5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a New AC or Furnace

Learn when it’s time to replace your HVAC system and what to know before you buy.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy — except if it’s too hot or humid. Before the real heat hits, it’s a good idea to check out your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

But how do you know if you need a new system — and what do you need to know before buying a new HVAC system to make a smart purchase?

When to Replace

You may need to replace your system if any of these telltale signs occur:

· You’re seeing a spike or general upward trend in your energy bills.

· You’re paying for frequent repairs.

· Your home isn’t as comfortable as you would like it to be, perhaps it has hot spots or cold spots, is too dry or too humid, or has large temperature swings.

· Your boiler, furnace or air conditioner is between 12 and 20 years old.

Follow these general guidelines to estimate the lifespan of your system, suggests David Kenyon, HVAC training manager at Sears Home Improvement in the New York City area: Condensers and air handlers usually last 12 to 17 years; boilers typically last 15 to 25 years; and furnaces can last 15 to 20 years.

Get in touch with someone knowledgeable and trustworthy to help you understand whether you need to replace any part of your system. Sears Home Services offers a no-cost evaluation of your current system and will discuss options. (Repairs are a different matter, though — there’s a service charge for the technician’s time.)

What to Ask

To determine if you need a new HVAC system, answer the following questions:

How important is energy efficiency?

There are a lot of measurements for efficiency, and each system has its own type of measurement. It’s always a safe bet to choose an Energy Star-certified system. You can check the Kenmore EnergyGuide to determine the energy efficiency of the products you’re considering.

What’s the ROI (return on investment)?

There’s usually a seven-to-15-year payback period for a new condenser, air handler, boiler or furnace, according to Kenyon. Having these new items will help increase your home’s resale value.

What size unit do I need?

This is determined with a load calculation. For example, the boiler calculation is based on the number and size of radiators and baseboards. Air conditioning, heat pump and furnace loads are based primarily on cubic footage, but there are other factors, including the direction your house faces, insulation, and the size, type and number of windows you have. Needless to say, it gets complicated. Thankfully, Sears Home Services has software that can perform the calculation for you.

Are there other expenses associated with installation?

“There could be added expenses, if, for example, someone needs to upgrade their electrical panel to accommodate the AC system,” Kenyon says. Also, consider if you want a humidifier or air purifier — a great idea if someone in the house has allergies, asthma, dry skin or bloody noses.

What system is right for me?

This answer depends on your budget and the comfort level you’re trying to achieve. A higher-end system will be more efficient, give you more of an even temperature level throughout your home and have less humidity swings, Kenyon says. You may also consider your return on investment. “If you’re going to be in your home for 20 years, you might want to spend more for a higher-end system.”

Sears carries Kenmore, Carrier and Mitsubishi, which are the top HVAC brands and offer a wide variety of choices at different price points. Sears also offers many different financing options to help make a large HVAC investment more affordable for homeowners. Schedule your free consultation today.