Heating and Air Conditioning Specialists

Monday, August 8, 2011

Repair or Replace?

If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t think about your HVAC system until there is a problem with it, and at that point, it can be almost impossible to ignore. So what do you do?

Perhaps you’ve already called a repairman and been told your unit is in need of service. Now you’re looking at the estimate to fix it and wondering, should I repair my unit or replace it?

It’s not always an easy decision to make. We’ve compiled some important considerations here to help you through the process.
  1. The first thing to consider is the 50% rule: When the cost of repairs approaches 50% of the value of your heating or cooling system, it’s generally time to replace the system.
  2. The second thing to consider is the Age of Your System:
    • The average life expectancy of an air conditioner or heat pump is 10-12 years.
  3. The third thing to consider is Energy Efficiency.
    • Equipment that is approaching the end of its life expectancy will typically be much less energy efficient than today’s equipment, for example 8 - 10 SEER on the cooling side, and 68% AFUE for a furnace. Compare that to modern products that rate as high as 18 SEER and 95% AFUE. Be sure to consider the savings on your monthly energy bills when considering a new unit.
    • Energy costs (gas, oil, electricity) have risen significantly in the last decade, and will likely continue to do so. Consider the energy consumption of your unit and your potential savings over its lifetime.
  4. The fourth thing to consider is Financial Incentives.
    • There are often financial incentives for upgrading to a new system, which can be an important factor in your decision.
    • Under the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is implementing consumer tax credits for homeowners who make qualified improvements of higher-efficiency HVAC equipment totheir primary residences.
    • Search on your own at www.dsireusa.org.
  5. If there have been upgrades made to your home that improve its insulation and energy efficiency (new windows, door, insulation, roofing, sealing, etc.), then your current unit may actually be over-sized for your needs.
    The fitfth thing to consider is Home Improvements.
    • smaller unit would cost less and use less energy to run.
    • Conversely, if there have been additions or significant remodeling to your home, your current unit may be too small (ask your HVAC technician for details about properly sizing a unit for your home).

  6. The sixth thing to consider is Environmental Impact.
    • Modern equipment uses less energy and will reduce your carbon footprint. Research shows that water heating, air conditioning and heating account for more than 50% of domestic energy use.
    • Newly manufactured air conditioning units have changed to R410a refrigerant, a much more environmentally friendly product than it’s predecessor, R22.
    • For other environmental considerations that may help you make a decision, visit the energy star website: www.energystar.gov or in Canada, the Natural Resources Canada website

  7. The last thing to consider is Comfort.
    • Are you happy with your current system? Your HVAC system can be responsible for things like air quality, noise, temperature swings, and hot or cold spots throughout the house.
    • Over the last decade, modern systems have incorporated major advances in home comfort technology.
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