A common dilemma homeowners face is deciding when to invest in major upgrades to our homes — like replacing the roof or repaving the driveway. We know those improvements need to be made, but how long can we wait, and what are the risks if we wait too long? Nowhere is the situation more complicated than deciding when to replace a furnace or air conditioner — or both at the same time. If you know it’s time for a new furnace, does that mean you should also replace your AC — or vice versa?
Here are several factors to consider if you’re asking those questions.
How Old is Your System?
A big consideration in deciding whether to replace your furnace and AC together is the age of the components. Furnaces have a slightly longer lifespan than AC units, but the difference is almost negligible. The average lifespan of a furnace is 20 years, whereas an AC unit will last about 18 years.
So, if your furnace is under 15 years old, consult with your HVAC professional to determine if you really need to replace it. If they're both a similar (elderly) age, then it's probably wise to replace both together.
Advantages of Replacing Your Furnace and AC Together
- Energy Efficiency. New HVAC systems, both furnaces and ACs, are more highly efficient than in the past — even those manufactured just 10 or 15 years ago. So, installing two new components can, potentially, significantly increase your system’s heating and cooling efficiency — saving you money on energy costs.
- Compatibility. When you install a “matched” furnace and AC, the two units are made to work together. That can mean greater home comfort, a quieter operating system, and less chance of costly adjustments.
- Installation Costs. If you purchase both a furnace and AC together, the installation is usually faster and less complicated. That will translate into savings on installation costs in the long run. You may even get a manufacturer discount when you buy the two units together.
- Warranty. When you purchase both units new, they’ll both be under warranty, saving you on potential repairs and giving you long-term peace of mind.
Disadvantages of Separate Replacements
- Energy Efficiency. Mismatched components may not run as efficiently together as matched ones would. That could mean you’re paying more in energy costs or not getting quite the heating or cooling comfort that you might with a matched system.
- Installation Costs. When it does come time to replace your second unit — furnace or AC — you’ll pay for a second installation, which may add to the overall cost in the long run.
- Warranty. Your new unit’s warranty may be limited. Manufacturers don’t always have to honor a warranty for a component that’s added to an old system. Be sure to check that out with your HVAC pro before making a final decision!
Overall, most HVAC pros recommend replacing a furnace and AC together. Not only will doing so gain the greatest efficiency, but you’ll be better covered by warranties, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t have to worry about your home’s comfort for years to come.
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