For the past couple of years, my husband and I have had many discussions about whether or not we should replace our AC unit. No matter what we set the thermostat at, the unit can’t seem to keep up. We have been noticing a slight increase each month in our utility bill, and not the mention the growing noise the unit seems to be making lately – the unit finally quit on us in July, actually. We decided it was time to hire a local heating and air conditioning technician to do both service and diagnostics on the lifespan of the AC unit. He told us that generally when multiplying the cooling machines age by the cost of the repair, if the number you get is higher than several thousand dollars, it’s wise to replace the unit. Our AC is already over eighteen years old, and of course far less energy efficient than newer models. While I’m a bit intimidated by the up front costs, I know this will save us money in the end. Current cooling systems offer speed technology, not to mention they achieve up to 26 SEER. Instead of constantly starting up and shutting down, these innovative systems automatically adjust capacity to run for longer cycles but, at much lower speeds. This creates a more even temperature for the whole home while minimizing energy usage and thankfully sound levels. Plus, our old AC relies on R22 refrigerant which is gradually being phased out because it is bad for our environment – which makes it very expensive and hard to find these days. Newer models take advantage of R-410A refrigerant, which is much healthier for the environment and will reduce utility bills. After speaking with the heating and air conditioning technician, I decided that I could buy a much smaller AC this time around because I improved insulation in the home, replaced all windows and doors, and tightened up the thermal envelope, which has generously decreased the heat gain/loss of the home.