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Should You Replace Your AC Unit And Furnace At The Same Time?

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There’s a widely held belief that it makes good sense (and good cents) to replace your air conditioner and furnace at the same time. But is this really true?
Many homeowners have been told by their HVAC technicians that their system will be much less energy efficient if they don’t get their new AC unit at the same time as their new furnace. However, this is not always true. While there may be certain situations in which it’d be of great benefit to replace your home heating system and get a new air conditioner all at once, that’s not the case in all circumstances.
Interestingly, this misconception can actually be traced back to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In a press release to HVAC contractors working on buildings damaged by the hurricane, the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute recommended that both air conditioning components be replaced when installing new units in homes impacted by the storm. But this recommendation referred to the matching replacement of the two AC components in a split system, rather than replacing furnaces and AC units all at once. In some instances, the latter is warranted, but certainly not in all cases. Unfortunately for consumers, many HVAC technicians misunderstood the recommendation (or worse, saw it as an opportunity to sell more products). While knowledgeable and reputable HVAC companies know that you don’t need to necessarily replace your air conditioner and furnace at the same time, there are companies out there that may try to take advantage of homeowners.
That said, there are a few situations in which you should replace your air conditioner and home heating system in one fell swoop. Furnace life expectancies are about double those of air conditioners (20-30 years compared to 10-15), so it may make sense to replace both if your furnace is over 15 years old. If it’s newer than that, it’s likely that it will last until the next time your AC unit needs to be replaced. In addition, if you’re purchasing a high-efficiency air conditioner, you may want to consider replacing a furnace that could compromise your energy efficiency. This won’t be the case with all units, but it’s something to think about. Finally, if the space for your HVAC is difficult to access or you live in an extremely remote area, you may want to think about replacing both components at the same time.
While the situations above may warrant a “two birds with one stone” approach, it’s important to note that many homeowners will not benefit from replacing their air conditioners and furnaces at the same time. Working with a reliable HVAC company will help to minimize the risk of purchasing a replacement unit earlier than necessary.

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