Time to dust off the air-conditioner, hold on a minute…that’s a lot of dust!


Weathered AC unitI just noticed that parts of the country are hitting 90 or even 100 degrees.  That seems a bit much for spring, but that’s the way with weather isn’t it. It does raise the question:

How do you know when it’s time to replace your air-conditioner?

As you might guess the age of the system and how often you have had to get it fixed are sure signs that it might be time.

12 year old units are a candidate for replacement simply for efficiency sake.  There have been significant improvements. According to ENERGY STAR, replacing a central air unit with an ENERGY STAR certified one could reduce your cooling costs by 30%.

Many problems occur that make your cooling equipment less efficient, some can be repaired, but keep in mind that at some point, replacement may be more cost effective.  And if you’re thinking about a new system, it’s the perfect time to address other issues that help make your more comfortable, can reduce the cost of your AC system and save you even more money by lowering your utility bills.  Many problems that appear to be with your heating and cooling equipment are actually caused by poor insulation, air leaks, windows, or other issues.  

Here are some things to look for:

  • Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.  Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.
  • High Utility bills: Each cooling season can be a little different, but if you are noticing your bills going up each year it may be time for a fix. keep in mind that the cost of a new unit may be paid down by the savings in short orde
  • Humidity problems:  Poor equipment operation, inadequate or oversized equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer
  • Excess noise: You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.  

If any of these apply to you should have your system evaluated.  Make sure though, that you get a comprehensive energy audit of your home first.   Unfortunately, these problems can be found even in brand new homes, and so regardless of when it was built your home should get a thorough evaluation.

Short of replacement now see our cooling tips for stop-gap measures to immediate savings.

An if replacement is in the cards, there are several options to consider—including heat pumps and mini splits—that we’ll talk about those in future posts.


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2 Responses to “Time to dust off the air-conditioner, hold on a minute…that’s a lot of dust!”

  1. Homeowner1 Says:

    I have a 15 year old Carrier system. I suspect I need a new condenser. Do I need to replace the furnace as well or can I just replace the condensing unit?

    • Mike Rogers Says:

      It’s hard to tell from here. You may be able to replace just the AC side. Note, though, it will probably make sense to match the indoor coils to the new unit to get the best performance and efficiency. You shouldn’t just mix and match.

      But depending on your climate and other factors, it may make sense to swap out the furnace, too. Much higher efficiency units are available today. And the best newer units have efficient variable speed fans which can help improve your comfort and best allow you to take advantage of two-stage (or multi-stage) units on both the heating and cooling sides.

      It would be best to have a professional take a look. And if you read this blog, you know that anytime you’re thinking about replacing a furnace or AC, you should look at the ducts, insulation, air-sealing, and other opporunties to improve the efficiency of your whole house–doing this first means you can properly size the new equipment to a better performing house. We’d be happy to help if we’re in your area.

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