How to replace your air conditioner

Keep cool without blowing your budget

Hot fun in the summer?

Even the hardiest heat lovers need a break from high temperatures and wilting humidity.

Of course, air conditioning can help, and a lot of us rely on it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Housing Survey, 64% of U.S. households have central air. Another 10% use some form of room unit.

If your AC breaks, though, misery awaits. And if you let an older unit limp along, you could be tossing money out the window.

How do you know when the time is right to upgrade the way you cool your home? A lot of different factors come into play, including what kind of unit you already have and the replacement cost.

Before you open your wallet, there are seven questions you should ask yourself to determine the best option for you and your budget.

By Jen A. Miller Contributing Editor