I can literally show you how to save thousands on your next HVAC system. It’s not easy, it will take a lot of research, time and possibly frustration. The key is to learn the basics about HVAC systems. The average cost to replace a heating and cooling system is ridiculous. I can tell you how I have saved over ten thousand dollars on replacing systems for my rentals.
Only after you have properly diagnosed your system can you determine if you need a new one or not.To do so you probably will need a professional to find out exactly what the problem is. Before you call a professional there are a few simple things you can check on your own. Make sure you have power, air flow, and no blockage, here are my simple HVAC diagnostics for homeowners.
What you need to know to save big bucks on HVAC
Once you know for sure that your system needs replaced, you need to educate yourself on the systems. There are a few things you need to learn when taking on a project of this size. This will give you the basics to get started on picking out a new system online. You will still need a professional to help you install it.
What size system do you currently have and what is it rated
This is simple enough, both the inside and outside units will have a metallic label that has the model number and information. If the size is not listed than you can look this information up online by using the model number. You may just have an outdoor unit, this means your system is combined into one and you will need less individual pieces.
You need to have a starting point to know what to look for in a new system. If you completed the first tip then you now know what size you currently have. Does your system heat and cool your house effectively? If your system is constantly turning off and on then it is very possible that it is oversized and is not the most efficient. If your system runs non stop then this is the opposite and I would expect it to be undersized. HVAC units are sized by tons. You will need to match the tons of the indoor at outdoor unit. Sometimes you can size up the indoor unit to improve efficiency. Ask the dealer to help you with this.
If your system works as it should than replacing it with the same size unit makes sense. While looking up the model information its important to find out what coolant your system uses. If your system uses the old coolant R22 than you may be surprised to find out in January 2020 in the U.S. R22 can no longer be manufactured or imported. This means if your old system used R22 then you will not have the option of just replacing inside or outside units or even fixing parts if you need R22 coolant added. R22 equipment is not compatible with the new coolant. R22 has been replaced with R-410A.
The next thing you will need to know is the size of your line set. The line set circulates coolant between the inside and outside units. If you have a combination unit then you do not have to worry about the line set.
The old line set will not be compatible with new equipment unless you have it flushed. Then you could use the R-410A. Some HVAC contractors recommend abandoning the old line set all together and installing a new one to avoid risking contamination into the new system.
If your set on using your old line set than you will need to know the size of it. You will use this to help size your new system. Each system will have its own requirements for line set sizes. Sometimes you may use different sizes, but it will change the efficiency of the system if you do. Be sure to ask the dealer these questions before purchasing. You need to know which sizes are compatible.
This is an efficiency rating for air conditioners. The higher the seer rating the high efficiency. If you are purchasing a split system you will find the outdoor condenser unit will have the seer rating.
In hot weather the heat from inside the home is extracted and transferred it to the outdoor air. In cool temperatures, the process reverses, instead heat is pulled from the outdoor air and transfers it inside your home. This is more efficient than using a heat strip all the time.
Gas can achieve lower costs in extreme weather depending on gas rates. Gas is almost always cheaper to heat a house than electricity. However, usually a gas heat system is run by an electric A/C. For the best of both worlds you can get a dual fuel gas/heat pump set up. This would be the most efficient at all times.
If you do not have a heat pump or gas heat then the next option would be to use the expensive heat strip. A heat strip is also used for emergency heat when it gets too cold for a heat pump to pull heat from the outside air. This is why in cold areas in the winter your electric bill goes up. Using a heat strip is necessary if you have a heat pump, but it’s terrible to have on its own.
Depending on where you live, you may opt for an air conditioner with just a backup heat strip. If it rarely gets cold where you live then an efficient heating system may be an unnecessary expense.
Buy Your Next HVAC Online
The above is just the basics. By understanding these terms you can get shopping online for a new system. I personally have bought five systems from Ingrams Water and Air equipment online. By doing so I have saved over 10 thousand dollars. I am not being paid to use their name. My recommendation would be to only deal with a reputable company online for a purchase of this size.
Your local HVAC contractor buys the equipment at a supply store. The supplier has already marked up the equipment before they sell it to the contractor. Your contractor then tacks on a huge mark up. Some contractors claim that the supply store is the ones getting all the profit from the unit. In some cases this may be true. In either case you can buy the equipment online yourself way cheaper (at least in my experience). The only caveat to this is that not all brands are available online.
I received three bids for my last system. $6800, $7900, and a range of $7500-$8000. I found a company that was willing to install my system even though I didn’t buy it from them. I paid $2558.00 for the system and $1600.00 for the install putting me at a total of $4158.00. Depending on which bid you look at, I saved anywhere from $2642.00-$3842.00 just by buying my system online.
Do it Right, Use a Professional
I would not recommend doing a job like this yourself unless you are a licensed HVAC contractor. Do you have these tools; flare nut torque wrench, pressure testing equipment, refrigerant scales, or a vacuum pump? I certainly don’t and even if I did have the tools I would not be able to do it myself. The other reason to avoid doing it yourself would be the possible warranty issue. You most likely will void the warranty by not using a licensed contractor.
Make sure to pull the proper permits and don’t forget to register your system for the warranty. This is really important. About 12 years ago I had a contractor install a unit and didn’t register it. It cut my warranty from 10 years to 5 years. My unit failed in 6 years and that’s when I looked into buying equipment online. To register for the warranty all you need is the serial numbers off the equipment and the name of the contractor you used.
Buying online can save you a serious amount of money, but it’s not for everyone. It can be an overwhelming process if you have never done anything like this before. They key is to find a contractor thats willing to help you. Usually someone smaller or just starting off is going to be more likely to help you with a project done this way.