On average, air conditioners cost $5,376 per year to run, with a typical range of $3,736 – $7,188. And that’s assuming your A/C runs at maximum efficiency. Wear and tear can significantly decrease efficiency and increase running costs.
Old and broken down A/C units are easy to spot, but sometimes your air conditioning shows sublet signs that it’s time for a new unit. For instance, certain noises can indicate serious issues.
So to keep your costs low and your home cool, we’re breaking down the seven telltale signs that you need a new A/C unit.
1. Less Air Flow
When we say less air flow, we’re talking about the actual air blowing from your unit. A/C units with failing compressors can’t produce enough pressure to cool air and distribute it into your home.
A home warmer than the thermostat setting is usually the first sign of a failing compressor. Unfortunately, compressor repairs are expensive and it’s often worth buying a new unit.
Sometimes your A/C unit is simply too old. Normal wear and tear happens from just using the unit, and newer units also have improved energy efficiency. Energy Star currently recommends updating A/C units over 10-years old.
Older, less energy efficient units cost more per year to run and also run the risk of breaking down and leaving you stranded during a heat wave. Once you’re nearing that 10-year mark buying a new unit can stop trouble before it happens.
3. Repair Costs
When repair costs start piling up it’s time to look for a new air conditioner. Pouring more money into a broken unit doesn’t do any good, and ends up costing more money in the long run.
Some repair services, like Affordable Air Conditioning & Heating abide by the “5,000 rule.” Take the age of your unit and multiply it by the repair cost. If the result is over $5,000, it’s time for a new unit.
4. Strange Noises
A/C units should run silently. You shouldn’t hear any banging, clanking, squealing, or other strange noises. At most, you’ll hear air flowing from the unit. So if you’re hearing noises, it’s time for a new unit.
Knocking sounds indicate a bad fan while squealing can come from a worn compressor. Clicking noises come from electrical problems, especially when the unit won’t cycle on.
5. Leaking Coolant
Air conditioners use coolant to cool down the air. Also known as refrigerant, coolant like R-22 or Freon costs anywhere from $40 to $175 dollars per pound. Couple that with the actual labor cost and you’ll spend far more than the “5,000 rule.”
Beyond repair costs leaking coolant means the A/C unit can’t run as intended. Even small leaks decrease efficiency and cooling power. Sometimes to the point where running your A/C hardly cools your home.
What’s more, the EPA is slowly phasing R-22 out of production. HVAC manufacturers haven’t made R-22 powered units since 2010, and R-22 production ends in 2020.
So not only does it cost money to repair units leaking coolant, but those same units will need replacing by 2020.
Air conditioning units reduce your home’s humidity in the summer and increase it in the winter. When the evaporator coil condenses water it removes the humidity from the air.
If your home is overly humid it’s a good sign that your unit’s condenser isn’t working as well as it should.
7. Your Energy Bills are Rising
You could call this our catchall reason. If your energy bills start rising it’s a good indicator you need a new A/C unit. For this section, we’re looking at the overall rise in your monthly energy statements.
Old units dealing with decreasing efficiency and rising repair costs not only cause repair issues but cost more money in the short-term as well. Energy bills on the rise usually continue to rise.
Choosing Your New A/C Unit
Choosing the best A/C unit for your home or business means understanding when to buy a new unit and what to look for when you’re shopping. The above list breaks down when to buy so let’s now talk about what to purchase.
When you buy a new unit you need to balance price with efficiency. The more efficient units cost more upfront but save money in the long term. Let’s look at several things to remember when you buy.
A/C units come in all price ranges. Installation costs vary as do the prices of the units themselves. Standalone units can cost several hundred dollars while HVAC systems easy range into the thousands.
Always shop around for prices to get a better feel for your local market and how prices vary.
Like price, A/C units vary in their efficiency. HVAC and stand-alone units both vary in their effectiveness, with price being the biggest variable. Newer units are also more efficient than older models.
The more efficient your new air conditioning unit the more money you’ll save in the long run.
Beyond price and efficiency, you need to decide on the size of your replacement A/C unit. Stand-alone units are smaller while HVAC systems are large but usually hidden in the basement.
Though some stand-alone units are large and mounted outside your home. These units represent a good middle-ground between price and efficiency.
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