How to replace your air conditioner

Replace or repair?

Even though the typical lifespan of a central air unit is 15 to 20 years, if your unit is more than 10 years old, you may want to consider replacement, according to Energy Star, the government-backed program that promotes energy efficiency.

That's because a new, high-efficiency unit can save you up to 20% on your cooling costs.

Other signals your AC could be past its prime: If your home is too humid in the summer, you're calling a repair person every year or the unit is noisy.

On the other hand, if you're seeing more dust in your home when the unit is on, or that some rooms are too hot or too cold, the problem could be in the ducts or with your insulation — problems that can be fixed without replacing the unit.

Either way, an HVAC specialist can do an assessment and tell you what repairs can be made to cool your home more efficiently, whether it's replacing the unit or fixing another problem.