According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than half of the energy use in a typical home goes toward heating and cooling. It makes sense that you want your HVAC system to be as efficient as possible so that your hard-earned dollars are not being wasted. Sometimes replacing HVAC or doing an HVAC upgrade is what you need to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter – and without a huge expense.

Heating and AC replacement can be costly, so it’s important to know if HVAC replacement is really what you need. There are some warning signs to look out for that could indicate your system is on its last legs.

Is your HVAC system trying to tell you something?

Nothing lasts forever – and certainly not an HVAC system. According to Energy Star, the average lifespan of an HVAC system is 10–15 years, and replacing it could save you as much as 20 percent on annual heating and cooling costs. However, if your system is five years old or less, repair might make more sense. Here are some warning signs that your unit needs attention (or replacement):

• Does it seem slow to heat or cool?
• Are the filters clogged?
• Do any of the parts seem worn or damaged?
• Do you notice leaking?
• Do you smell burning and think there could be an electrical issue?
• Is it getting up there in years?
• Do you constantly need to adjust the thermostat?
• Does it make noise when it turns on?
• Does it seem stuffy or damp?

If your HVAC is relatively new and it is only giving a couple of signals, it might be smart to have a technician check it out. It’s much less costly to repair and service an existing unit than replace it.

What are some easy ways to avert big problems?

There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot and maybe save on repairs.
• Inspect, replace or clean filters (depending on whether they are disposable or reusable) at least four times a year.
• Get a programmable thermostat.
• Make sure your supply vents are open and not clogged.
• Keep your outdoor HVAC unit clean and clear of debris like leaves and twigs.
If you’ve done all that, your HVAC is old and repair costs are simply not worth it, you might want to replace it. There are some things to consider before you choose a contractor who knows how to install an HVAC system.

HVAC ISsues

What questions should I ask the contractor before replacing my HVAC?

Find a respected, certified HVAC contractor – preferably one who will give a free, no-obligation estimate and options on replacement costs. The estimate should include the cost of labor, parts and installation, and also provide information on the warranty and energy efficiency.

Every home is different, and the region of the country you live in could influence what type of HVAC is best for you. Ask the contractor these questions:

• What’s the best option for me: forced-air heating/cooling, a heat pump or radiant heat?
• What size unit would best meet my needs?
• Do I need to consider multiple-zone cooling options?
• Should it also have a humidifier/dehumidifier, given where I live?
• Is there a tax credit offered?
• An energy-efficient HVAC system is expensive. How do the lifetime costs compare with the initial investment?
• What type of service plan do you offer?

A good contractor will inspect your ductwork and should also perform a detailed load calculation to determine what is best for you. You might also want to consider getting a general home energy tune-up to make sure your insulation is good and your windows are draft-free.

Once you have decided which option is best, there is still one more question to ask: How long does it take to replace my HVAC systems? It depends on the size of your home, the type of installation, and the type and location of the AC being installed. Generally, though, expect a day for the changeout and two days for the ductwork.

Are you a woman interested in working in HVAC?

In 2018, female HVAC technicians made up only 1.4 percent of the industry’s workforce. However, there are jobs available in the heating and cooling industry that are proving to be excellent careers for women. That is for good reason. The typical HVAC customer is a woman, and when female HVAC technicians make service calls, the female customers often feel more comfortable. This can, in turn, result in more referral business for the technician’s company.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to grow 15 percent through 2026. The growing need for HVAC contractors, along with a retiring workforce, means the field counts on women to survive and fill the estimated 115,000 new positions that will be required by 2022.

Women of HVAC encourages women by bringing awareness, showcasing women in the field and giving them the necessary tools to begin a successful career in the trades.

The benefits are appealing: steady work, a great job outlook and the opportunity to work in a variety of places, from medical facilities and research labs to offices and homes. Thanks to a narrowing gender gap, women earn more in skilled trades compared to non-skilled fields.

Contact Women of HVAC to find schools that will train women for the lucrative, in-demand field of HVAC and provide resources, opportunities and support for those already in the field.

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