How to Determine First Time and Lifetime A/C Replacement CostsWhen it’s time to upgrade your home’s central air conditioning system, it’s important to not just look at the sticker price of the purchase and installation. Lifetime costs also should be factored into A/C replacement costs to get a true picture of the value and costs of your new air conditioner. As a rule, the lower the first-time costs, the higher the lifetime costs will be.

What Are First-Time Costs?

This is what you pay your HVAC contractor for a new central A/C system to be installed in your home. It includes the cost of the equipment and the cost of installation (including removing the old A/C and modifying any needed ductwork, wiring, drains, etc.). If the first-time costs seem relatively cheap, you’ll probably end up paying higher costs over the lifetime of your new A/C.

Why Lifetime Costs Are So Important

  • Energy efficiency: Choosing higher energy efficiency (as measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio – SEER) will significantly raise A/C replacement costs. However, that higher efficiency will mean lower energy bills throughout the life of your air conditioning system. It won’t take many years to recoup the extra money you paid for that higher-efficiency A/C.
  • Durability and quality: A well-made air conditioning system from a respected manufacturer is likely to last years longer than a knock-off brand made with cheap parts. Repairs and maintenance charges are important components of an A/C’s lifetime costs. Having to replace that cheaper A/C after 10 or 12 years, rather than 15 to 20, is also something you should consider when assessing A/C replacement costs.
  • Professional Installation: A professional A/C installation should include a Manual J cooling load calculation (which should be done before determining the right size system for your home) and precision airflow adjustment and refrigerant charging. If any of these steps are mishandled or skipped, you’ll pay the price in higher lifetime energy, maintenance and repair costs. Your system will never reach its advertised SEER level.

For more help assessing A/C replacement costs, both first-time and lifetime, please contact us at Stack Heating & Cooling, serving the Greater Cleveland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about A/C replacement costs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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