Considering A/C Replacement? Understand the Difference Between First Costs and Lifetime Costs

Making the right call when it’s time for A/C replacement means considering two kinds of costs. With some consumer purchases, the total expense ends once the upfront purchase price is paid. When comparison shopping cooling and heating systems, however, both the first cost and the long-term lifetime cost of a given unit have to be calculated to gain a realistic estimate of the total price.

Here are some guidelines to help you make the distinction when shopping for an A/C replacement.

First Cost

• This is the cost you incur once the deal is struck with your HVAC dealer or contractor and any available rebates or discounts are applied. Generally, you can expect the sticker price of an A/C replacement to increase in direct proportion to the unit’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. The higher the SEER, the more advanced the technology incorporated in the unit and the steeper the sticker price.

• A low first cost doesn’t guarantee lower costs down the road. Likewise, an air conditioner that’s more expensive upfront may deliver greater affordability over the span of its expected service life.

Lifetime Costs

• The SEER rating of an air conditioner also relates to long-run costs. SEER is usually a reliable gauge of expected monthly utility costs due to energy consumption. An A/C replacement with a high SEER above 14 can be expected to generate lower recurrent monthly energy expenses than a standard SEER 13 unit. Whether these savings will repay the steeper initial investment in a reasonable time span depends upon variables like the average length of the cooling season in your locale and the overall efficiency of your house.

• Other factors influencing lifetime operating costs are build quality, durability and maintenance. A low-cost unit that requires frequent repairs and early replacement isn’t a long-term bargain. Similarly, the buyer must consider the expense of annual routine maintenance, typically required by the manufacturer’s warranty and performed by an HVAC professional, when calculating lifetime costs.

For more help comparing the first costs versus lifetime costs of an A/C replacement for your greater Cincinnati home, talk to the experts at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
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