There’s more than one way to approach HVAC system replacement. In fact, you’ll need to ask several questions before you commit to that major purchase. For better or worse, you’ll be living with the answers for some time. Your local HVAC contractor can advise on you on many of the technicalities behind installation and operation of new equipment, but here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide on HVAC system replacement.
Is it time yet? The combined service life of air conditioners and furnaces averages out to about 15 years. Of course, not all systems are delivering optimum efficiency and performance as they approach the end of that span, so upgrading may make sense earlier, particularly if you’re facing major repairs or significant efficiency decline.
Should I replace the entire system? Homeowners are sometimes advised to save money by replacing only one side of a split system central A/C. This is false economy and terrible advice from an engineering standpoint, as well. Today’s split systems are matched sets designed and built to work together. Mating new equipment with old often produces worse efficiency than the existing system, shorter service life and also invalidates the warranty.
What size do I need? Only your HVAC contractor knows—and only after he’s performed a professional cooling and heating load calculation with industry-approved software like Manual J, published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Rough estimates and rule-of-thumb engineering have no place in today’s stricter efficiency standards.
What system should I select? Consider the EPA’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings to evaluate air conditioners. SEER 13 systems are considered standard efficiency; A/C units up to SEER 20 and above are high efficiency, but also have higher purchase price. Heat pumps can handle both the cooling and heating function, but may require auxiliary backup heating below freezing. Heat pump efficiency is rated as HSPF (heating system performance factor) and standard efficiency heat pumps have at least 7.7 HSPF.
Got more questions about HVAC system replacement? Ask the professionals at Stack Heating & Cooling, the Cleveland area’s choice for HVAC expertise since 1976.
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 HVAC systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.