Air Conditioning & Heating Repair 2022 | HVAC Equipment Selection

Before I get started with this subject realize that HVAC subjects of this nature are geared toward the climate I live in. I am a small HVAC service and repair company serving the Katy, Texas area and some surrounding areas.

I often choose these kinds of subjects based upon what I am currently witnessing in home AC repair solutions and those who may call some other company and are often times told they need to replace their whole HVAC system (heating and cooling) as opposed to just repairing it.

There are many reasons why it may make sense to replace your entire HVAC system just as much as it might be more beneficial to merely repair it. The reasons for doing it one way (repair system versus replace) may make more sense simply due to what is happening in the current HVAC market regarding new efficiency regulations that are about to take shape. However, in some situations it may not be worth repairing your system. I can only offer you ways forward from looking at your system in person. Much of this is a judgment call based on 28 years of doing HVAC for a living.

DOE Energy Efficiency Requirements

 

DOE is an acronym for Department of Energy. Over the course of the past couple of decades changes have been made to require manufacturers to hit various efficiency thresholds. These requirements are getting ready to change again, the time in which they will is not just yet. They are coming. The picture currently isn’t quite clear. I expect this new equipment to start showing up later this year or early next year in my market. (Other markets may experience this sooner than mine, notably the California market.)

So if you replace a HVAC system now (this year 2022 in Texas) you will get the old efficiency requirement. R410a, the refrigerant used in all new AC & heat pump systems currently (2022) is in the midst of a phase out that is coming in California in 2023 and else where shortly thereafter (2024-2025).

New DOE efficiency requirement changes are due around the same time frame. The new refrigerant replacing R410a and the equipment supporting it are not yet available. It is expected to start showing up in my market (Katy, Texas area) sometime later this year and or early next year. There will likely be complications to these changes.

My opinion is that this probably won’t pay you to be an “early adopter” of the new technology that is due with in the next 2-3 years. (Early 2022 when this blog post was created.)

Eventually you won’t have a choice, or the choices you do have will have certain risks attached to them as in the cost of the refrigerant that is used to operate the AC system or Heat pump.

 

The Implementation of SEER2 for AC Efficiency

 

Currently Manufacturers use SEER. Which is an acronym of seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It is a ratio of efficiency that give you a round about way of knowing given certain climate conditions how much that selection of equipment will cost you to operate it. The higher the number the more efficient or “cheaper” it is to operate it by running it. The more you run it, the more you will save because it’s efficient.

This is similar to mpg in a car. If a car gets 30 miles to every gallon of gas, it is more efficient than a car that only gets 10 miles to every gallon of gas. The difference in a car that doesn’t make sense when applied to HVAC is that the car that gets only 10 miles the gallon is that it has higher performance, than that of a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon.

SEER2 is a new equation that does away with the old SEER equation. Because of this change, it is estimated by one equipment manufacturer that upwards of 70% of the equipment they make now (2022) will not meet the new SEER2 requirements. The benefit is that the Equipment made using the new SEER2 equation will be more efficient than the older SEER equation that it is replacing.

So for someone looking for a completely new HVAC system, now (2022) is not the best time to do so. If your HVAC system is older like 20 years or more this is going to bring you to a complex decision. If you live in or close by the Katy, Texas area I have helped hundreds and hundreds of your neighbors over the course of the last 14 years since I started my HVAC company in the latter part of 2008. There is a cost to come out, but that initial cost can be credited to any work you want me to do for you. You can call me at 832-475-6895.

 

The reason why older systems bring a harder decision that that a good number of them use R22 Freon. Usually these AC systems are leaking refrigerant, the only real way forward for most of these kinds of AC systems will most likely be replacement. Your choices will be few right now. If you can repair it, that repair will be costly and then you still have an old system that may not last. This comment is mostly to do with a hot climate in which I serve. If you lived in a more mild climate, I might have a different opinion. Just so you understand the context for what I am talking about.

In Katy, Texas we use our AC’s for upwards of 9 to 10 months of the year most years. That’s a lot of wear and tear. So you the reader understand why climate concerns play and important role as to the information you use to make a decision.

