Tag: Air Conditioning

Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air Conditioner

Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air ConditionerOur furnace just quit working and our air conditioning unit is 27 years old! Amazing life cycle and it still works. The furnace is only 14 years old and we are trying to figure out if we should rent or buy your furnace and air conditioner or just repair it. Most people would just say replace it.

After all the AC unit does not owe you anything and it will likely quit sometime soon anyway. We could perhaps just repair the furnace and hope for the best. However we wondered what the economics would be considering repairing the furnace or replacing both the furnace and the AC unit. Also a third scenario has been proposed and that would be to rent both units. The price would include all cleaning and servicing for as long as we paid the monthly payment. My initial reaction was to always purchase however when you do the math, there is a surprising answer.

Rent or Buy Your Furnace and Air Conditioner

We assumed a 15 year study life, a cost of $9500 to purchase the units, a cost of $25 a month to provide service and warranty once the manufacturers warranty was finished. We also assumed a cost of $700 for repairs which would last for one year. The rent scenario assumes $50 a month for the furnace and $45 a month for the AC unit including all servicing and warranties.

Using these numbers it makes sense to rent if you are planning on 12 years or less to rent. It makes sense to purchase if you feel that the units will last longer than 11 years which they should. However I need to find $9500 to pay for the installation and I still need to pay $25 a month for insurance.

I can finance the cost of the furnace etc.  Or I could use some of my savings to pay for these units and forego any income I might get from the current investments. I am fortunate to collect 3% on my investments at the present time. This is a real cost to me which I would save if I were to rent the furnace and the AC unit.

This income when factored in changes the breakeven period from 11 years to 20 years. This is probably more than the life cycle of these new units and longer than I plan to live in the house.

I still need to confirm all of the estimates with actual quotations. However I am definitely leaning towards renting and not making a purchase at this point.

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Buy or Rent Air Conditioner

Buy or Rent Air ConditionerWould you buy or rent air conditioner equipment? The answer might surprise you and it really depends on the assumptions you make regarding the costs involved. The first step is to obtain several quotes for replacing your air conditioner through a purchase plan and also renting it if this program is available. Most people can do a straight line comparison of the total cost of the unit installed vs. paying monthly rental fees. There will be a break even amount at some point in the future, which could be around 10 years depending on the assumptions and the actual costs.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of insurance for service and maintenance if you purchase your own AC unit.  If you plan to be in the home longer than this breakeven number of years, you may want to consider a further refinement of the numbers to do a proper comparison.

Buy or Rent Air Conditioner

For example, if your cost will be $5000 and you have the $5000 available, how much interest are you collecting on that $5000 today. If it is just sitting in a bank account collecting very little interest, then this next step will not be of much interest to you.

On the other hand if it is invested in something such as a stock paying 3 or 4% dividends, then you really have to factor in the lost income associated with cashing in the stock to pay for the new AC unit. Four percent will pay $200 a year for as long as you own the stock and possibly more from gains in the value of the stock as well as dividend increases.

This income will help to offset the rental cost of the air conditioning a considerable amount and move the breakeven number further out to where it might be interesting to rent instead of purchasing your air conditioning unit. Take a look at the previous post about rent vs. buying a furnace and air conditioning for a more direct example.

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Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Is central air conditioning better than split or room air conditioning? Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems is a question we have wondered about for some time. There are pro’s and con’s to both which we will list in this post! Before we begin, we thought we should explain these terms so that everyone is on the same page. Central AC is installed in many homes and means essentially what it implies. There is one air conditioning unit that provides cool air throughout the home from one location usually in the basement for homes with basements and from just about any other location in homes with no basement including the roof. There is one unit outside that is attached to the furnace which blows cool air throughout the house.

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems have much different foot prints and cost models. Room air conditioners are usually found in one room, sitting in the window and will only cool the room they are in and perhaps adjacent rooms if they are small and the doors are left open. Most people will locate them in the bedroom so that they can get a good nights sleep. These systems are noisy and the fans are loud, so they are something you should get used to.

Split AC Systems

Split air conditioning systems are usually for larger homes and may have an AC unit for each end of the home or for different floors. There will be multiple forced air furnaces as well to blow the cooled air throughout the section of the home that they are to cool. Separate thermostats are provided so that the sleeping area for example can be kept cooler than the rest of the home to enable better sleeping conditions. Various circumstances or design of the home will require different configurations of AC units.

The following are some of the characteristics as well as pros and cons for each:

Central AC

  • most rooms are at the same temperature
  • opening and closing vents is used to control specific room temperature and cost
  • 2nd floor rooms will be hotter
  • Basement will be cold
  • costs are high to cool entire home

Room AC

  • only rooms were AC is will be cool
  • usually in rooms for sleeping
  • cost is lower
  • must endure hot rooms in parts of the house
  • Must endure the noise of the AC fan in the room

Split AC

  • Multiple units outside the home
  • Larger home means more cost
  • Can control temperature in different parts of the home
  • May need to close off sections of the house if not in use

Older homes or homes that are heated with electricity baseboard heaters that do not have any way of forcing air throughout the home will typically go for in room AC, while homes that are heated with forced air gas or oil furnaces can take advantage of central or split AC systems. All air conditioning is expensive to run, using a lot of electricity. Any time you can shut the system off or increase the temperature will reduce the amount of electricity you are using and reduce your electrical bill as well.

If you are on time of day electrical billing with a so called smart meter, you may also want to program your AC so that it runs mostly at night when the cost of electricity is at a lower rate compared to the daytime cost of electricity. Evening rates can sometimes be as much as 50% less than peak rates for electrical use.


