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When to replace an A/C unit

By FPL Expert

Asked on: March 11, 2013 by Sandra G., Boca Raton, FL

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 [67]

  1. MrsTucci

    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

  2. peggy

    The problem with high efficiency AC is it isn’t running long enough to remove enough humidity from the air. I would rather pay for more electricity and have less humidity/more comfort. Our high efficiency heat pump always smells musty.

  3. Charlie McPoyle

    Last summer I had to replace my AC unit. It started with low efficiency of cooling throughout entire house to not working at all. How many years do AC units last? http://www.springerbros.net

  4. Matt

    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.

  5. Willie

    I’ve heard that you can also use a heat pump to heat your hot water. This would be a good topic for you all to lok into. If you have a program that rewards people for such GREAT ideas, Please email me and i will tell you where you can send the REWARD. Thanks a MILLION Willie

  6. Joseph D. Miller

    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?

    1. Joseph D. Miller

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

  7. mary solheim

    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?

  8. Randolph Reed

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

  9. Sandie Cox

    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?

  10. Edmond De Rogatis

    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

  11. Janet

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

  12. Phyllis Gallin


    MY QUOTE IS $8337

  13. P. Roland Rigaud

    Good information.

    Thank you

  14. David Alvarez

    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

  15. Henry

    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.

  16. ralph seaman

    Is the rebate eligible for a Mobile Home as well?

  17. Garret

    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!

  18. Mike Beaudry

    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

    1. Tony


      How do we contact you? I would like to learn more about the solar attic fans and the free heating of the pool.


  19. Elion Technologies And Consulting Pvt Ltd

    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.

  20. Jake Bornstein

    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?

  21. mary cappeli

    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.

  22. Carman roccia

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

  23. Energy Expert

    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!

  24. Carl Moen

    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.

  25. Energy Expert

    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

  26. Jim Roberson

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

  27. rod scott

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

    1. Willie

      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

  28. Linda Dean

    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.

  29. Elsie Zimmer

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

  30. Virgil Orff

    o you have a list of local contractors tp replace

  31. Kathy

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

  32. Monica Reiley

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


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

  33. Stuart Driver

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

  34. Michele McGruie

    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.

  35. Frederick C Hertel

    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.

  36. mel paul

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

  37. Clarence Jones

    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.

  38. ted jeffries

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

  39. Jean Andolsen

    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.

  40. hansroetzer

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

  41. Geraldine Vaccaro

    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

  42. carole soling

    Where can I get a list of participating independent contractors?

  43. Ralph Green

    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

  44. Joan

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

  45. elizabeth engle

    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

    1. dennis

      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.

  46. michael wells

    Is westbrook a participating partner??

  47. Miguel Prieto

    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

  48. Marie

    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.

  49. Frederic Friedman

    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?

  50. frank schumann

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

  51. Linda Wallander

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

  52. Sally

    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?

  53. Joan Chase

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

  54. jill

    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

    1. eric

      humidistat at 55% thermostat at 78-80 when away

    2. Eric

      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

    3. Eric

      a 2011 system can be no less that a 13 seer

    4. Eric


  55. Alexander Alvarez

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

  56. rick hillier

    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?

  57. Ryan Bradley

    Great stuff Craig, thanks for the advice!

    1. Richard Gosch

      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


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