If you have lived here in Southeast Texas for more than an hour during the summer, you know how brutal the heat and humidity can be. Air conditioning here isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity for survival. But just like anything mechanical, the older it is the less efficient it is. Not only do time and environmental factors such as salt air near the coast take their toll, but technology progresses and cooling systems become more and more efficient.

Note: With passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, homeowners may be able to claim tax credits equal to 30% of the installed costs (up to $1,500) if you upgrade to more energy-efficient HVAC equipment. For more information on these HVAC tax credits, click here.

 

So how old is your A/C system?

In 2006, a federal regulation mandated that central cooling systems had to have a minimum S.E.E.R. (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating of 13. Up to that point, the minimum rating had been 10. So what does that mean to you? Basically, the higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the central air conditioning unit and the less electricity you’ll need to cool your home. Even 6 year old systems are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards.

According to Consumer Reports, “A central air conditioning unit rated at a 13 SEER uses up to 30 percent less electricity than a 10 SEER system. With higher energy costs predicted in many parts of the country, consumers will have that payback on the unit much quicker with less electricity being used.” Considering that going from, say, a 10 S.E.E.R. system to something like a 16 S.E.E.R. could save you an average of 50-60% on your electric bills, a new high-efficiency system can pay for itself a lot more quickly than you might think.

Also, a new system is going to be quieter, as well as simply make your home more comfortable. And finally, a new high-efficiency cooling system is going to add significantly to your home’s resale value.

You worked hard for your money all last year. If you are anticipating a tax refund, consider making an investment in your family’s comfort and your home’s value.