Photo By nortonrsx at istock
Have you recently learned that it is time to replace your furnace or your air conditioning system? If you have someone out for air conditioning service and they tell you it’s time for the repair, you may be left wondering if you should just replace both your A/C and furnace at the same time. It seems logical to replace both and start fresh, but sometimes this isn’t always the best option. It certainly can be a more expensive option, but there are also benefits to replacing both at the same time.
As a Fort Worth, TX HVAC provider, we are asked frequently during air conditioning service if it is wise to replace the A/C at the same time as the furnace if one or the other fails. In these situations usually, one of the major systems is failing and the other is still functioning. The answer, like most things in the HVAC world, is, it depends, but the technician from your air conditioning service should be able to offer advice.
Should I Replace Both the A/C and Furnace System?
If you have already had an air conditioning service call and know it is time to upgrade your A/C then take advantage of the knowledge of the technician in your home. Sometimes it is wise to replace both, other times it is more cost-effective to just replace the unit that is failing. A lot of factors go into deciding the answer including the age of both your AV and furnace, the local climate, the age of your home, how energy-efficient your current home is, and the current features of your HVAC system. It’s always nice to have a system that is “matched” so to speak, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
The following is a more in-depth breakdown that will help you decide if it’s time to replace the furnace and A/C or just one component. In general, you will end up saving energy and therefore money over time by updating both, but it’s not necessary in most cases. Remember, this guide is designed to help readers learn about the various factors involved with an HVAC upgrade. If you have individual questions it is a good idea to call your local air conditioning service technician and ask them more personalized questions about your upgrade.
How to Choose A New HVAC System
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when installing a new HVAC system is attempting to pick out your system on your own. An oversized or under-sized HVAC system can lead to a lot of issues and higher energy bills. Buying a smaller model won’t save you any money, because it will be forced to run repeatedly. This is especially true during the hot Fort Worth, TX summers. If your A/C is constantly running it will wear down quicker than anticipated which means more air conditioning service calls as well. It’s a common mistake though by well-meaning homeowners who want to save money but don’t realize being frugal during the installation of a new A/C or furnace system will end up costing them in the long run.
A lot of factors go into deciding the right-sized furnace or A/C system. A qualified HVAC contractor will consider all of these and use his or her personal experience to choose a model that fits your budget and your specific home’s requirements. Before recommending a new model, the air conditioning service technician will evaluate your entire home and record the square footage of the home, the number of storm windows, the presence of a tight seal around windows/doors, the amount and type of insulation in your home, and the amount of outside shelter around your home’s exterior (such as large trees). They also will measure all insulation present in the walls, floors, crawl spaces, and/or ceilings.
The Fort Worth, TX air conditioning service technician will then consider the climate, window grade, type of home insulation, and various data points from your neighborhood, in general, to consider what HVAC system is the best choice for your home. As you can see, this is a complex formula but it is one that ensures you get the exact system required to comfortably heat and cool your home. It also ensures that your system will lower your energy bills as you won’t be paying for anything you don’t need. With this in mind, if your air conditioning service contractor says they just use their experience to choose your next HVAC system and don’t need measurements, it’s a sign they are guessing. It’s in your best interests to thank them but choose another HVAC company for your installation needs.
Is It Time to Replace Your A/C or Furnace?
Of course, before deciding whether or not to replace both systems you need to decide if the time has come to replace one of them. Usually, after a heating and air conditioning service, a technician will suggest replacing a unit if the further repair would be costly on an aging system. Unless your furnace or A/C is broken and not repairable, there is no true hard and fast rule about when the right time for replacement is. However, there are a few very important factors that play a large role in deciding to replace your A/C or furnace.
One big reason for replacing one unit or both is their energy inefficiency. As a furnace or A/C continues to age it loses its ability to efficiently heat or cool a home. If you are spending hundreds extra on energy bills each year it may be wise to revisit replacing both systems. The upfront cost is high but the long-term savings can help offset initial installation costs.
When deciding if you should replace your unit or not you need to think about the current age of your furnace and/or A/C, if the technology is outdated, the repair costs of continuing to use an older system, if the size and capacity of your current HVAC system match your home, its environmental footprint, and how well the system is able to perform overall.
