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Ask the Energy Expert
Energy Expert

About "Ask the Energy Expert"

Craig Muccio runs FPL's Conservation Research & Development Program and crunches the numbers to figure out how you can save by managing your energy use.

Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here

When to replace an A/C unit

How do I know when it is time to replace a functioning heat pump air-conditioning unit with a new, more energy-efficient system?

Great topic Sandra! The question of early replacement of an A/C or heat pump that is working fine is mostly an economic decision. Ask yourself if you’re ready to make the large investment in a new air conditioning unit, and you can start saving on operating cost right away. Generally, FPL suggests considering early replacement if your existing A/C is 10 years old or more. Your possible annual savings is affected by the efficiency rating, or SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), of your existing unit and the extent of your upgrade. For example, using an average 3 ton A/C unit, if you upgrade from a SEER 10 to SEER 16, your annual savings will be about $400 a year. Meanwhile, you’ll save about $150 per year by upgrading an already more efficient SEER 13 unit to a 16 SEER. In addition, when installing a 16 SEER 3 ton unit, FPL will contribute $585 as a rebate to your total cost of the unit if you purchase your A/C system through a Participating Independent Contractor (PIC). FPL rebates vary based on size of the A/C unit and the SEER efficiency selected.  See our annual cooling cost calculator illustrating this example below.

Try our “cool” calculator.

Once you use our calculator and have an idea of how much savings you can expect, you can make a more informed economic decision.  Also, you may be eligible for a rebate if you install a new A/C.  Learn about FPL’s A/C rebates and use our A/C cost calculator here: www.FPL.com/acsavings.

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Comments [62]

Ryan Bradley // March 31, 2013

Great stuff Craig, thanks for the advice!

Richard Gosch // January 11, 2014

I live beach side and my outside A/C unit is only 5 yrs. old. The unit is looking really bad because of the salt in the air and wind from the ocean. Is there any units that a built specifically for beach side? Thanks

rick hillier // April 6, 2013

The a/c site to locate a participating contractor to replace my 4ton mobile home a/c would not allow any size type other than a 2ton unit. There were no listed contractors in the 32011 zip code area either. I currently have a Carrier unit and it is over 10yrs old. Can you assist?

Alexander Alvarez // April 6, 2013

Keep me informed about saving., please.!!!!!

jill // April 6, 2013

we have a Rheem AC Model # MRCBA3754GG17, serial #M4702. There is nowhere where it shows the tonnage or Seer #. do you know anything about this unit. I wouldnt know what size to compare a new one with…..thanks

Eric // August 16, 2013


Eric // August 17, 2013

a 2011 system can be no less that a 13 seer

Eric // August 17, 2013

your old a/c may be r-22 so you would have to replace both the air handler and condenser because r-22 is no longer used and r410a is the new refrigerant and is higher pressure

eric // August 17, 2013

humidistat at 55% thermostat at 78-80 when away

Joan Chase // April 6, 2013

Who are the Participating Independent Contrators in the Daytona Beach area?

Sally // April 6, 2013

My current unit is 20+ years old, 2.5 tons & probably an 8 SEER but it still runs. I live on the river & have my windows open for the breeze whenever the weather’s nice so I only run the AC from June til Sept, typically, and heat occasionally between Dec & March.

I’m not sure it’s worth my replacing the unit (split unit with heat strips)as it would probably take at least 10 years to recoup my costs. How much rebate would I get & are there any Energy Credits available now?

Linda Wallander // April 6, 2013

Who is a participating independent contractor? Can you send me a list? Is Air & Energy on the list?

frank schumann // April 6, 2013

How can I determine the Seer and Ton rating of my old A/C unit.

Frederic Friedman // April 6, 2013

This may or may not be up your alley.

Will replacing a central a/c unit help to reduce the black mold that is forming around the vents at an alarming rate?

