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Buyers Guide: Replacing Your Air Conditioning

The Top 10 Considerations Before Replacing Your Air Conditioning

Maybe your old central air conditioner has quit working, and you think you need a replacement.  Maybe you want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient or environmentally-friendly system. Maybe you’re not sure what to do.

Whatever the reason you’re considering a new air conditioner or furnace, you’ll want to go through this handy checklist to make sure you are shopping for the right equipment and asking contractors the right questions.

1. How much time do I have to replace my system?

checking watch for time

Really this question depends on you. Your personal preferences, immediate needs, and purchasing ability all play a role in answering this question.

If health and safety are a concern, we always recommend picking up a couple of window air conditioners from Walmart, Target, or like-store. This can buy you some time until you get your bigger unit replaced. Nevertheless, replacing your air conditioning unit will pay long-term dividends in terms of energy savings, noise, and comfort.

As a basic rule of thumb, we recommend taking a few weeks to investigate the right equipment for your situation and get multiple quotes from local contractors. Systems can range anywhere from $3,000 to well over $20,000. Taking the time to explore your options will pay off in the long run.

The average person only has to replace their HVAC system once or twice in their entire lifetime! We understand the process, the cost and your options can be overwhelming. We’re here to help. Either contact us or click “book now” anywhere on our site to get started with your free replacement consultation.

2. Do I need to replace my system? Can it be repaired?

repair or replace?

When deciding whether to repair or replace your air conditioning system it’s best to look at the facts:

  • How old is the unit? – The average lifespan of air conditioning units is around 15 years.
  • How much does it cost to run? – Air conditioning units outfitted with numerous patch jobs and outdated technology can easily drive energy costs up.
  • Has the unit been a money pit? – If your system is starting to nickel and dime you with expensive repairs, it may be time to go.

There are a couple of other considerations that we cover in our article Is it time to repair or replace my air conditioner?

3. How much space am I trying to cool?

room dimensions

When replacing a system, a common request we hear is, “just give me the new version of what I have.” In most cases, whatever size you had before will work for the replacement system. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. For example, if you added windows or doors, added new rooms, zoned off unused rooms, or added insulation you may have affected the amount of cooling that is required.

Some people want to install a larger system “just to be safe,” but in reality, this can cause problems down the road. If your system is too big for your space your electric bill will be higher and you could negatively affect the system’s ability to control humidity, which can lead to several other problems (such as excessive condensation).

It’s worth having a contractor perform a load analysis of your home to properly size the unit for your needs. If you don’t feel comfortable with the way your contractor is analyzing your space, call another and get a second opinion.  They should walk through the home and ask you about comfort and usage, not just ask about square footage.

4. Do I want something more than just cold air?

swiss army of hvac

Every basic air conditioner on the market today will produce cold air when installed correctly. However, there are some features of high-efficiency systems that are often worth the additional price when you take more than just the initial purchase cost into consideration.  For example, because higher efficiency systems use less energy, they can reduce your monthly electric bill, and over the life of a system, it can easily pay for the upfront cost difference.

Your AC and heating system accounts for roughly 60% of your overall home energy costs each year, those numbers quickly add up to real savings. Comfort is another important factor to consider.  Some of the higher efficiency systems available today provide an added benefit from both maintaining the temperature within a more precise range to controlling humidity – both significant factors of overall comfort. While it’s relatively easy to get cold air, consider the long-term financial and comfort factors before making a purchase decision. Some systems can be considered the Swiss Army Knife of HVAC!

5. Do I need to cool the whole house all the time?

There are inherent benefits to cooling the whole house including better air circulation, filtration, and the elimination of cold or hot spots. However, there are times when cooling the upstairs bedrooms doesn’t make sense if no one is sleeping in them.  There are a couple of options to successfully zoning your cooling space.

The first is to invest in a second air conditioner and have one cool the most active space and the second be on ‘standby’ for the lesser-used space.  This requires the rerouting of your ductwork but can provide additional controls for times when both spaces are used.

