Your current air conditioning system has served you well over the years, but it’s starting to cause problems, parts are wearing out regularly, it isn’t working as well as it used to and the technician is visiting regularly. Also your utilities bills are on the increase, you were sure it never used to cost you so much to run in the past.
The cost of running an air conditioner means energy efficiency is always on the user’s mind. Making the most of your current system may help maximize the energy efficiency, but if it’s an old unit, you may be paying for high energy bills and high general ac repair costs. It may be more cost effective to buy a new unit than to continue to use your old one until it stops working.
High Running Costs
The increase in the cost of utilities may account for a part of the rise in running costs but the main reason for the higher cost is simply that older units become less efficient over time.
Often people put off buying a new air conditioning system until absolutely necessary, understandably so. But the running costs of newer models are considerably cheaper than older models and may pay for themselves quicker than you think.
All air conditioners are rated using their seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER), which is a measure of their energy usage. A higher SEER is more energy efficient and will cost less to run. Newer models can reach a SEER of 23.
If your air conditioning system dates before 2005 it could have a SEER of 10. To give you some indication of the difference between older and newer models, a SEER of 13 is the minimum available today.
Of course there is a lot you can do to keep your costs down with your current model:
- Get it serviced regularly
- Check the air filter and keep it clean
- Use fans to circulate air so you don’t need to use it as often
But it can’t match the energy efficiency a new air conditioning unit can give you.
How Much Will a New Unit Save?
The amount you save will depend on a number of factors: how old your current system is, the SEER of the new system you buy, and how energy conscious you and your family are about using your air conditioning. It has been estimated your costs could be reduced by several hundred dollars a year.
Not only will running costs be lower, but general AC repair costs will too.
It’s worthwhile noting though, that running costs may be cheaper the higher the SEER, but the unit will probably be more expensive to buy.
The EPA introduced an Energy STAR initiative in 1992 to improve energy efficiency. It certifies the energy efficiency of air conditioning products by testing them after manufacturing and during their lifetime to make sure they maintain energy efficiency.
Any product that meets their requirements is receives the ‘energy STAR’ rating. If you buy a new air conditioning system make sure it has the energy STAR certification.