Advantages of a New vs. an Older AC System

Your old AC system has served you well for years, maybe even decades. Why change it? After all, all it really needs is recharging and regular maintenance, right? All things being equal, that may be so. But first, let’s look at some facts.


AC Units Older than 10 to 15 Years May Not be Very Efficient

In 1995 and 1996, the Energy Star program began including recommendations for certain specifications that determined eligibility for qualifying AC appliances to carry the Energy Star logo.

  • Energy Star units are significantly more efficient: These units use up to 20% less energy than even new non-Energy Star compliant AC equipment. They are likely to be even more efficient than units over 10 to 15 years old, as older units will naturally degrade to some degree. Good service and maintenance will help in this respect, but even then, non-Energy Star units will never overcome the built-in advantages of their Energy Star cousins.

  • AC Installation cost savings are tied to efficiency: The government is aware that the country has a highly stressed energy infrastructure and is taking steps to ensure that energy use is made more efficient through programs like Energy Star. One of the advantages is that there are often local and national rebates or incentive programs available for customers willing to upgrade to equipment in compliance with the recommendations in the program. Sometimes private contractors and businesses also get on this bandwagon. There may be more information at the government’s Energy Star site. Ask your local AC installation specialists if they can offer a special or help get you qualified for a government program.

  • Energy Star thermostats also save energy: These newer generation thermostats are better equipped to maintain exact temperatures when you need them. They are programmable and can be set for a number of varying conditions throughout the day, the week, and sometimes even the time of year. This allows you to have the cooling done only when you expect peak times of need and room use.

Additional Efficiency Factors with New AC Installation

  • Under- or over-sized equipment: Most anyone could expect equipment insufficient to the task might also be more expensive to operate. And this is true. Such AC installations will run too long and never quite meet the cooling needs when not up to the appropriate volume. However, what is not necessarily obvious is that a unit too large for the needs of the space will also waste energy. There are several important drawbacks to oversized AC units causing them to be inefficient, wasteful, overly costly, and even potentially damaging to the house and contents. And the initial out-of-pocket cost will be larger than if the proper equipment had been installed.

  • Older equipment and periodic service: As with nearly any machine, the older it is, the more likely it will need more service more often. This can be a subtle, yet increasingly costly factor as your AC equipment ages.

  • Original improper design or installation: The need for a specific capacity of cooling is not determined just by the rating of output on the equipment’s tag. A number of factors need to be weighed before deciding which appliance is installed. If a general contractor, private owner, or other untrained person was left to make this choice, it might be that the space never had the right equipment installed. The best AC installation selection should be determined by a trained and experienced professional equipped to make the right tests and calculations. This should be one of the first steps taken to evaluate whether you will benefit significantly enough by replacing your older AC.

Whatever decision you make as to keeping an older system, upgrading to a new one (and if so, which one to choose), do not fail to consult with a reliable HVAC representative from your local service area to get a professional evaluation and consultation. You may be surprised at how cost-effective it is to switch up to a newer AC system.

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