Marie // April 6, 2013

i inherited my house from my father when he passed in 2009. It was built in 1981 and I know the A/C unit needs to be replaced not knowing really how old it is. It does work but I keep my fingers crossed everytime I turn it on hoping it will last through the summer. I would like an estimate on replacing it. Can you help me with that? Thank you.

Miguel Prieto // April 6, 2013

I want to change my air conditioner and I should like to know more you have a heat pump or electrical strip for here in Florida is projected package of 4 ton, 14 SEER

michael wells // April 6, 2013

Is westbrook a participating partner??

elizabeth engle // April 6, 2013

My air cond. was replaced in late 2005. My neighbor said the man told her she did not have to have service every six months as the newer air cond. were much better than the old ones. I would like to know if this is a fact or not.
Thank you,
elizabeth engle

dennis // August 31, 2013

Your unit serial number indicates it was manufactured on the 47 week of 2002. Although it is possible it was upgraded to a more efficient system, the guidelines for minimum efficiency at that time were 10 SEER, I believe so it is most likely that you have 11 year old 10 SEER unit.

Joan // April 6, 2013

Is the Federal Tax Credit still available for new energy efficient AC units?

Ralph Green // April 6, 2013

You have a rebate program as noted in this e-mail
for the A/C. How about for a new roof that the
roofer says will save 40%. We live in a double
wide mobile. Any rebate help here? The roofer
says the cost of an energy saving roof for out
place will be about $ 5000.00

carole soling // April 6, 2013

Where can I get a list of participating independent contractors?

Geraldine Vaccaro // April 6, 2013

I currently have a 5 ton 13 Seer unit in a 2900 sq ft house. If I were to upgrade to a 16 Seer unit what would my savings be, and what would FPL contribute?

Many thanks

hansroetzer // April 6, 2013

comprssor has 3 years airh. has 24. system works well

Jean Andolsen // April 6, 2013

We have a TempStar air conditioner and furnace installed by the builders in 2011. I could find nothing to indicate the SEER on the appliances nor the installation/warranty information. Would it be safe to assume it has a SEER rating of 10 in order to use your calculation chart? Thank you.

ted jeffries // April 6, 2013

how do I if this worth while, unit is ten years old , but use only 7 years ,works great thanks

Clarence Jones // April 6, 2013

How can I determine the SEER rating of my current A/C unit? It seems to have everything else on a plate fastened to the external compressor unit. It is a Rheem, manufactured in October, 2003.

mel paul // April 6, 2013

your expert said you can upgrade a 10seer to a 16ser–with your curren ac–how do i get more information

Frederick C Hertel // April 6, 2013

Our condo’s a/c compressors are about ten years old and we are being advised to replace them soon to avoid failure and to conserve electric power. I think this is good advice, but they also advise replacing the air handler or “it may not work well with the new compressor.” I have never had a problem with pairing a new compressor with an old air handler. Please advise. Thank you.

Michele McGruie // April 6, 2013

I was reading your article about when to replace an older AC unit, and want to do the “Cool” calculator, but I cannot find the SEER of our existing unit. It is a Janitrol unit, Model # A49-10 (Ser # 9806486638, if that’s important) installed in 1998, in a new home, and I think is a 3-ton unit. Where would that SEER information likely be located? I’ve scoured the stickers and such on the outside and there’s nothing there indicating SEER.

Stuart Driver // April 7, 2013

Where do I look to find the SEER number on my a/c unit?

Monica Reiley // April 7, 2013

How do you know what your ac’s SEER is?

ANTHONY SUSI // June 13, 2013

Where can I get a listing of PIC’s to purchase a new a/c system?

Kathy // April 7, 2013

Where do I find a list of Participating Independent Contractor (PIC) for A/C replacement?

Virgil Orff // April 7, 2013

o you have a list of local contractors tp replace

Elsie Zimmer // April 7, 2013

Replaced my air conditioner feb. 2013 with a new Maytag Air conditioner.

