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AIR CONDITIONING TIPS FOR THE SPRING

by Mitch Weigand

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t think about your A/C system until there is a problem with it. It’s virtually impossible to ignore when the temperature is 90 degrees inside your home. What do you do?

You get your A/C service technician to inspect it and he’s got good news and bad news. The good news is your home can be back to 75 degrees by tonight but the bad news is that the repair will be very expensive. Around $3,000. Should you repair or replace? How do you make an informed decision?

Let’s look at the 50% rule

Consider the 50% rule. When the cost of repairs nears 50% of the replacement value of your A/C system, it’s time to replace it. The average life expectancy of an air conditioner or heat pump is 10-12 years. If your unit is nearing its end, you’ll need to weigh the repair cost against the genuine possibility that additional repairs may be needed very soon or even a complete replacement.

As discussed in last month’s column, fixing a decade-old furnace or air conditioner is like putting a new $3,000 transmission into a 10-year-old pick-up truck that has over 400,000 miles on it. Yes, you now have a truck that works but it is still 10 years old and has over 400,000 miles on it. False economy never pays.

New means improved efficiency

Equipment that is approaching the end of its life expectancy will typically be much less energy efficient than today’s new equipment. Typically, a 10-year-old A/C will have an 6 – 10 SEER*. Compare that to a new system whose SEER may be as high as 20.

Also, keep in mind the savings on your monthly energy bills. Energy costs (gas, oil and electricity) have risen significantly in the last decade and will continue to do so. Consider the energy consumption of your old unit versus a new one and the potential savings over its lifetime. If your old system has a 10 SEER, a brand-new, full system with a 15 SEER will have you 47%. Cool!

*SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a rating that measures the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner or heat pump. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit.

Mitch is the owner of Air Wise Air Conditioning and Heating. You can email Mitch with any A/C questions at mitch@airwisehouston.com or write to 1590 Sue Barnett Drive, Houston, TX 77018.

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