Cooling Your Roof

Cooling Your RoofWe saw a question posed by a reader about spraying water on the roof in the summer time when it is really hot. The idea was to spray water on the roof cooling your roof down and this in turn may decrease the cost of cooling the house with AC. She did this at dusk when the sun was going down and it did cool her roof down significantly and the house was actually cooler as well. She succeeded in cooling her house and she also mentioned that the neighbors thought she was nuts. They wanted to know if this was a smart thing to do and if it would save energy.

Cooling Your Roof

The writer or the blog owner of the site that this idea was written on thought this was a really great idea. He had wanted to do this himself but did not have a hose with a sprayer that was strong enough. There is no doubt that spraying water on the roof will cool the roof. But is this really a smart thing to do?

The reason this has such a cooling effect is that the heat from your roof (and inside your attic) is being used to warm the water and then evaporate it. Evaporation is a cooling process (which is why sweating makes us feel cooler), so you wind up lowering the temperature of the roof itself substantially. This reduces the heat gain from the roof to the attic and from the attic to inside your house.

Concern About Spraying Water on the Roof

We are very concerned about this answer and also that many people might actually even try this. Not only is it a waste of water, but anyone who pays for their water by the gallon is going to get a huge surprise at the end of the  month if they do this very often. The money they save on cooling the house if any will be quickly used up by a higher water bill. Water is expensive in some areas and this action of spraying your roof can end up costing quite a bit.

Another concern is the impact on the shingles. When water is sprayed on the roof it will cool the shingles. There is no doubt of this, but now you have one side very cool and the other is still very hot. Over time this will cause the shingles to twist and crack and prematurely age the roof, which could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Any savings you received from cooling the roof in this manner, will quickly be lost with the cost of a replacement roof. A replacement roof will cost several thousand dollars  depending on the size of your roof.

What Should the Home Owner Do

The writer would be better off to make sure that the roof is well vented so that hot air which rises can vent out the roof vents at the top of the roof and cooler air would be drawn in at the bottom of the roof. Placing trees around your house to provide shade and also lowering blinds inside your home to block the sun coming in would be far more efficient. Not only is the air flow automatic when the vents are properly sized, you do not have to remember to spray the roof every day to cool it off.

Depending on the size of your roof and the construction of your home you may need to have more than one roof vent. Each gable and each roof area should have vents that allow the hot air to escape from your attic and dissipate the heat. There should also be sufficient openings that allow cooler air to enter the roof as well at the eaves. Hot air rises and this is what you are trying to take advantage of. Air will flow in at the eaves and out through the roof vents which will have the effect of cooling the roof with no damage to the shingles.

On a large roof you may need to have as many as three or four vents to ensure that you have sufficient air flow to properly cool the air in your attic which in turn will keep the rest of the home cool.

We do not think that spraying water on a roof is a very good idea and would really recommend that home owners not take this approach at all.


Reduce Cooling Costs

Reduce Cooling CostsReduce Cooling Costs : Most people these days will run their air conditioning at some point or another during the summer season. Your season will start early if you live in the southern US and that is one of the reasons we are writing this post today. Air conditioning uses a lot of electricity and with prices rising everywhere this is a great place to look for cost savings and ways to control your electrical cost.

But even if you live in southern Canada and only run your AC for two weeks during the year, you may still want to read this post, since you can always save some money by reducing your AC usage and reducing your electrical costs. Whether you use a window air conditioner or a central air conditioner to coll your home, they both use a lot of electricity. Some people will also use AC during even the relatively cooler times in an effort to reduce the amount of pollen in the air coming into their homes in the spring if they suffer from allergies. During windy days, if you keep your windows closed you may want your AC on as well.

This web site is all about saving money and with the cost of electricity going up so much in many states and provinces, it is becoming more important to control consumption.

AC uses a lot of electricity when it is running, so controlling it and maintaining it well can save you lots of money or at least reduce your monthly electrical bill. The cost of AC in the summer time for people living in the southern US can be as high or higher than corresponding heating costs for people in Canada!

Guide to Reduce Cooling Costs

The following list includes the standard approach to reducing your AC electrical bill and some others you may not have thought of. Let us know if we have missed any by leaving us with your comments. We will be happy to add them so our readers can benefit. Here we go:

  • Obviously, turn up the thermostat several degrees especially during the day
  • Don’t use AC until you absolutely cannot stand it any more
  • Turn on the AC for evening hours while you are sleeping
  • Let evening breezes cool your home
  • Keep window shades drawn on the side  of the house that the sun shines in the windows
  • Use ceiling fans to keep the air moving, even if the air conditioning is running
  • Also Use regular fans to keep the air moving
  • Use fans in your bedroom at night to circulate the air
  • Cook outside on the barbecue instead of using the oven
  • Use the Microwave to heat or cook foods, it generates less heat
  • Go for a swim, private or public
  • Clear any debris away from the outside AC unit
  • Keep plants and shrubs from crowding the outside AC unit
  • Clean the inside of your furnace once per year
  • Change your filter at the beginning of the season
  • Change your filter or clean your filter once per month
  • Turn off any humidifier on the furnace or otherwise
  • Have your AC checked to make sure it is working efficiently
  • Adjust all vents to ensure proper distribution of air through the house
  • Close bottom cold air returns
  • Open ceiling level cold air returns
  • Cool only rooms that you use
  • Avoid using your AC during high rate hours during the mid day
  • Make sure there are no open drafts from outdoors
  • Plant trees to provide shade on the west side of the house to shade the house from the hot afternoon sun
  • If you are away on vacation for a few days, either turn up the temperature or turn of the AC while you are away

Following all of these items mentioned above, will help to keep your AC costs for electricity as low as it can possibly be.

Let us know if we missed any. Both us and our readers want to know all possible ways of keeping our AC bill to the lowest level possible.

 

 

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