Sometimes it is harder to see whether or not your A/C is performing adequately in your Fort Worth, TX home, but an air conditioning service technician can help explain what you may be missing. For instance, it is possible that our current A/C system is cooling your Fort Worth, TX home, but it may not be efficient. If your A/C is running almost all day without stopping or cycling in-between this is a sign that it is not actually meeting the cooling demands of your home. Ideally, a properly working A/C will cycle throughout the day allowing it to rest in-between cooling periods. If the system has to run all day to keep your home at a comfortable rate it is costing you quite a bit of money and not working effectively. Eventually, the components inside of the system will wear out prematurely costing you an air conditioning service and repair costs.
Speaking of repairs, if your A/C system is working but you find yourself calling for air conditioning service and repair on a consistent basis and paying for a large number of repairs it may be time to consider an upgrade. Every time you pay for a repair you are investing more into an older system that is going to keep costing you. Instead of sinking a few hundred into an older model every few months, the smarter move is to put that money towards a new model that will only require routine air conditioning service annually. The same principle is true for your furnace.
Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Speaking of energy-efficiency, if that is one of your main concerns then it may be a good idea to replace both your furnace and your A/C system because both will greatly expedite the energy-efficiency of your home if you have current models that are older. Within just the last decade HVAC systems have become incredibly more efficient due to the invention of new technology and smart systems. It is pretty easy to determine how your current system ranks next to the new A/C and furnace systems that are available today.
You can do this by looking for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Called the SEER, this number ranks how efficient different models are. The higher the number the more efficient each model is. The government now requires all cooling systems to be at least a level 13, but the higher a system is rated the better it will perform. If you have an older system that is ranked below 13 it may be time to strongly consider an upgrade. If you are unsure of your current model’s SEER, ask the technician during your next air conditioning service call.
Furnaces are also ranked based on their efficiency using their AFUE measure (annual fuel utilization efficiency). A rating of at least 90% is considered adequate, but the higher the ranking the more fuel-efficient so once again it is in your benefit to pay a bit more upfront to save more throughout the lifetime of your furnace on energy bills. Once again, if you are not sure of our system’s AFUE measure you can ask during your next routine heating and air conditioning service call.
Believe it or not, your furnace and cooling system account for about half of the energy consumed by your home on a yearly basis. Therefore, if you are paying extra in heating or cooling costs you could be driving up your budget by hundreds every year. Imagine if your household bills dropped each month. Installing new units may be enough to make this happen.
One compelling reason to replace both your furnace and your A/C at the same time is the fact that mixing technology of old and new systems can actually decrease the overall performance of both. When systems are matched they operate properly without compromising their abilities. However, when mismatched the newer system tends to ‘adapt’ to the older system which compromises its abilities to be as efficient. Even with a regular air conditioning system mismatching, your system may cost you in energy bills. There is no point in installing an extremely efficient furnace if your old A/C unit is going to decrease its efficiency. A model that is capable of a 95% energy efficient rating that is only performing at 85% will not actually save you any money.
This is one strong reason that a lot of air conditioning service technicians will recommend replacing both the furnace and the A/C system at the same time. This is even more compelling if the remaining unit is over 15 years of age. The discrepancy between the new and old model at this point is a massive gap for the new model to jump. In addition, sometimes matching a new system with an older system will drag down the newer system reducing its lifespan. After investing in a new system the last thing you want to do is hear that its lifespan will be shortened because of the older system still in place.
Finally, if you buy a new A/C system but leave your furnace in place, you may be voiding your warranty. Most warranties require homeowners to have annual heating and air conditioning service and units of the same age. If newer systems are combined with an older system the manufacturer is no longer obligated to honor the warranty on the newer system.
With all of these factors in mind, it may be time to seriously consider replacing both your A/C and furnace at the same time. The upfront cost may be more, but the long-term costs will be much more affordable. If you need further advice, book an air conditioning service from One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Fort Worth, TX and one of our technicians will be glad to offer you professional insight. We can inspect both of your systems and offer you a professional take on whether the time for replacement is now.