It is inevitable to replace your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system at some point. Usually, these units last for 15 to 20 years before they break down. That begs the question, when is the best time of year to replace HVAC?
I have been without air conditioning during summer, and I know how uncomfortable this can be. You don’t want to wait for your AC unit to conk out right in midsummer or some time in winter when it is frosty outside.
Knowing the best time of the year to replace your HVAC system can save you money and the frustration of staying without air conditioning.
Best Time of Year to Replace HVAC System
It is best to replace your air conditioning system during the off-season.
By off-season, we are referring to spring and fall when the temperatures are generally mild. You will not have any problem going without air conditioning while the system is down for the replacement service.
Suppose you live somewhere in North America; the off-season should start from the first week of March to mid-May and then again from the final week of September to late November.
Replacing your air conditioning system during these times of the year has a ton of benefits. Let us look at them one by one.
Why the off-season is the best
Several reasons make spring and fall the best times of the year to install a new HVAC system.
1. You will not get stuck in line waiting for a contractor
Summer and winter months are peak seasons for HVAC technicians. The AC unit has to work hardest as these are the hottest and coldest months, respectively.
With that increased HVAC work comes the need to constantly service the units. The best and most reputable service companies tend to have their hands full during these months.
You will always find them busy replacing or repairing all those systems that have conked out under strain.
On the contrary, HVAC systems rarely break down during the off-season since there is a low demand for air conditioning at these times of the year.
The reduced incidents of HVAC system failure in spring and fall mean that contractors are generally less busy.
Often, you will find them literally waiting for jobs and can be available to attend to you at your convenience.
2. Pricing is better during the off-season.
As with many industries, reduced demand for HVAC system servicing and replacement in spring and fall tends to drive down the prices.
You can easily get a reputable company to offer you a considerable discount on your replacement. At these times, companies have less work and may offer various savings incentives to attract more customers.
This means you can negotiate terms and save money off the deal. Fall months are also a slower season for HVAC equipment manufacturers.
Therefore, discounts and rebates tend to be expected, which you can leverage. The idea is to plan ahead of time and take advantage of every pricing incentive you can get your hands on.
This includes researching and applying for financing options such as home equity lines of credit to help you acquire a new HVAC system at the lowest possible interest rate.
During peak seasons, you would be out of luck negotiating for lower charges when HVAC companies work full capacity.
You will often want to jump at the first contractor available irrespective of their pricing or quality of work.
Peak seasons simply do not put you in a position to negotiate how much you want to pay or how well you want the work done.
3. You can avoid surprise heating costs when you target the off-season
Suppose your heat pump shows signs of reaching its autumn years; going with it into winter would be akin to putting your wallet at risk.
Such a relic can always break down without notice or become unable to keep up with the heating demands of your home.
You would have to turn to the auxiliary electric heat strips that are far less energy efficient. With this alternative, you might be shocked to receive a much higher utility bill than you are used to.
Replacing your heat pump during fall will help you avoid having to rely on auxiliary electric heat strips come winter – along with any surprises associated with that alternative.
4. Enjoy better energy efficiency when you most need it
The summer and winter months are the times when you need your HVAC system the most. Because the heating and cooling system works hardest during these months, it is likely to consume the most electricity at these times.
As such, you are likely to save the most on your energy bills if your HVAC unit is energy efficient during these peak seasons.
Modern heating and cooling units are far more energy-efficient than those installed a decade ago or earlier. Furthermore, HVAC systems tend to become less energy-efficient over time.
You can expect a system that has served you for a decade or longer to use much more energy per BTU today. This means installing a new system today will most certainly reduce your heating and cooling expenditure.
Carry out the replacement just before summer or winter, and you can see your heating and cooling bills create a much-reduced dent in your wallet.
5. Precaution – staying without AC can be devastating in summer
You don’t want your old air conditioning system to go out right when you need it most, whether this is during a snowfall on Christmas Eve or the dog days of late July.
Your older system might have no problem making it through the spring and fall because there is generally little strain on it during these months.
However, that may change when the hottest and coldest months of the year push it to the limits. With the long waits during these peak seasons, it can be devastating to have your HVAC system break down.
How long can your family survive without air conditioning? You don’t want to deal with that question. And getting a new AC unit in spring or fall is the best way out.
How Do You Know it is Time to Replace a Working HVAC System?
You will want to get a replacement for your current heating or cooling unit when it starts to give you the signs.
These may include when it is extremely old, has sustained irreparable damage, repairing would be costlier than replacing, or is no longer cooling or heating properly.
In any of these instances, replacing your HVAC unit with a new one will bring the peace of mind that your family needs.
Usually, an old system may stop cooling or heating properly or the AC starts then stops after a few seconds – time to retire it.
How Do You Tell When the System is Old Enough?
HVAC systems can last between 15 and 20 years. Therefore, you should consider your unit old enough as soon as it hits the 15-year old mark.
At this point, you should begin to think about a viable replacement anytime. Is the furnace having problems from time to time?
Does our AC have a dead capacitor making the compressor contactor unable to start? Is your AC unit using the R-22 refrigerant?
This list can go on much further than this. In any case, it would be time to install new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system if your answer was positive to one or more of these questions.
It will also be time to replace your AC unit if it has a refrigerant leak. The refrigerant is typically designed to last the entire lifetime of your air conditioning system.
Leaking could come from old age or a defect that might be more costly to fix than replacing the unit. All said any time of the year could be best for installing a new cooling and heating system.
However, as you can see from this guide, you will likely get a better deal if you replace the system during fall or spring.
So, ensure you are proactive with installing a new HVAC unit in your home to make the most out of it.
Ronald Watford, the owner of Quality Home Air Care, is a qualified HVACR technician and manages the team of expert writers on this site. He believes that educating homeowners about HVAC systems is one of the most impactful aspects of his job.