Linda Dean // April 7, 2013

I was interested in your advice for seasonal residents regarding temperature settings for thermostats while away but I was disappointed you did not include the combination settings for thermostat plus humidistat. We, and most of our snowbird friends, have humidistats. I always have trouble remembering the correct settings to leave on each so they work together to keep the temperature and humidity at optimum when the condo is vacant.

rod scott // April 8, 2013

Does this analysis include the air handler or is that a separate set of issues?

Willie // January 12, 2014

It’s not only the size of the house. It has to include what is reffered to as a Heat Calculation. They take the construction of the home the windows, The Insulation, What the home is made from, and many other things, If a house is undersized or over sized they each will have their own problems. Over sizing the unit will cause the unit to cycle to often and you won’t get the unit to take the humidity out of the air like it is suppose to do. Get a professional do a heat calculation and size your unit properly.. Thanks Willie

Jim Roberson // April 8, 2013

What makes one A/C unit more efficient than another? thks

Energy Expert
Energy Expert // April 9, 2013

This month’s Ask the Expert spurred many questions about Participating Independent Contractors (PICs). Thanks for joining the conversation! A list of PICs can be accessed here: http://www.fpl.com/pic

Carl Moen // April 10, 2013

Customers should know that older air units may be using a different gas that is no longer allowed and a dfferwnt gas is the standard used. So not only the outside unit must be replace but the inside unit also Replacement can be very expensive.

Energy Expert
Energy Expert // April 12, 2013

Some customers have asked, how do I find out the SEER of my A/C unit. Well, unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer. The answer depends on the rating of each component (air handler & condenser) and the rating of the combination of both, when connected together. We suggest that you look for the nameplate on each component, write down the model numbers and call the manufacturer of the unit. Or, another option is to contact a Participating Independent Contractor and they can help. Hope that helps!

Carman roccia // April 12, 2013

where are there PIC contractors near me my zip 33066 and are ther rebates if my unit is lower than 3 tons

mary cappeli // April 13, 2013

I own a one bedroom condo and the air conditioner needs to be replaced. What kind should I get, what size and can you recommend two or three companies I could get prices from?
I don’t want to spend a lot. The unit is only used three or four months January-April. And the value has depreciated so much, I am losing money and don’t want to spend excess amount.
thank you.

Jake Bornstein // April 15, 2013

Just read your comments on when to replace an A/C unit.

How about the water heater? I have a 850 sq ft apartment condo.
I occupy this unit seasonally and shut off the water heater when I leave.
However it has a small, older water heater under the sink.
Am I asking for trouble if I don’t replace it?

Elion Technologies And Consulting Pvt Ltd // April 18, 2013

Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling.

Mike Beaudry // April 19, 2013

Good advice for home owners. I completly agree. As an owner of two medium sized HVAC companies, a solar pool heating company, a small roofing company & a small custom home builder in Florida I feel like the hype of S>E>E>R
(((COOLING-Seasonal energy efficiancy rating)))
is putting other great products on hold to home owners that invest too much money in a false cooling number (seer). The ac equipment installed in your home is just a small part of the big picture… You have to upgrade the duct work to ensure the new system even comes close to manufacture testing to get that magical SEER #. And of course less than 25% of home owners do so because the proffesional AC man does not explain this properly, mostly due to the undesired hard work involved in ducting homes in a hot attic…Old duct work mixed with a new high seer unit, there goes your seer..”right out the attic”

Not to mention in heating mode HSPF, (heating seasonal performance factor) is very low 7 & 8′s. So much for saving money as soon as it gets cold….

A 13 seer is all you need, add a hot water recovery to it for free hot water almost all year long, big savings to homeowner and big help on the air cooled compressor that can not keep cool with Florida summer heat. Why are commercial customers so far ahead of the residential market on avaiable efficiancy products.

Hot water recovery is used in less than 1% of homes as of 2012. 20 years ago every home used this easy money saving product. Heck even Home Depot stocks residential hot water recovery systems..No one has a clue what they are..And worse the professional HVAC companies dont even offer them unless your name starts with commercial.

