The Best Time to Buy an Air Conditioner for Your Home

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorAugust 18, 2023
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Air conditioner condenser units

When the heat and humidity arrive, it's only natural to consider buying a new air conditioner, but did you know summer isn't actually the best time? It's true. Purchasing a cooling system during the off-season in the fall and spring reduces costs and wait times compared to the summer and winter. Keep reading to learn more about the best time to buy an air conditioner for your home.

The Benefits of Buying an Air Conditioner During the Off-Season

Fall and spring are ideal seasons to buy a new AC system because local heating and cooling companies aren't as busy. They are typically swamped during the winter and summer maintaining, repairing, and installing HVAC systems.

“This leads to extended wait times and higher costs compared to the spring or fall,” said Thais Costa, owner of New Era Plumbing & HVAC in Dracut, MA. “If you decide to make your purchase in the spring, it's important to start shopping well in advance, before the warmer months arrive. This approach ensures more affordable prices and shorter installation wait times.”

Let's take a closer look at the main benefits of installing cooling systems in the fall or early spring.

Cost Savings

Knowing when to buy an air conditioner can result in significant cost savings. Many HVAC retailers, as well as HVAC repair and installation companies, offer steep discounts or special deals to entice homeowners to buy air conditioners during off-peak seasons when business is slower.

During the slow season, shop around for an air conditioning sale. Sites such as Home Depot and Lowe's allow you to shop online by price and highlight air conditioners for sale.

Proactively replacing air conditioning systems in the fall or spring when they're showing signs of issues or inefficiency can potentially save you thousands of dollars on a new unit, as opposed to replacing it when it breaks down on one of the hottest days of the year.

According to Michael Brief, director of retail sales at Friedrich, a leading manufacturer of premium room ACs, purchasing air conditioners during the off-season compared to the peak summer season can yield savings of about 10-15%.

“And there may be even higher savings on air conditioners that are being discontinued or phased out to make way for models that utilize new refrigerants or meet new, stricter energy-efficient models,” he said.

Costa said the average cost of installing a new AC is around $5,500, but some models cost as low as $4,000 during the slow season.

“Besides aiming for the lowest unit price, there are other avenues to save money when acquiring an air conditioner,” Costa said. “These include inquiring about available tax credits and rebates for high-efficiency models, as well as exploring the possibility of free upgrades such as a smart thermostat. It's worth noting that investing in a more expensive and efficient system may pay off over time, along with reduced utility bills, especially if you plan to remain in your home for several years.”

Reduced Wait Times

Summer and winter are the busiest times of the year for HVAC technicians, who typically run from house to house making emergency repairs and installations, especially during extreme weather conditions. HVAC technicians have more flexible schedules during the off-season and can usually schedule you within a day or two, compared to a week or two during the peak season.

Increased System Availability

Buying the right type of cooling system and make and model is crucial in meeting your individual home comfort needs and budget. When you wait until your system breaks down on one of the hottest days of the year, your options may be limited, and you'll be forced to buy a less efficient system from a brand you're not familiar with. Shopping in off-peak seasons gives you more time to research and compare different models, features, and energy-efficiency ratings to make an informed decision.

Preparedness for Extreme Weather

Buying in the early spring or fall ensures that your new air conditioner will be ready to keep you comfortable when hot summer weather arrives, minimizing the risk of breakdowns during extreme weather. Many homeowners who put off replacing their aging and inefficient system are greeted with a unit that won't start up on the first warm day of spring.

When buying an AC system during the peak season: "Shop around and compare costs, features, service options, and length of the warranty to get the most value from your purchase," Brief said.

The Importance of Investing in Regular Air Conditioner Maintenance

Ideally, it's better to replace your air conditioning system on your own terms, and not when your hand is forced during a complete breakdown. The best way to keep your AC system from experiencing a breakdown is with regular maintenance. AC tune-ups are best performed in spring before the arrival of warmer weather.

Aside from cleaning and adjusting any necessary components, your HVAC technician will inspect for any minor issues before they balloon into a more serious and expensive issue that may require AC replacement.

“Regular maintenance is the best way to keep the HVAC unit running smoothly and efficiently,” said Brad Roberson, president of Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning in Houston, TX. “It is best to have the HVAC unit serviced before the hot and cold seasons begin. Homeowners should also change the air filter every 90 days. Doing this task helps the HVAC system work less to cool the home since, with clean filters, the airflow is less restricted.”

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