet environmental protection regulations. Since R22 is being discontinued it is becoming much more expensive to replace. So if you’re having major problems with your air conditioner that requires more Freon, it’s probably a good time to replace your unit.

AC Unit Efficiency And SEER Rating

If your current air conditioner has a low Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, it costs more money to operate it. Newly manufactured air conditioners must have a SEER rating of at least 13. If your air conditioner’s SEER rating is below 13, it will cost you more to operate. And since the cost of central air conditioning can account for more than a third of your utility bill, an inefficient unit could be another reason for replacement.

Central Air Cooling And Humidity

A central air conditioner is supposed to remove humidity from the air to make your home more comfortable. In optimal condition, the system will maintain consistent temperatures throughout the house. Inconsistent cooling may be an indicator that either your equipment is malfunctioning, or there are issues with your ductwork. When you consider the cost of repairing these problems, ask yourself if it is worth continuing to spend money on repairs or if a replacement is in order.

Benefits Of Replacing Your Home AC Unit

If you have an aging air conditioner and experiencing one or more of the replacement warning signs, there is good news. Here’s what you can expect from a new central air conditioner.

Cost Efficiency And Savings On Cooling Costs
If your unit is over 10 years old and overall repair costs are approaching 50% of its value, a great deal of energy can be saved by upgrading to a more efficient system. Depending on the SEER rating (see above), upgrading could save 20% to 40% on cooling costs, with some estimates as high as 70%. With savings like that, it won’t take very long to make up for continuing repair bills.

New Air Conditioner, New 10-Year Warranty
Since your older air conditioner is most likely out of warranty, a new unit typically comes with a minimum 10-year warranty on both the compressor and parts, giving you peace of mind from repair costs for a decade or more. This is especially beneficial if you plan on staying in your home indefinitely.

Air Conditioner Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives
Although Federal tax credits through the Energy Star Program expired at the end of 2016, Colorado homeowners could get a tax credit of up to 10% or a maximum of $500 on the purchase price of a new air conditioner.

Go Green, Energy Saving AC
Upgrading to a new system with R-410A refrigerant will not only help the environment, but also helps you avoid the high costs of repairing an older system as supplies of R-22 are further cut each year due to the phase-out. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated the phase-out of R-22 refrigerant by 2020 in an effort to protect the ozone.

Comfort And Air Quality In Your Home

A newer air conditioning system will do a better job of controlling temperature and humidity in your home, reducing mold and mildew growth, and improving both comfort and air quality.

So if it seems like your older air conditioner constantly needs attention, it may be time to consider a replacement. Depending on your situation, the cost to replace a central air conditioner could be quickly recouped by eliminating repair costs, and lowering your monthly utility bill. And while you are enjoying the added benefits of improved comfort and air quality, if you decide to sell your home in the near future, a newer, more efficient air conditioning system may increase the resale value of your home.

Contact Timberline HVAC professionals to learn more about the best air conditioning replacement solutions for you and your home.

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