If you have not done so already, it would be wise for you to regularly have your AC unit inspecting by a professional in order to prevent any emergencies, keep the house as cool as possible, and save money on your electric bills.
You may want to ask yourself if it is time to upgrade as well. A new AC system can keep your home cooler for a fraction of the cost, saving you money in the long run. Here are some signs that it is a good time to upgrade:
- AC is over 15 years old.
- The AC system is becoming problematic.
- The electric bill is always unusually high in the summer.
- The AC is too noisy.
- The AC does not cool the room evenly.
If your AC meets any of the above criteria, it may be time to replace it with a newer, more efficient model.
Speaking of efficiency, how efficient do you need your AC to be? Let us look at the SEER rating for an answer.
Seasonal energy efficacy ratio, or SEER, tells you how efficient an AC is. The higher the rating, the more you will be saving on your electric bill. SEER ratings are usually found on the model number. The first couple of digits will be the rating.
All AC systems need to meet a certain SEER rating by law. As of 2015, ductless split system ACs need to have a minimum of 13 here in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area, and 14 in the southern region of the US. A packaged AC (central air system) needs to have 14 all around. Know your laws before installing, but a proper professional installer in Rhode Island will ensure this for you. As efficient ACs get more affordable, the standards will increase. For example, in the 1980s, many ACs had a rating of 8. Quite a difference.
Which is Right for Me?
To figure out how much you should spend on a new AC, first figure out your budget. How much can you pay upfront? The higher the SEER rating, the better, but also the more costly an investment.
Second, calculate how much you will be saving over 15 years by comparing two units with different SEER ratings. There are many tools and apps out there to help you calculate, with some more detailed than others. We will use a simple calculator for an example and use one from Kobie Complete. Let us look at a three ton AC. One has a rating of 14, and the other 20. A 14 rating will cost you about $895 a year, while the 20 costs $626. Over 15 years, you will be saving about $4,000 if you buy the 20.
Of course, there are other factors as well, such as where you live, what your heat tolerance is, and how long you will be using your AC.
To figure out if you need a new AC, what SEER rating you should get, or just for installing your new unit, speak to a pro. A professional can help you figure out the answers to all these questions and more. Getting a new AC will not only save you money, but is less noisy and typically easier to use. So if you have not considered one already, now is the time to do so. As we become more aware of our carbon footprints, have an efficient unit ready to use.