When asking yourself this question, there are three factors to consider. The life expectancy of your current system, monthly operating cost, and looking at the big picture.
Life Expectancy of Old AC System
When you’re frustrated by an equipment breakdown, it can be tempting to find the least expensive “quick fix” to get on with your life in relative comfort. That “quick fix” may be the least expensive option now, but it may not give you the most value–or cost you the least–in the long run.
Paying for repairs on an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It’s almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again… and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.
Even six-year -old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards, as are most furnaces built before 1980. With new high-efficiency equipment, you could save up to 60% on your energy bills. That’s why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Looking at the Big Picture
When one component of your system breaks down unexpectedly, it’s easy to just focus on repairing or replacing that component. However, each part of your system works with the others to boost efficiency and reliability, so it helps to keep the big picture in mind.
Replacing your old furnace with a new higher-efficiency model but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place, for example, won’t allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the furnace has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new furnace but don’t get a humidifier, the air may seem cooler, forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature to be comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and air conditioner) replaced at the same time.