Keeping your air conditioner functioning is an essential part of keeping your home comfortable throughout the Southern California summer. Eventually, you’ll need to replace your system, which is a significant investment for your home. So, is there a particular time when it’s better to install a new air conditioner?
Type of Air Conditioner
Before determining the best time to install a new air conditioning unit, you have to consider the type of unit you’re installing. There are generally two types of units you may consider, a window-mounted unit and a permanently installed unit like a central air system or ductless mini-split.
You’ll likely install a window unit yourself, so there’s no bad time to install it. You’ll just want to avoid doing it on a rainy day so that you don’t risk any kind of water damage. In terms of purchasing a new unit, you normally find sales for these units during the fall, after the busy summer season, and in the spring, before the hottest weather hits.
The rest of this article will focus on professionally installed central air and heat pump units. There are several factors that’ll influence the best time to install your next air conditioning system.
Best Time for Budgeting
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for your air conditioner to suffer a catastrophic failure to think about a replacement. The average air conditioner will last roughly 10 to 15 years, allowing you to plan ahead.
Planning for the replacement allows you to budget for it over time to minimize the risk of it becoming a crisis. Additionally, it puts you in a stronger position to get the best deal because you’re not rushing.
As soon as you hit the 10-year mark with your current unit, start your research and planning for how you’ll replace it. From there, start paying attention to your utility bills and the number of repairs.
Properly maintained air conditioners become less efficient and have significantly more repairs in the last two years of their service life. Look at your repairs and their costs over the last two years and then multiply the costs by the age of your unit. If the product is greater than the cost of a new unit, it’s time to replace your air conditioner.
When you identify that the replacement is coming before it’s a critical need, you give yourself more power in the process. This allows you to more effectively research models and options. It also allows you to gather quotes from multiple vendors to find the right fit with the best cost.
How Urgent Is Your Need?
What is the weather like right now, and how quickly do you require your unit to operate at full capacity? If you have someone in your home who depends on it for their health, the best time is as soon as you realize you require a replacement.
If you have time to spare, such as during the winter when you’re not using your AC, you may be better served to wait on some of these other variables. Like most things in life, the less you rush, the better position you’re in to save some money. Replacing your air conditioner is no exception to that rule.
Consider HVAC Seasons
Heating and cooling companies have certain seasons where they are busy. During these seasons, you’re less likely to see discounts offered because they aren’t hurting for business.
The busiest seasons are when the temperatures are at their most extreme. This is during the dead of summer and middle of winter. Considering that, the best time to replace your air conditioner is during the fall or spring. However, given the generally mild temperatures throughout the winter in Southern California, you may be able to find a deal anywhere from late September through mid-May.
Think About Rebates
Whenever you need to shop for a system, you’ll want to also shop for available rebates. Start by looking at rebates available from the installation companies. Oftentimes, these are from system manufacturers, but both parties offer them during slower seasons to boost business.
Service companies may also offer discounts on the installation during the slower periods. Check websites and social media pages for any current coupons or discounts.
That’s not the only place you might find a way to save some money on your new air conditioner. Check with your tax professional about different federal and state tax rebates that may be available when you’re ready to install a new unit. These rebates are often tied to installing a higher efficiency system than you had previously.
Another place to look for rebates is the local utility company. LADWP has offered rebate programs to replace your unit or help you maintain it. Higher efficiency models and proper maintenance reduce the strain on the electrical system, easing some of the power problems that California experiences.
Bundling Your System
If you have separate heating and cooling units, you may want to consider bundling the replacements together. Even if your AC may have another year or two left in it, you can save money by doing the two together.
If you have a matched system, both the heating and cooling use the same air handling unit. When you replace both together, you reduce the overall work your technician has to do, thereby reducing the installation cost.
Further, if you replace only one component, you may be sacrificing the performance of your new unit. This means that while you keep your installation costs a little lower, you’re raising your operational costs.
Be sure to speak with your installation technician about the benefits of bundling your replacements together. If it’s a good option for your system, they’ll be able to help explore the options to make it doable. The goal is not only to get a new air conditioner installed but to also ensure you’re getting the best efficiency from it.
Separate Purchase and Installation
The most common way of purchasing a new air conditioner is to gather quotes, book the installation, and make the down payment. From there, you either pay the remainder at the time of installation or through a financing program. An often-overlooked alternative is to separate the purchase from the installation.
This means you do your research and actually make the purchase in advance, say over the winter. Then, you have it booked for the company to come back later to install the unit, say in the spring.
The benefit of this is that it allows you to take advantage of some rebates that may expire. However, you don’t necessarily have to have the unit installed right away, especially if you’re not going to need it right then. This approach also allows you to work with the installation company to find the best time to install the unit where they won’t be rushed.
Residents of Newbury Park turn to Southland Heating & Air Conditioning to keep their homes comfortable throughout the year. Our team of NATE-certified technicians provides heating and air conditioning repairs, installation, and maintenance together with indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our expert air conditioning installation specialists.