There’s no doubt about it: energy costs take up a big chunk of your monthly bills. Air conditioner use alone accounts for 5% of all electricity produced in the U.S., equating to an annual cost of more than $11 billion to homeowners. And if you fail to take care of your HVAC system, you may pay more than necessary in the form of monthly bills or total HVAC system replacement. But if you’re weighing options to improve your home heating system or air conditioner, you may be wondering whether it’s better to repair it or to replace it. The answer depends on some specific circumstances, which are outlined below.
Consider replacing older systems
The age of your system does matter when determining whether to repair or replace. Air conditioners and heat pumps can last 10 to 12 years, while furnaces can last 15 to 20 years on average. In general, if your system is more than 10 years old, you may have to conduct repairs more frequently and won’t likely be benefiting from as much energy efficiency as you could. In addition, older models won’t be as effective at controlling humidity and temperature as newer systems will. If you’re paying higher monthly and repair bills, have had the same system for over a decade, and think your home could stand to be more comfortable, you may want to talk to your technician about HVAC system replacement in lieu of repairs.
Replacement might be better than high repair costs
Typically, high repair costs and age go hand-in-hand, but that’s not always the case. Even if your system is a bit younger than 10 years or so, you may still want to consider total HVAC system replacement in certain cases. Consumer Reports recommends that you replace a product when the repairs for it exceed 50% of the cost of a new model. Ultimately, you won’t want to put a substantial amount of money into an HVAC system if it won’t fix the issue or last long enough to make the cost worth it. Get a reliable estimate from your HVAC company and compare it to the cost of an HVAC system replacement to discern whether replacement might have better value.
If you want to go green, you might want to replace
If reducing your carbon footprint is high on your list of priorities, consider that newer systems are bound to be more energy efficient. R-22 refrigerant will be phased out by the year 2020, which will improve the environment and make it harder to repair older units that use it. In addition to improving the planet, you may even be able to get a tax credit for using greener HVAC components. That means that even if your system isn’t all that old, you might have even more of an incentive to make an environmentally responsible decision.
In these three instances, it makes a lot of sense (and cents!) to replace your entire system. But in cases of minor repairs on newer units, it’s usually a good financial decision to hold off on replacement and fix your existing system. In the end, your HVAC technician will be your best resource and give you reliable recommendations about which decision will be best for your home and for your budget.