Your furnace and air conditioner are each part of your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. They share system components, like a blower, ducts, and vents. However, the furnace and AC are two distinct appliances that run independently.
Because of this, it’s unlikely that your furnace and air conditioner will break down at the same time. Therefore, replacing the malfunctioning appliance and keeping the other one if it is still working well may make sense. However, if the whole system is older, you may be better off replacing both units simultaneously.
What Is the Average Life of a Furnace and Air Conditioner?
Expected lifespan is one of the main factors to consider when making replacement decisions about your furnace and AC. For example, if you think your functioning appliance will continue running for another 10 years, you’ll probably be less inclined to replace it.
Furnaces typically last about twice as long as air conditioners, so they may still be going strong when your home’s AC unit gives out. On average:
- Furnaces can last around 20 to 30 years
- Air conditioners usually last around 10 to 15 years
If your furnace is less than 10 years old when your AC quits, you may only want to replace the air conditioner. However, if your furnace stops working first, you may choose to replace both components because of the air conditioner’s shorter lifespan.
Will the Installation Cost Less if I Replace Both?
Another factor to consider when replacing your furnace and AC is your overall installation cost. While you would have to pay more up front, replacing both units at the same time could save you money on your installation costs in the long run.
When an installer combines two tasks into one appointment, they can usually merge some of the expenses. So, for example, you may only have to pay flat-rate charges for items like mileage and building permits one time instead of twice.
Having the heating and cooling systems installed together can also save you on labor costs. To illustrate, let’s say installing a complete system would take six hours while installing two units at different times would take four hours apiece. Since labor is billed by the hour, you would pay for two fewer labor hours by installing them simultaneously.
Is It Better to Have a Matched AC and Furnace?
When you replace one unit but not the other, your system is considered mismatched. Your older equipment will limit the newer, more energy-efficient unit. Therefore, your cost savings from the upgrade will be limited.
A mismatched central cooling and heating system often consists of a new AC and an older furnace. The blower in the furnace drives the air for both heating and cooling. So, even if you invest in an AC with an exceptional Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, your monthly utility bills will likely remain high because it’s using an older blower.
By replacing both together, you can ensure that you have a matched system: an AC and furnace with comparable efficiency ratings. When new equipment is appropriately matched, your whole system runs more efficiently, and energy savings can help offset its cost.
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Get a Furnace and Air Conditioner Replacement From Ambient Edge
If your air conditioner or furnace is relatively new when its companion appliance breaks down, you probably don’t need to replace them both at the same time. However, here at Ambient Edge, we recommend a total replacement if:
- Your furnace is more than 15 years old
- You are installing a new air conditioner with a SEER rating of 16 or higher
- Your HVAC is in a hard-to-reach location or has a complicated configuration that would significantly impact your labor costs
- You want to avoid the stress of additional HVAC breakdowns and repairs in the immediate future
Contact the pros at Ambient Edge today to discuss your furnace and AC replacement project or to schedule an appointment.