3 Signs It's Time For A New Air Conditioner

If last summer was incredibly hot and uncomfortable for you, then you're about to receive some bad news: this upcoming summer will be even hotter and more uncomfortable. However, this isn't necessarily because of global warming—it's because your air conditioner might be running on its last leg. Pay attention to these three signs to determine whether or not it's time for you to replace your home's air conditioning unit.

A Needlessly Expensive Electric Bill

During the summertime, you probably keep your air conditioner in operation almost the entire time you're at home. However, since air conditioners are without a doubt one of the biggest energy-consuming appliances in modern homes, you receive a significantly larger electric bill during the summer months than you do throughout the rest of the year.

If your air conditioner is more than a few years old, chances are it consumes an unnecessary amount of electricity while cooling your home. Flip through your unit's owner manual to find your unit's energy efficiency ratio—or EER. Your unit's EER is determined by the number of British thermal units (or BTU's) it produces divided by the number of watts it consumes in one hour.

If your current air conditioner's EER is eight or below, then you'll significantly reduce your electric bill by replacing it with a more efficient unit. For example, if your current unit has an EER of exactly eight, then you can reduce your cooling costs by half or more if you purchase a unit with an EER rating of ten or greater.

Compounding Repair Costs

As your current air conditioner is used for a countless number of hours every summer, its components sustain wear. Depending on the age of your unit, you may have already paid hundreds of dollars to replace a broken compressor, evaporator coil, or condenser.

Just like your car or truck, your air conditioner will reach a point when it's no longer cost efficient to maintain it. If you've spent more than 50% of your air conditioner's retail price on repairs alone, then you should replace it the next time it's in need of repairs.

Inefficient Cooling

Your HVAC technician chose to install your current air conditioner after carefully calculating the number of BTU's that were required to cool your home. The factors that your technician took into account during this calculation were:

  • Square footage

  • Number of people in household

  • Sunlight penetration

  • Insulation

  • Local climate

If you renovated or remodeled your home since your current air conditioner was installed, then the BTU calculations your HVAC technician made for square footage, insulation, and possibly even sunlight penetration are now outdated. Additionally, if you also have an increased number of people in your home (such as taking in new roommates or children), then four out of the five factors that were used to determine the required BTU rating for your home are now inaccurate.

By continuing to use your current air conditioner with these household changes, you're increasing both your cooling costs and your repair costs since you must leave your air conditioner on for a longer period to cool your home.

However, before you rush out to purchase a new air conditioner simply because you're not receiving efficient cooling, consider how well you've maintained your unit. If you haven't replaced your air filter, cleaned your blower motor, or arranged for a refrigerant recharge, then doing so may restore your unit's cooling efficiency.

If you're experiencing unnecessary energy consumption, expensive repair costs, or inefficient cooling (even after maintaining your air conditioner), then it's time to purchase a new air conditioning unit for your home. To get the most for your money, leave the task of selecting and installing your new air conditioner to a professional HVAC technician.