If you live in Central Texas, chances are you get a lot of use out of your HVAC system. But are you getting the most for what you’re paying? Switching to a higher efficiency heating and air conditioning system can save you money, time, and discomfort. So how do you know if you’d benefit from making an energy-efficient switch? Here are few factors to consider:
1. Your energy bills have increased from last year and continue going up.
Of course, there are several reasons you could be seeing an increase in your bills–rises in energy costs and more extreme seasonal temperatures can sometimes be the culprit. However, the age and condition of your heating and cooling system may have caused it to become less efficient. Sometimes upgrading can be less expensive over time than paying the bills for a system that wastes energy and makes your bills skyrocket.
2. Your heating and cooling equipment is over 10 years old.
Many houses have units that are 10 years old or older but even if they’re still functional, these older models simply don’t offer the same performance as newer ones. Today’s highest quality air conditioners use anywhere from 30-50% less energy to generate the same amount of cooling than those older models. In fact, the law requires that any units manufactured after January 2006 must have a minimal Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13. Some of the older models have ratings of 8 or lower! You can experience huge savings by switching to a more modern, efficient HVAC unit. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by upgrading from a SEER rating of 9 to a rating of 13, you can save about $300 per year. And that’s just by switching to the minimum SEER rating. In our climate the minimum recommendation is a SEER of 15.
3. You’re frequently scheduling repairs on your HVAC system.
Almost every heating and air conditioning unit can benefit from an annual tune-up, but if your system is constantly breaking down or malfunctioning, the costs of service appointments can start to add up. At some point, it becomes cheaper to replace the system altogether than keep paying for repairs. Actually, a new HVAC system can cost up to 50% less to operate.
4. You’ve ruled out other factors.
Before you invest in an all new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed any issues with your duct system. The average duct system has a leakage rate of over 25% and is often undersized. Sometimes, this is where the true root of the issue lies, rather than in your HVAC equipment. Have your home heating and air conditioning unit evaluated by an HVAC professional to get their best recommendation. In some cases, a system upgrade or replacement may be necessary to maximize savings and efficiency. However, other times some simple maintenance like filter changes, annual tune-ups, insulation and duct sealing may help your current unit return to an acceptable level of performance.