Once your air conditioning unit reaches the point where it's over a decade old, you might start thinking about replacing it to save on repair costs and usage costs. Deciding whether to repair or replace your unit involves considering multiple factors, not just age. A very old unit may still function well enough to remain cost effective for years to come. When it comes down to making this big decision, there are three different things you should consider.
Use the 5,000 Rule
The 5,000 rule takes your air conditioner's age and the cost of repairs into account, giving you a basic rule of thumb as to what the most cost-effective option is. Take the estimated cost of repairs or maintenance, then multiply that by how many years old your air conditioner is. If the result is higher than $5,000, it's probably better to drop that money on a new model instead. The idea is that the older a unit gets the more your repair costs will continue to rise, and if you're going to spend money equivalent to the cost of a new unit, it's a better long-term investment to just get the new unit.
A lot of things can factor into how much you pay for your air conditioner. Don't just think about issues that drive up costs in terms of what's cheap and what's expensive to fix right now; think about how much these issues will cost in the long run.
For example, if your old air conditioner is not meant for a house your size, this is a problem that can only be fixed by replacing the unit. This usually won't drive your utility bill up extremely high, but it will cost you money over time. As another example, if your old system has a problem with leaking R-22 refrigerant, this can get pricey fast; R-22 is being phased out, which means it costs more to buy, and consumers handle those costs. In both cases, a new unit would be the better buy. However, if your system runs fine other than a small part that needs replacing, and if it's not showing any signs of breaking down on a regular basis, you don't need to worry as much about long-term costs.
What You Can Save
If you're considering buying a new unit, remember that you can factor in various savings, both through the cost of the unit itself and the savings over time from greater efficiency. You may get government tax incentives for buying a new, energy-efficient model. Additionally, new models use a new refrigerant (R-410A), so you won't need to pay extra for dwindling supplies of R-22.
Make sure to think about how often you use your air conditioner. If your unit mostly runs fine and you don't need to use it very often, then you can save more money by waiting until a replacement becomes absolutely necessary; with minimal usage, you won't benefit as much from month-to-month savings. It also means you can afford to wait until cooler months when demand is low and prices for new units fall. Talk to a contractor, like Dependable Air Conditioning Co Inc, for more help.