Should we replace our old central A/C unit?
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    Registered User GirlBoyGirl's Avatar
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    Default Should we replace our old central A/C unit?

    Our central air conditioner for the house is about 21 years old, it has been there since the house was built. We are thinking about replacing it but it is hard to take the plunge since it still works. But I think it is really inefficient, of course I guess I don't know for sure. But I keep our air set to about 77 on hot days, usually about 78 on average, 80 at night and if I am feeling extravagant 76. And our electric bill is still outrageous in the summer.

    Our house isn't even that big- 1800sf and the front of the house is shaded, doesn't get any sun! Of course the back side gets all day sun but I keep the blinds closed.

    Can we have some A/C repairman come out and tell us if it needs to be replaced or will they just say it will to make a sale off of us (even though we would do it ourselves)? How do you know it is time to retire these things or do you just keep using them until they croak? Can you do some kind of tune-up to them to make them work better or at that point do you just get them replaced? Thank you!

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    what is your electricity bill (define outrageous)

    have you had it oiled, tweaked, "freon"ed, coils outside washed with acid, and all the stuff you are supposed to do every year?

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I don't know about AC, but when our fridge wasn't working last fall, we compared the cost of running it vs. getting a new Energy Star one that was similar. After we did the math, we realized by the time we spent the money for the new fridge, it would take ten years to even start to see any energy savings. Life expectancy of the fridge? Seven years. Luckily, we were able to fix our old fridge for $7, so no need to buy anything new.

    Of course it also depends on what your electric rates are. Ours are low here. If yours are high, you would probably see a return on the cost of new sooner than if you had lower rates.

    If you're going to replace the AC and you live where you need to heat your house as well, and your electric rates are low, then for sure look into an air-source heat pump. Our heating season here is about seven or eight months out of the year. Much of that is above twenty-five degrees, when the heat pump will run. Propane went through the roof right after we bought our heat pump, and we have saved enough in the past five years to pay for the heat pump, just by running it when the temps are above 25 (it switches from propane to electric and vice versa automatically). Our electric company gave us a great rate because we agreed to allow them to shut down our heat pump during peak demand, so we have a separate meter for the heat pump/AC and pay off-peak rates. They said it would be cycled off for no more than fifteen minutes at a time. I don't know if they've ever actually done that. We've never noticed the house warming up or anything. Air-source heat pumps are more costly than central AC by itself, but for us, it's been very much worth it.

    Call your electric company for info on heat pumps, AC, any tax rebates that might be available, and any other questions you may have. They will be an excellent source for you about this issue, and since they probably won't be the ones to sell you a new unit, won't have a huge incentive to try to sell you something. They should also be able to advise you about replacing what you have, and maybe help you figure out what you might save by replacing it, if anything.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I can tell you this: if there are still any tax incentives going for replacing the AC unit you won't get it if you wait until the machine has died. They have to be inspected by government certified inspectors first to verify that the unit is old and not running efficiently. They can't test it if it doesn't run.

    Any repairman can test your unit and tell you if it is running well or not, or if it needs more coolant added. There's no telling whether or not they will try and hard sell you on a new one.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

    If you're not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You're not going to start using it more by shoving it into a closet.

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Have you had it serviced? It's makes a huge difference when you keep it serviced. In addition to that the duct work is actually the most important part to having an efficient A/C

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    I'm in the same position and I'm just saving for when it does go out. The problem I see when buying new things today is that they are not made as well and will not last as long and need to be replaced sooner.

    Spirit;
    Can you explain how a heat pump is different from a furnace/ac? I have heard of them before but know nothing about them. We are offered a second meter and cheaper rates to anyone who will allow them to shut down their air conditioner in the summer at high peak times. It has happened to our neighbor. We don't have the second meter because we don't always use the ac and it does cost extra money for 6 months; not alot but some.

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    Registered User GirlBoyGirl's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for responding! I will try to answer some of your questions.

    LadyKemma2, maybe I am being dramatic when I say it is outrageous but it feels outrageous to me. I have the city electric and it is supposed to be one of the highest in the state. My mom has some private company and she keeps her (bigger) house frigid, and her bill is not that much more than mine! I would say my average bill is about $200-$250.

    And, no, we have never had it serviced!!!! Where is the "shame on you" smiley?! It never occurred to me, can you believe that? I guess I have to get on that pronto!!

    Contrary Housewife, thanks for that info. I didn't even think about tax credits but to clarify, are you saying that IF I want to take advantage of that, I have to get an inspector to look at it first?

    CraftyPam, that is a good point about things not being made as well these days.

    SpiritDeer, I have no idea what a heat pumpy thingy is that you are talking about but I will research it.

    AnnK, funny you mention the ducts because I don't think ours are very good. You can barely feel air coming out of the first floor ones. The furnace is in the attic, too, so getting hot air down here to the first floor is like a joke!

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    Registered User GirlBoyGirl's Avatar
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    Ok, I have a problem and it is DH! He is SO stubborn and he insists you don't need to get air conditioners serviced. But to me it makes sense that they would need regular maintenance to keep running efficiently! Ugh!

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    Registered User Neeley's Avatar
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    We had ours serviced and replaced a bad coil in June. Our power bills have stayed in the same general area (summer bills for us average between $400-$450 - but we do the budget plan so it levels out at $250 out of pocket per month all year).

    I am not so sure I will replace ours until it just dies and cannot be revived by any means. The $600 for the coil and service call was not a bad price to pay in comparison to the $5K plus it would cost to replace ours.

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    Registered User lisaflex's Avatar
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    defiitely have it serviced twice a year! helps them last longer and run longer.

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    your bill sounds normal. have it serviced every spring. make sure they wash the coils (it costs extra)

    if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GirlBoyGirl View Post
    Ok, I have a problem and it is DH! He is SO stubborn and he insists you don't need to get air conditioners serviced. But to me it makes sense that they would need regular maintenance to keep running efficiently! Ugh!
    all machines need to be maintained.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GirlBoyGirl View Post
    Contrary Housewife, thanks for that info. I didn't even think about tax credits but to clarify, are you saying that IF I want to take advantage of that, I have to get an inspector to look at it first?
    Yes. Although now I cannot find the reference for that...

    Heating and cooling equipment maintenance: Maintenance Checklist : ENERGY STAR

    I found that our salesman was a wealth of information about the tax credit program. Maybe it was just the guy I spoke with, but he was very willing to explain how it all worked and what we needed to do to qualify.
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

    If you're not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You're not going to start using it more by shoving it into a closet.

    Use it up, Wear it out,
    Make it do, Or do without. ~unknown

    Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future. KH

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    Super Moderator Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Sometimes the electric companies themselves offer rebates.

    I don't know what they do when they clean an AC unit, but watch them while they do it. Sometimes if you see something done once, you can DIY it ever after. If all they do to clean it is wash the coils with a pressure washer or something, then Bob's your uncle. I'm just guessing, but you never know.

    It would make sense, if the coils are full of dirt and crud, that if you clean those the unit would be more efficient because it could shed heat more easily.

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    Registered User GirlBoyGirl's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I went ahead and scheduled an A/C guy to come. I think it will really help, especially since it has been at LEAST 6 years since the machine has had any service done to it! It was $89 and they provide up to 2 lbs of frion for free and they do clean the coils, too. Is that a good price?

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