Many people believe that if their unit is still working, it’s still doing its job, but with HVAC systems this isn’t always true. Efficiency is really everything, and an air conditioner or heat pump that’s slipping in this department may be on its way out the door. Older units may still cool just as well as they always did, and regular maintenance can ensure they live longer lives, but as parts start to wear, efficiency may begin to lag behind.
You’ll notice it in little things, like the amount of electricity your unit is using to cool your home compared to, say, the same month five years ago. Sure, weather patterns need to be accounted for, but if the amount of fuel used by your air conditioner or heat pump continues to climb year after year, you’re losing efficiency and your unit is showing its age.
Your utility bill is a great place to go for this information, but you can also gauge how efficient your unit is by checking the data from your smart thermostat, too. The longer you’ve had the thermostat, the more data it will have collected about all sorts of things, including, on many models, the weather outside your home.
Although efficiency is really important to your HVAC happiness, another pressing issue is at play when trying to determine if your unit is ready to be replaced: obsolescence. Older air conditioners and heat pumps may have parts that are difficult or impossible to locate from distributors, driving up prices or making repairs untenable.
On the other hand, your parts may be just fine, but your coolant may not be. For example, if you have a slow leak that’s repairable, you’d need to replace the coolant that had escaped, with more of the original coolant. Many older units still contain coolants that are no longer manufactured or legal to sell, and your options are very few when it comes to changing the coolant in one of these units.
As long as your coolant is going strong, there’s no issue, but as soon as there is, even a well-functioning older unit may become completely useless. It’s not that your unit is worn-out, as such, but when you can’t get the coolant you need, and the potential for retrofitting to something more modern is a costly one, it really only makes sense to upgrade.
If you’re still not certain if it’s time to upgrade your air conditioner or heat pump, it makes sense to have a professional check it out. They can answer any questions you may have about the unit’s longevity and efficiency, as well as its environmental impact, and help you decide if it’s time to retire the beast or keep it in service a while longer. Sometimes, all an air conditioner needs is a good checkup and cleaning to go back to running at its best, after all.
But where will you find an HVAC professional you can trust? Your HomeKeepr community can help! Just ask for a recommendation for the best HVAC pros in your area, and invite them over for a little air conditioner viewing party. They’ll give you an idea about costs, and what your options are for the future of your home’s climate control. If you have more specific goals, like greatly improving your energy efficiency with a high-efficiency unit, they can help you balance those with the cost of acquisition, as well.