If a 16 seer is so much more efficiant how come it cant give you free hot water??? It could if your HVAC Tech. & plumber put there heads togeather…HMMMM

Install a 1 ton fully DC solar powered (((NO electric from homes electric power)) mini split air conditioning system in the main part of home and give the power companies a break almost all summer long. Let the sun save your hard earned monies while your at work not even home to enjoy that expensive cold air when your AC powered big system runs itself to death.

For pool owners, use a free pool heater and tap into your air cooled condenser to make the compressor work half as hard by heating your swimming pool for free….1- 5ton ac unit can heat a normal size pool in less than 1 day… No gas, no extra electric, just your normal home ac that runs reguardless if you use or waste all that heat energy.

Solar powered attic fans..No electric, completely free power after installed.
Why are these not code for roofers???
Instead the roofing industry comes out with a terriable ridge top vent that is less than 2 inches wide instead of the old 4 & 8 foot attic vents. The new fancy ridge top vents are not worth a flip getting heat out of the attic.
Heck even Home Depot stocks a cheap solar attic fan…
And once again the professionals do not even offer these items to home owners..
Do your job Ac Men & women…U want to make a diffrence..Then offer residential customers more than just a SEER….

Our companies have not had a day off sice we opened our doors in 2004 because we have not one single competitor that offers the products that we offer….It is a crying shame… Help Americans save there hard earned money by getting informed on the great products avaiable in todays world…. Good Luck B-Cool

Garret // April 22, 2013

You always should consider when to repair, and existing unit, or to replace it all together! There are many new units out now that are far more efficient even than a few years ago! Your local HVAC contractor should be able to give you some insight!

ralph seaman // April 26, 2013

Is the rebate eligible for a Mobile Home as well?

Henry // May 7, 2013

You should save some money with the newer model, but what most folks fail to consider is, how well there exterior doors are sealing the climate controlled air inside. If cracks have formed around the window seals, and how efficient their wall, and roof insulation is.

David Alvarez // June 16, 2013

no doubt … if we change our air conditioning unit with a new high efficiency, significant savings have an impact on our pockets, but still remember that it is this unit for the appliance in a house so increased consumption is there.
Therefore rational use is essential today hopefully in next time to develop and promote more photovoltaic energy, which would be the real solution to this state of Florida

P. Roland Rigaud // June 19, 2013

Good information.

Thank you

Janet // July 10, 2013

Should I expect and itemized bill for replacing an old air conditioning and heating unit?

Edmond De Rogatis // August 10, 2013

I have a 5 ton trane the seer is 17 an A C person came out to clean the coils and told me the filter that came with the m achine is not as good as the permint type is he right? by the way I keep my filter clean thank you Ed De Rogatis

Sandie Cox // August 29, 2013

I just replaced my 20 year old AC system last week – how can I check to see if the contractor is a Participating Independent Contractor?

Randolph Reed // January 10, 2014

How do I know what size a/c unit based on sq ft of home.

mary solheim // January 10, 2014

I live across the street from the ocean. We have a very high corrosion rate on our AC. It is losing its finns. I hear it is possible to get AC that has been precoated when u buy Or possibly can be treated when the AC is new. Do anyone have any information on this?

Joseph D. Miller // January 11, 2014

Is there any problem with a over size. I mean I been using a 12 seer the last 10 years, now going into a 14 or higher seer?

Joseph D. Miller // January 11, 2014

I didn’t mean to cancel. Would there be a problem by going over size?

Matt // January 12, 2014

My FPL contractor was GRREAT! He checked out the ducts as well because some rooms hardly got any air. Long story short Steve Hoskins in Cocoa Beach could not get any better. Never in my life did I trust a contractor like I did him. Normally I get at 3 bids, I got one, his. He replaced the duct work, added returns, replaced the a/c and my bill literally dropped in half. The rooms that were hot are almost too cold now.

MrsTucci // March 18, 2014

I own a rental property in the FPL service area. Would I be eligible for FPL rebates on installing an energy efficient AC unit or would they go directly to the tenant in whose name the power is registered


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