Advances in air conditioning technology have been so rapid in the past eight years that the newer units outperform the old ones in every way. Modern systems are more energy-efficient and use up to half the power needed by the unit you would have had installed a decade ago. There are also environmental factors to consider. In 2010 most manufacturers switched the type of refrigerant used in air conditioners. The new gases do not deplete the ozone in our atmosphere. If you’re concerned about climate change, then replacing your aircon should be a priority.
Worn fan belts are easy to fix, and clogged condenser units are simple to clear. If this is all that your aircon needs to keep it going, you likely won’t be looking to replace the entire system. Or would you? What if you knew a new aircon would perform better and use less power while it does so? If your aircon breaks down, it’s worth looking into replacing it instead of simply fixing it. But before you do so, check on your current system and assess the following:
How efficient is your air conditioning system?
A new entry-level system could give you double the savings in power as your older top-of-the-range one. Newer models have lower Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios. This means the amount of electricity that is needed to give you a particular cooling output. In the past, most units had a 10 SEER, but these days 13 SEER is the standard. What does this mean in practice? A 30% drop in electrical consumption and therefore a similar reduction in power bills. A 16 SEER unit can double your energy savings. It’s a no brainer to get a new system.
Ask your installer to calculate the price of the installation compared to your energy wastage over the next 15 years, and you may well find that the system pays for itself. You may be eligible for municipal incentives or discounts too.
Is the ductwork in good condition?
Upgrading your gear won’t give you the efficiency you want if the ductwork is leaking. Did you know that most homes lose up to 30 percent of cold air because of ductwork leaks? Ask your technician to run a duct-leakage test. This will help you assess whether it’s worthwhile to repair or replace your condenser and blower units.
It’s inexpensive to seal the gaps in ductwork, but sometimes you may need to replace them with new insulated piping. A thorough assessment will give you the information you need to decide whether the ducting and/or the mechanical system needs to be replaced.
Is your house sufficiently insulated?
A house with poor insulation will be putting a strain on an older aircon unit. Simply fixing these issues may increase the lifespan of your current system. It could also mean that if you want to invest in a new aircon, you will be able to spend less. A well-insulated home may only need a small unit to give you the same cooling output you need to stay comfortable. A smaller system will not only lower your installation bill, but it will also cut ongoing energy costs too.
So what can you do? You can seal gaps and cracks in the outer walls and floors. If your house isn’t brick, you can put insulation into the walls. These easy fixes could drop your heating and cooling costs by a third. It’s worth doing before you go ahead and replace your HVAC system.
What size is your current system?
It could be that you received poor advice when you installed your current aircon system and it is too big for the room or house. In the past installers tended to use a ballpark estimate for sizing equipment. This meant that many homes now have oversized systems. The problem is they cool the air too rapidly. This puts a strain on the components of the cycles and doesn’t allow sufficient time to dehumidify the air. It also means you paid too much! The bigger the unit, the more they cost.
If you’re exploring a replacement, ask the installer to supply you with a load calculation that’s derived using load-calculating software. This report will show you exactly what size system you need and explain why. It will have considered factors such as the number of windows in your home, how thick your insulation is, the direction the house faces and which rooms get the most sun. The data will reveal the exact tonnage of an aircon that is needed for your spaces. If your installer cannot give you this information, you are at risk of installing a new system that’s inefficient and won’t give you the comfort you were after. Now that would be a waste of time and money.