Buying a new air conditioner, either for installation in a new home or as an upgrade to an existing cooling system, can seem like a significant investment. Before making a purchase of a new HVAC system that you’ll be relying on for years to come, it’s important to understand what you’re buying and what you can expect from the system over time.
Evaluating the initial investment and the lifetime costs of an HVAC upgrade can help you understand what you’re paying for, how the investment will pay for itself, and what you can expect in terms of costs over the lifetime of the equipment.
Initial HVAC Installation
First costs are those expenditures associated with your initial investment in an air conditioning system. These costs are necessary to purchase the equipment, get it installed, and ensure it works properly. First costs can vary significantly depending on factors such as the following:
- Equipment quality – Lower-quality equipment will normally cost less than comparable higher-quality equipment. However, if you buy a low-quality home cooling system, you can expect that it won’t work as well or last as long as a high-quality model. Low-quality equipment will need more frequent repairs, as it’s likely to break down more often. It’s also more likely that you’ll have to replace a low-quality system sooner than a high-quality one. In most cases, the reliability and longevity of the system justifies the investment in high-quality equipment.
- Energy efficiency – Energy efficiency affects how much energy your A/C uses to produce cooling and, as a consequence, how much it costs each month to keep your home at the temperature you prefer. Air conditioners with higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings will cost less to run and will produce excellent levels of indoor cooling. A/C systems with SEER numbers of 18 or higher are generally considered high-efficiency models.
- Brand name – A brand-name cooling system will often cost more than one with a lesser-known brand. Often brand-name equipment is backed up by a company’s reputation for quality, reliability and service. On the other hand, equipment from lesser-known companies can be just as good as equipment from well-known manufacturers. Consult with your local trusted air conditioning contractor on this issue.
- Installation quality – Air conditioning equipment must be installed properly to ensure that the system works properly and safely. Air conditioning systems require attention to factors such as the amount of refrigerant they contain and the orientation of the equipment. In many cases, installation is included in the purchase price of the equipment. If not, it’s often a good idea to pay for a professional installation.
The lifetime costs of an HVAC upgrade are those costs associated with keeping the system running properly, reliably, and at the expected level of efficiency. They include anything you have to spend on the cooling system from the moment it’s first turned on to the time it’s replaced with another system. You can expect lifetime costs to include the following:
- Monthly operating expenses – An air conditioning system needs electrical energy to run, so you can expect a certain monthly cost to keep your cooling equipment functioning. High-efficiency HVACs will normally cost much less to operate on a month-to-month basis than lower-efficiency units. Operating costs can also be affected by the cost of energy in your area of the country.
- Preventive maintenance – Preventive maintenance is necessary to keep the HVAC working properly and to prevent costly breakdowns. Cooling systems should receive professional maintenance at least once per year. Maintenance should include a full system inspection, necessary adjustments and minor repairs. Maintenance costs can be offset in some cases by purchasing a maintenance plan from your local HVAC services provider.
- Repair – Any HVAC system will eventually break down and need repair. It’s important to consider the possibility of repairs while evaluating lifetime costs of an HVAC upgrade.
- Supplies – Some supplies will be necessary to keep your HVAC running properly. These include air filters, refrigerant and small system components that can be easily replaced. Air filters should be replaced when they get dirty, which could mean frequent replacements depending on the air quality inside your home.
Learn more about lifetime costs of an HVAC upgrade, as well as Air Specialty’s air conditioning solutions, or give us a call at (251) 415-4559.