Should you upgrade to a “green” heating & cooling system?

energy efficient heating featured - Should you upgrade to a "green" heating & cooling system?


The emphasis on green energy over the last 15 years has spurred manufacturers of HVAC (or "heating, ventilation and air conditioning") systems to up their research and development game.

As a result, heating and cooling systems between 15-20 years old are now considered inefficient. The same goes for cooling units. If your AC system is more than 10 years old, you’re not getting optimum performance.

Replacing your home’s current heating and air conditioning usually requires an investment however. HVAC systems can often cost between $3,500 and $4,500 for just the equipment. Labor and installation are additional expenses. Families will want to balance the benefits of more energy efficient systems against their costs. As a result, consider these factors when you are thinking about your HVAC.

Repair or replace. Which makes more sense?

In a Miami Herald Home & Garden Q&A authored by Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks, there’s an easy way to determine whether to repair or replace an air conditioner. According to one HVAC expert Hicks consulted:

"In checking with top-rated HVAC technicians, our team heard an interesting approach to this conundrum that one expert calls the $5,000 rule. Here’s how it works: Multiply the age of the equipment by the estimated repair cost. If the result is higher than $5,000, replacement is probably your best bet. If it’s lower, you might do better to invest in a repair. For example, if you’ve gotten an estimate of $350 to repair a 10-year-old air conditioner, the $5,000 rule of thumb indicates that repair is the best value. ($350 times 10 is $3,500.)"

Hicks also points out, "Refrigerant is another factor to consider when determining whether to repair or replace. Pros say if your unit requires R-22 refrigerant, a leak may be a good reason to replace the unit, since the cost of repairing a leak and adding R-22 can approach the cost of buying a new unit. Also, they say, a leak is often a precursor to a failed compressor, which costs around $2,000 to replace."

Upgrading to more energy efficient heating air conditioning now

Even when your HVAC is working fine, it might make sense to replace it before it gets to be 15 to 20 years old.

Energy Star®, the Environmental Protection Agency program, reports that it’s a good idea to consider replacing a heating and air conditioning system with something more energy-efficient when the equipment reaches 10 years of age.

A new, energy-efficient air conditioning unit will cost $3,600 – $7,200 and will save you an estimated 20 percent on energy costs. Energy Star® is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program that helps people and organizations save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by identifying factories, office equipment, home appliances and electronics that have superior energy efficiency., the federal government’s Energy Department website, seems to align with that viewpoint. "Most central air conditioning units last about 20 years. At 12 years old, your air conditioning unit is passing its mid-life point. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20-40 percent of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Finally, if you are not sure of the condition of your existing HVAC system, getting a professional opinion might be well worth the cost of a service call."

One last note on replacing your unit. Make sure your new system is installed properly by a professional HVAC installer. Improper installation of new equipment could shorten the life of the system and wind up costing you more on your utility bills. View Energy Star’s® Verified HVAC Certified Guide.

How to pay for green energy upgrades

Even though most of us understand the benefits to saving money in the long run by investing in energy-saving improvements, finding the cash to do it might be easier said than done.

There are financing programs offered by HVAC companies, but you might discover that using your home equity to finance these improvements could be more cost effective. Freedom Mortgage offers an easy way to use your equity to make home improvements by getting cash from your home with its "cash out" refinance program.

You can also contact one of Freedom Mortgage’s home loan specialists at 877-220-5533.