The Top 3 Benefits of Upgrading Your HVAC System

HVAC System

As homes across the country grow older, many homeowners find themselves facing the decision of whether to repair or replace their aging heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Upgrading outdated or failing equipment comes with considerable upfront costs, leading some to put off an upgrade as long as possible. However, deferring a new system in hopes of saving money often proves to be a false economy.

New HVAC systems offer homeowners substantially improved efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality over outdated equipment. As units age, repairs tend to become more frequent and parts harder to find while energy bills steadily increase. Replacing an HVAC system before it fails outright can eliminate many future headaches and expenses down the road.

For homeowners weighing the costs and benefits of an upgrade, the following are the top 3 advantages newer, more advanced HVAC systems provide.

1. Higher Efficiency Ratings Yield Major Utility Savings

Without question, the number one benefit of upgrading an aging HVAC system is far lower monthly energy bills. The efficiency benchmarks for heating and cooling equipment have advanced considerably over the past couple of decades. Switching out an old unit for one meeting today’s exacting standards offers major utility savings.

The metric used to gauge HVAC efficiency is known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER rating. The higher the number, the more efficient the equipment. While a SEER 13 system was once considered relatively efficient, the current minimum standard has been raised to SEER 14. Today’s best new units achieve SEER ratings of 18-20, representing a 30-50% boost in operational efficiency compared to outdated counterparts.

For a homeowner cooling a 2,500 square foot house in Ocala, Florida, replacing a 15-year old SEER 10 system with a new SEER 16 unit cuts their cooling costs substantially.

While the example above uses cooling equipment, similar efficiency gains can be achieved with heating systems as well. The key annual metric used is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor or HSPF rating. Making an upgrade from an 8.0 HSPF furnace to a 9.5 or greater HSPF model yields comparable long term cost savings.

For homeowners seeking both heating and cooling upgrades, reports show that replacing an aging complete HVAC system with a new high efficiency counterpart returns the entire upgrade cost in energy savings within 5-7 years. With modern HVAC units lasting upwards of 15-20 years, upgrading efficiency clearly pays future dividends for those planning to stay in their home long term.

2. Enhanced Comfort Through Improved Humidity Control

While dropping utility bills offers motivation enough for most homeowners to upgrade their HVAC system, enhanced comfort provides another major incentive. Comfort encompasses not just steady interior temperatures, but proper humidity control as well. Many older systems struggle to regulate indoor moisture levels efficiently.

Adding centralized air conditioning inherently helps regulate humidity inside a home. However, older units without variable speed components often cool rooms down too rapidly. Turning these systems off once a comfortable temperature is reached causes humidity levels to spike back up. Newer variable capacity systems eliminate such rapid temperature swings. Optimized moisture removal keeps indoor humidity consistently within the 40-60% comfort range.

For homeowners with outdated evaporative coolers, upgrading to modern compressor-based air conditioning makes an even bigger humidity control impact. Swamp coolers provide negligible dehumidification. Replacing them with new, properly-sized AC systems can slash indoor relative humidity from sweltering 70-80% levels down to acceptable standards.

On the heating side, upgraded furnaces with multi-stage or modulating burners help regulate humidity in winter. Slow, steady heat output avoids over-drying indoor air to uncomfortable levels below 30% relative humidity. Optimized moisture control enhances occupant comfort regardless of the season.

For homeowners seeking both enhanced comfort and utility savings, installing a new high efficiency central air handler equipped with variable capacity compressors hits both targets. Keeping temperatures steady while managing humidity offers homeowners noticeable comfort dividends from an HVAC upgrade.

3. Better Indoor Air Quality Safeguards Health

Indoor air quality represents the third major benefit gained by upgrading to a modern HVAC system. Protecting a home’s air quality safeguards occupant health, especially for those susceptible to respiratory ailments like asthma. Key facets that influence air quality include effective filtration, proper ventilation and the cleanliness of a system’s coils and ductwork.

On the filtration front, older 1” fiberglass filters capture only a small fraction of airborne dust and allergens. Upgrading to a system equipped with 4”-5” pleated media filters provides greatly enhanced particle removal down to around 3-5 microns. This traps most mold spores along with pollen and other microscopic irritants. Homeowners can augment filtration further by adding on high performance HEPA filters during seasons when allergies flare up.

Fresh air ventilation also factors prominently into a home’s air quality. While open windows seem like a straightforward way to exchange stale interior air, outdoor pollens and pollutants often infiltrate instead. A superior solution is installing a new HVAC system equipped with an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). ERVs employ a heat exchanger core to temper outdoor air before circulating it inside, promoting air exchange without compromising comfort or efficiency.

Finally, dirty evaporator coils and ductwork tainted by mold growth or dust accumulation degrade indoor air quality over time. Upgrading to a new HVAC system essentially resets the clock. New efficient components keep airflow clean, while improved filtration helps maintain system cleanliness longer term. Taken together, these facets all contribute to healthier indoor air compared to outdated equipment.

For homeowners who have family members with respiratory issues like asthma aggravated by indoor allergens, dust and humidity, upgrading an aging HVAC system checks multiple boxes. Enhanced filtration, ventilation and humidity control combine to create interior conditions less likely to trigger allergic reactions or asthma flare ups.

Replacing an aging, inefficient HVAC system represents a major investment for any homeowner. However, upgrading before outright failure occurs provides the opportunity to reap lower energy bills, enhanced comfort and improved indoor air quality for years to come. Weighing these tangible benefits against the costs of unexpected repairs down the road often reveals upgrading sooner as the wise long term choice.

Homeowners seeking guidance on whether to repair or replace their HVAC equipment can turn to the website of qualified local professionals like Attic Man. Their skilled technicians conduct thorough assessments of existing systems, then offer trusted recommendations on the most prudent path forward based on a home’s unique requirements.

When faced with an aging HVAC system that requires frequent repairs, homeowners have a major decision to make. Investing in upgrades represents a significant upfront cost, leading some to defer replacements as long as possible. However, continuously sinking money into an outdated unit often adds up to more expense compared to upgrading. New high efficiency systems last longer while saving on energy and maintenance costs over extended lifetimes. They also keep homes more comfortable through optimized humidity control and air quality safeguards. For those focused on the long view, upgrading before outright failure provides the most prudent path. Turning to qualified local HVAC companies can help homeowners objectively weigh the pros and cons of replacement versus sticking with repairs. In many cases, investing in a new system winds up being the smarter, more cost-effective choice.