Summer Home Improvement Project? The Top 3 AC Upgrades


Are you ready to upgrade your home’s HVAC system this summer? Your electricity bills are suddenly higher than in past summers and the system seems old. You know you want to repair, replace, or change some of your systems — but you’re not sure where to start. Before you bring in contractors for estimates, take a look at the top AC upgrade options to explore right now.

A Completely New AC System

This is the largest, and most comprehensive, upgrade to make. While a completely new system isn’t always necessary, you may want to consider a replacement for your old air conditioner if:

  • You want a different type of system. You have a forced air central AC system. But you want something that can cool your home in zones. If you aren’t satisfied with the type of cooling that your system provides, talk to a professional about the other options.
  • Your system is old. While an older system can still cool your home, it is more likely to break down or cost extra in energy costs than a new high-efficiency air conditioner.
  • You’re sure the old system costs more to use. Along with age, poor installation, the wrong sized central unit, refrigerant leaks, worn air ducts, and dirty filters can increase energy-related costs.

If your primary reason for replacement is the cost of use, ask an HVAC professional about a home energy audit. This can help you to understand where the energy losses come from and whether a new air conditioning system can reduce these losses and the related costs or not.

A Smart Thermostat

An older, worn, or damaged thermostat can impact how your system works. This applies to both old and new central AC systems. When a thermostat doesn’t work properly, it can force the AC system into unnecessary cooling time. This increases overall energy usage and can cost you money in unexpected or high utility bills. If you’re not sure whether you should choose a smart thermostat replacement right now, consider the age of your current model and whether you feel it works well for your home.

A smart thermostat allows you to control the temperature at each point in the day. Instead of manual adjustments that you make to the thermostat itself, a smart model allows you to adjust the temperature from almost anywhere via your smartphone and an app. The benefits of a smart model include:

  • Save money over time. According to the U.S. government’s Energy Star website, you could save up to $100 annually on cooling costs with an Energy Star certified smart thermostat.
  • Give you greater control. Do you need to cool your home when you aren’t there? While there’s nobody inside to feel the cool air, you don’t want to walk into a warm house. A smart thermostat allows you to control the temperature from anywhere.
  • Help you integrate your home. Complete your smart home with the addition of a smart thermostat. This is one of the many tech devices you can use to fully automate and integrate the interior space.

Before you invest in a smart thermostat, talk to an HVAC professional about the options. Decide why you want a smart thermostat and what you hope to get out of it. Make sure the model you choose has the features (in the thermostat itself and in the app that controls it) necessary to cut energy costs and keep your home cool.

An Air Duct Upgrade

Out of sight, out of mind is something that may apply to your home’s air ducts. Even though you can’t see ducts inside of the walls or ceiling spaces, you shouldn’t forget about them. An air duct upgrade is a top option for homeowners if:

  • Your air ducts leak. This issue isn’t always apparent. Leaky ducts can lead to significant cooling (and energy) losses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. An HVAC technician can inspect the visible ductwork and assess the system to learn more about leaks.
  • Your air ducts have severe damage. Severe damage may go beyond a gap or break. Replace ducts that are loose/falling apart, have holes or have deep dents. Dented ducts can stop the air flow. This forces your system to work harder.
  • Your air ducts aren’t insulated. Lack of insulation won’t require a full replacement. Instead, you may need the technician to add extra insulation to exposed/exterior parts of the ducts.

These upgrades only apply to forced air central cooling systems. Homes with mini-split systems typically don’t have air ducts. The mini-split air conditioner uses an outdoor compressor and indoor air handlers to cool each interior space. Mini-split owners can skip the duct discussion and focus on other, more applicable, upgrades.

Are you ready to replace or upgrade your home’s air conditioning system? Do you need to know more about your choices, thermostats, ducts, and other options? Contact Steele Brothers Heating, Inc. for more information.

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