Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. When a unit begins to show its age, you have two choices: overhaul the system or replace it. Because heating and air conditioning technology improves over time, a unit designed with newer, more energy-efficient equipment makes sense, especially if your system is 10 or more years old. Our authorized air conditioning and heating professionals can provide an in-home estimate on the cost of a new system as well as a payback schedule that will show you how much money your newer, more efficient system will save you in utility bills.
No, you don't want your heating or cooling system to be too large. Air conditioners control the comfort level in your home by cooling the air and by removing humidity. An oversized air conditioner can cool your home faster, but it will use more energy and will not remove humidity adequately. In addition, your existing ductwork may not be able to support the airflow of a larger system. A unit that is too big for your home will have short-run cycles. It can take only a short time to cool the air, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much moisture left in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems. These short-run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often, which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates more efficiently during long-run cycles. The same holds true with heating systems. An oversized furnace can warm the house quicker, but it uses more fuel and causes greater temperature swings in the home.
Here are some ideas to reduce your energy costs: upgrade to a high-efficiency air conditioning or heating system, install ceiling fans, schedule annual maintenance check-ups, don't block vents in well-used rooms, close vents in unused rooms, and install a programmable thermostat.
While it may cost less initially to replace the outdoor unit on an older system, over time utility expenses will add up and may even cost you more. Replacing only the outdoor unit will lower the efficiency of the unit. Even worse, your system may fail sooner than normal and most manufacturers' warranties will be voided. You should always replace the indoor cooling coil along with the outdoor unit.
Industry experts estimate that as many as 70% of all homes with central air have poorly installed ductwork. Ducts that are not properly sealed or insulated fail to get the hot or cool air where you want it efficiently, therefore costing you money. Before you invest in a new system, make sure a heating and air conditioning professional checks your ducts and includes specific recommendations in their proposal to you. This can normally be done for as part of your in-home estimate. Don't spend the money on a new, super-efficient system unless you are sure those efficiency gains won't be lost by poor ductwork.