 

Freon Refrigerant Leaks, Home Ownership & HVAC

 

I recently visited a home in which the Evaporator coil was leaking Freon. R410a to be exact, but people still refer to this refrigerant as Freon.

The system in question was roughly 8 years old. The home owner had gotten a quote from another company and that company was pressuring him to replace everything. New furnace, new E-coil and new AC condenser. While it’s always an option to replace everything to fix a problem with your existing system, the more you replace the more it costs. If what you are replacing it with will be obsolete in a short amount of time, that’s not a *real* solution in my book. Certainly in some cases if your current system is older then a completely new HVAC system may be what you need.

I was at another home recently on an AC system that I personally replaced about 8 years ago. Different brand than the customer that I mentioned prior. Ironically the same failure. This is partly another reason I bring up this point is that brands don’t matter as much as you think they do. (Some people already realize this game for what it is, if you don’t yet — you will by the time you reach my age.)  I am considered a straight shooter, tell it like it is kind of guy.

If you’re looking to higher efficiency, saving money on running your AC you have to go to a more major brand of HVAC. Generic brands, often called the value brands only make entry level efficient systems. Which essentially means the lowest efficiency they can make allowable by law. (DOE & EPA more or less determine what HVAC manufacturers can and can’t do.)

So that previous customer of mine has an older furnace. Because 8 years ago we didn’t replace that furnace. But upon inspecting it, still operational at this point and no real reason to replace it now as the DOE changes coming up it is better to wait. Our heating season in Katy, Texas is very short. So gas furnaces here get more of a work out in AC mode than they do in heating mode.

 

Different Climates, Different Concerns (location)

 

If you found this blog and live in a different climate, your concerns will likely be very different than the concerns in my climate in Katy, Texas. Comfort means different things to different people, no two of us are exactly alike. The other point in this part of the blog post about home ownership is how long do you plan to live in the home? If that estimation is short, any efficiency improvements may not fully pay for themselves.

The higher efficient systems cost more. Typically the difference in cost from a regular AC will be made up in a short amount of time. But the full cost of the improvement is likely to be in the 12 to 15 year range. Having a more efficient system will probably help you sell the house, but in current real estate markets homes are snapped up regardless because of scarcity, not what kind of HVAC system the house has.

If you need a new AC system anyway and you don’t plan to move or sell your home a choice to boost efficiency can recoup the difference from the run of the mill replacement AC to the more efficient AC. Air conditioners have come a long way. If the difference from one option is a few thousand dollars, that difference can be recouped rather quickly via the reduction of up to 50% in your electric usage. Then in only a few short years, you got the better AC system for essentially the cost of the entry level AC. (Note: not all AC’s can make this leap, this isn’t a gimmick.)

 

About the author of this air conditioning blog post:

My name is Ray Austin. Thank you for visiting with me today. I write all my own blogs, tell all my own stories in terms of various HVAC repairs made for others. Over the past few years the challenges have been extraordinary, from getting parts to finding equipment. I come well versed in these things even in these extraordinary times we find ourselves in.

Due to the nature of these pending efficiency standard changes the brand name won’t make any real difference. Once refrigerant changes / efficiency standards are changed the HVAC market will head that way. Certain HVAC equipment will become obsolete more or less over night. That situation will only effect you if & when your HVAC system breaks. This could be as short as a few short years for Katy, Texas area.

Regardless of HVAC brand, they all break. Look who you’re talking to? While there may be some opinions that the R410a refrigerant phase out will look something like R22 Freon phase out, I remain skeptical primarily because it is much harder to produce R410a AND Europe is mostly using R32 right now. (There is little reason to keep producing it.)

 

If your HVAC system can be repaired now, you may skip the costly replacement that may be short lived. The climate of Katy, Texas forces you to make a decision. Going without AC in this market? In my opinion that is not an option.

You will always need a good HVAC contractor in the Katy, Texas area. Ray Austin is a 28 year veteran of the HVAC business. I have 14 years of experience running and operating my own HVAC company. I have an AOS degree in HVAC, Universally certified in handling any refrigerant, Texas HVAC licensed TACLB28416E and insured.

Got an AC problem at your home in or near Katy Texas? Call Ray at 832-475-6895

Avoid the salesman mantra, call an HVAC contractor – call Ray Today!

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