How to shop for a new heating/cooling system

December 01, 2018

It's true that a new heating and cooling system represents a hefty investment - but it serves a crucial function in your home.  Knowing how to shop for a new system can help save you money up front and in the long run.

The initial price isn't everything

After you recover from your initial bout of sticker shock, it's good to remember that the upfront cost isn't the only one that matters. Getting the right system for your home size and projected energy use is every bit as important as getting the best ‘deal'. You'll want to take into consideration how energy costs over the next decade or so will affect your bottom line. A system that is less energy efficient can end up costing a lot more than the sticker implies.

Updated technology means higher efficiency

A lot has changed in the last 10 years when it comes to heating and cooling technology. Newer units are designed to utilize less energy to keep your home comfortable inside. The government standard to measure energy efficiency, SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating), is a good measuring stick for the use and cost of energy. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently (and cost effectively) your HVAC system will run.

When is the best time to buy?

There are times of the year when you're more likely to find a sale on furnaces or air conditioners. For example, toward the end of winter, you'll more likely find sales on furnaces. Spring is generally a slower business time for HVAC companies and therefore they might run specials to attract buyers.

Another good time to buy is right before you retire. Taking care of this expense and installing a high quality, energy efficient HVAC system will mean you don't have to worry about it again for years to come.

Shopping for air conditioning and heating equipment - separately or together?

There are studies that show that air conditioners have an average life expectancy of about 8 to 12 years. A furnace, on the other hand, should last 10 to 15 years.

If you know that both systems were originally installed at the same time and your air conditioner is calling it quits, you still may have a good 10 years left in your furnace and want to delay that purchase. On the other hand, if your furnace doesn't have a variable-speed motor and your new AC unit rates over 16 SEER, that will waste a lot of the energy efficiency you pay for with a new air conditioner. Occasionally, you have an air conditioner that lasts longer than average and a furnace that doesn't, and the equipment may need replacing at about the same time. 

There are no pat answers because each home and each budget is different. It's best to consult with an HVAC professional to determine the right size for your home (for example, if your air conditioning unit is too large it won't be able to remove the humidity properly from the atmosphere – if it's too small, it will not be able to reach and/or maintain a comfortable temperature level) as well as which technology is best for your needs. 

If you have any questions about pricing, technology, timing, or whether you should replace one or both parts of your heating and cooling system, it's best to consult a trusted local company like AJ Perri who can help answer your questions. 

Last Updated: June 09, 2023