No matter which part of the country you’re in, there’s at least a couple of months out of the year when it gets really hard to live without air conditioning. It’s also getting harder to find homes for sale on the market that don’t have A/C. All of which means that chances are, at some point you’re probably going to have to spring for a new air conditioner installation. Even if you move into a home with a freshly-installed A/C unit, you’ve got about 15 years before it’s got to be replaced. So when the day comes that repairing your air conditioning is no longer an option, you’re going to be looking for ways to save money to stay cool. This post can help you do that.
Cleanliness and Maintenance
The first way to save money on air conditioning installation is to properly maintain your current unit. This can help prolong its life expectancy and save you money on repairs. There are a few things you can do yourself to save money on a professional service call including:
- Consulting the user’s manual and changing the air filter yourself
- Making sure there’s two feet of clearance around the outside unit
- Clearing any debris like leaves, twigs, and pollen from the unit
- Making sure the outside unit is on a level surface
- Checking the insulation around the cooling hoses for any cracks
- Pouring a mild bleach/water solution down the drainage pipe to prevent mold and algae buildup
- Cleaning the vents inside your home
- If you’re feeling especially handy, you can clean the coils yourself as well. Check out this Bob Vila post on how to do that
Look for Rebates, Discounts, and Sales
There are a lot of air conditioning manufacturers out there and even more installers. It might be tempting to go with your cheapest option but if you’re A/C keeps breaking down or if the installation is so bad it has to be re-done, you end up spending a lot more than you would have for a quality unit installed by an accredited professional. Having said that, going to the other extreme and paying top dollar for power you don’t need is also a waste of money. Ideally, you want a solid unit from a known brand installed by a reputable company.
When looking for rebates, discounts and sales on air conditioners, it’s a good idea to start by checking out installers and big box stores to see if you can get a deal on both the air conditioner and the installation. Home Install Experts, for instance, offers a 10% discount to Sam’s Club members for both. No matter who you decide to go with for your installation, just remember to check out Better Business Bureau and/or Angie’s List before you commit to make sure they’re on the up-and-up.
If you decide to price out air conditioners and installations separately, here are the rebate pages for three of the most well-known air conditioning brands when you’re ready to install new air conditioning:
Keep in mind that often the rebates being offered are for higher-end models that could end up costing you more than you need to spend. When shopping around for air conditioning units, you have to consider the square footage of your home, how many floors are and how much insulation you have. Buying an A/C unit that’s too large for your home will cause the A/C to keep cycling on and off, wasting money on your energy bill and an A/C unit that’s too small just won’t be able to handle cooling your entire home.
You’ll also want to read reviews on sites like Consumer Reports about any model you’re considering to find out what experiences other people have had with the same unit. Just because it’s from a known brand, that doesn’t guarantee it will work the way you expect it to.
Another thing to keep in mind when looking for an air conditioning unit – the warranty. Most A/C units come with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers the parts and equipment for anywhere for 5 to 15 years, which could sway your decision one way or the other. You may be offered a contractor’s warranty that costs extra but that covers parts and labor and may extend the life of the warranty. Couple of things to keep in mind, a new air conditioner should last anywhere from 15-20 years according to Energy Saver, and you’ll want to know how much regular service visits will cost and compare that number to the price of the extended warranty.
For more savings, you can also check the DSIRE database (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) to find out if your state and local governments are currently offering incentives, rebates or tax breaks for installing a new, energy-efficient air conditioning unit.