A quality, reliable AC system is important to your comfort and well-being, especially in the heat of summer. Malfunctioning HVAC units are going to drive up your utility bills while providing poor air quality. Preventive maintenance can help, but all equipment degrades eventually. About 15 years is usually the limit for air conditioners. When problems keep recurring, it’s time to think about an upgrade.

Identify AC Problems

Common signs of defective AC include poor air flow, barely cooled air, noisy operation, or an AC system that can’t match your thermostat settings. This could be caused by clogged ducts, dirty filters, electrical problems, coolant leaks, or failure of critical components like compressors and blowers. Unless it’s repaired or replaced, your AC unit will continue to function inefficiently, raising your energy costs and even threatening your health.

Replace Your Unit

Newer systems will be more efficient and cost-effective. Just be sure it delivers enough BTUs to cool the volume of space involved. Look for a unit that will have estimated operating costs printed on the ENERGY STAR label. Many AC companies, like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy, offer maintenance and repair plans. This will lower your repair costs over time and extend the useful life of your new AC unit. Be sure to check with your retailer on applicable plans and costs.

Dispose of AC Units Properly

In the event that your AC needs replacing, you should give some thought to disposal of the old unit. The refrigerant used in many models, particularly older ones, is bad for the environment. Simply tossing it into a dumpster or landfill may violate state and federal laws. Check with your local sanitation department to see what their requirements are. In many cases you’ll have to have a qualified technician drain the coolant safely before it can be thrown out or taken to a scrap yard.

Recycle Your Old Unit

When you purchase the new unit, ask the seller if they’ll take and recycle the old one. You’ll still have to have the refrigerant removed, but many scrap yards or recycling centers have certified employees who can do this. Check around for a recycling center or scrap yard that accepts AC units and is certified by the EPA as a Responsible Appliance Disposal organization.

If you’ve ever been in stifling heat with a bad AC unit, you know how unpleasant it is. It’s important to your budget and your family to have efficient units in place.