Buying a new central air conditioner is not fun. The average home owner may only buy one or two in a life time. The most important thing to do before even choosing a brand is to choose a company you can trust.
The average life span for a central air conditioner is 8 to 14 years To estimate your potential savings, look for the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) number on your current AC unit. If it is 10 SEER or less, definitely consider replacement.
The SEER rating is the number of BTUs of cooling energy per watt-hour of electricity. Prior to 2006, air conditioners were required to have a minimum SEER rating of 10. Today, central air conditioners must have a minimum SEER rating of 13, and Energy Star-labeled air conditioners must be rated at least 14. Higher efficiency models have SEER ratings up to 26.
The difference in annual operating cost between SEER 10 and SEER 13 air conditioners is substantial. Though costs vary widely, the average family in Florida can expect to pay $722 per year to cool a home with an air conditioner rated at SEER 10. The same family could spend $559, or $163 less, for a season of cooling with a SEER 13 air conditioner. Jumping up to SEER 18 would bring another $100 in savings.
Price varies according to efficiency, quality, size and company. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.