The second option is to use a high-efficiency system that can provide cooling modulation to adapt its power output based on which zones need to be cooled. Because the high-efficiency systems are able to throttle up or down they are able to maintain humidity control and airflow and thus, overall air quality and comfort won’t be negatively affected.

The third option would be a ductless system with heads in each room. Click here for more information on ductless systems.

6. Is there really anything “new” in air conditioning?

Spurk HVAC - Mitsubishi Electric

If we would have asked you 15-20 years ago, “what if you could use your phone and talk to someone face to face?” what would you have said? Technology has infiltrated and changed our lives in nearly every major facet. HVAC technology is no different. Nearly every major manufacturer is constantly investing millions of dollars into research and development to make units more energy-efficient, more comfortable, and more technologically advanced.

A good example of the current advancements in HVAC tech is Mitsubishi Electric. Their ductless air conditioning systems are smart systems that can be controlled by a thermostat, remote control, smart home assistant (Google Home or  Amazon Alexa), or smartphone app. Click here to explore Mitsubishi Electric’s products.

7. Are there unique needs in Western Pennsylvania?

western pa

In our region we’ve found that air conditioning condensers coupled with furnaces, heat pump hybrid systems, and ductless heat pumps are the most efficient and the most comfortable for our varying climate.

8. Should I replace my furnace at the same time?

This is what we refer to as, The Million Dollar Question. In many cases, your original air conditioner and gas furnace were installed as a matched set.  When one needs to be replaced it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace both, but it’s a good time to start thinking about your options.

Most of the time, we recommend replacing both at the same time (matched system). All of the systems we install come with an AHRI certificate. The AHRI Product Performance Certification Program is a voluntary program, administered and governed by AHRI, which ensures that various types of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and water heating products perform according to manufacturers’ published claims. Basically, if you’re buying a 16 SEER matched system, we can prove you’re truly getting 16 SEER.

Read more about the AHRI program.

9. Should I invest in a programmable thermostat?

nest thermostat

One of the quickest and simplest ways to reduce energy costs is to use a programmable thermostat.  There are many varieties of thermostats available today with a host of features, but the one that provides the bulk of the energy savings is the programmable feature.  This allows you to dial back the heating and cooling automatically for times when you know you will not need it – while you are at work, away from home, etc.  There are more advanced models that can regulate the cooling based on other factors like humidity and changes in outdoor ambient temperatures which can improve comfort and energy savings.

You might actually have a programmable thermostat now and not know it. Check your thermostat and if you decide to buy one of the programmable models be sure to use it and see the savings add up!

10. How do I choose the right contractor?

One of the most important factors in achieving satisfaction with your air conditioning replacement is the selection of the right contractor.  Even the best equipment will not provide you comfort if it is not sized and installed properly.  There are several organizations that certify AC technicians like the ACCA.  Verifying through these organizations that the technicians are trained and certified is essential. Here at Spurk, we are an ACCA member and many of our technicians hold NATE certifications.

Unless you know and are satisfied with a contractor you have used in the past, we recommend getting quotes from several different contractors.  It’s essential to make sure they are all quoting similar types of equipment so you’re comparing apples to apples.  They should also be able to validate their experience installing the type of equipment you have selected.  The best contractors are the ones who take the time to make sure you understand what they are recommending.  Ask a lot of questions and go with a qualified contractor that makes you feel comfortable about your choices.

If you’re thinking about replacing your air conditioning system, feel free to give us a call or click the button below. We look forward to serving you.
 
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ABOUT SPURK HVAC

Spurk HVAC was formed in 2018 and is located in Warrendale, Pennsylvania. We proudly serve Cranberry Twp., Wexford, Gibsonia, Mars, and the surrounding areas. We are a Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor.

We service all makes and models. If you are seeking a heating repairheating system replacementair conditioner repairair conditioning maintenanceair conditioning replacement,  or any other heating & cooling services. Whether you are looking for residential or commercial HVAC services, we look forward to any and all opportunities to become your preferred HVAC contractor.

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