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Old 05-28-2014, 04:01 PM   #1
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new A/C vs. insulation


This section should be more active! I'm in the midst of helping out with a friend's reno. Anyway, I just found out that if you replace your air conditioning in Toronto to an energy efficient one, along with another energy efficient upgrade, you can get $2000 in incentives (for Toronto folks: http://www.belyeabrothers.com/2014-e...vation-program.

My question is this:

From an energy perspective, is it generally better to replace an old unit or to re-insulate? The house is an old victorian that was renovated 30-40 years ago. Around 2500 sq ft.

Any input is good, even if you know where to get this kind of info. Thanks!

Edit: I forgot to mention I'm replacing windows too.


Last edited by JamieH4; 05-28-2014 at 04:03 PM. Reason: forgot to add something
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:28 PM   #2
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new A/C vs. insulation


I'd always opt for insulation and more efficient windows before a new A/C.
It's going to save you money ever single year the instant it's installed and would need to be done anyway to get maximum efficiency from a new unit.

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Old 05-29-2014, 03:39 AM   #3
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joes on right track.
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Old 05-30-2014, 01:20 PM   #4
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new A/C vs. insulation


It depends on how old the AC is and what the efficiency level is. When we moved in there was a 37 year old sputtering clunker in the basement that was probably less than 70% efficient. We replaced it with a new high efficiency unit in the high 90s and it cut over 40% off our monthly bills. More insulation would be even better, but as it is the 10K we spent will probably be paid for by the savings in 4 years give or take.

IF it is a newer medium efficiency unit a replacement would probably take a lot longer to pay for itself so I would rather insulate.

IF the furnace was installed during or prior to the last renovation and it is over 30 years old, it is probably time to start looking into a replacement anyway. There will never be a more convenient time to do it than before you move in. Some will splutter along for 40 or 45 years before they die but 25-30 is the normal usable lifespan for them. If the money is there do it now because if you wait for them to die it tends to happen when you need them the most. That's when they are under the most strain, which would be when temperatures are at their most extreme. Probably ain't gonna breath its last breath during a mild 70 degree spring day when you can take your time arranging a diagnosis and fix without having to pay for emergency trip fees.

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Old 05-30-2014, 05:22 PM   #5
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It depends on how old the AC is and what the efficiency level is. When we moved in there was a 37 year old sputtering clunker in the basement that was probably less than 70% efficient. We replaced it with a new high efficiency unit in the high 90s and it cut over 40% off our monthly bills. More insulation would be even better, but as it is the 10K we spent will probably be paid for by the savings in 4 years give or take.

IF it is a newer medium efficiency unit a replacement would probably take a lot longer to pay for itself so I would rather insulate.

IF the furnace was installed during or prior to the last renovation and it is over 30 years old, it is probably time to start looking into a replacement anyway. There will never be a more convenient time to do it than before you move in. Some will splutter along for 40 or 45 years before they die but 25-30 is the normal usable lifespan for them. If the money is there do it now because if you wait for them to die it tends to happen when you need them the most. That's when they are under the most strain, which would be when temperatures are at their most extreme. Probably ain't gonna breath its last breath during a mild 70 degree spring day when you can take your time arranging a diagnosis and fix without having to pay for emergency trip fees.
But if you had insulated instead first. You could be saving 50% on both your heating and cooling bill. And then save even more by upgrading to smaller equipment because of the reduced heating and cooling load.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:47 AM   #6
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Energy perspective is a vague term ( it cannot be created or destroyed ). The insulation is a better bang for your loonie BUT those grants are RARE and you should grab it B4 it goes away. Newer HVAC equipment will save lots of $$ plus the old stuff requires repairs which is $$ wasted. Also I hear Ontario is going to be one of the most expensive places for elec costs in Canada soon so new HVAC units are a very good idea.
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Old 06-01-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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new A/C vs. insulation


I always tell people to be more efficient about the way that the home uses energy. However that translates depends on the home but insulation, HVAC, windows, duct work, etc. are pretty much always in the top 5.

Without knowing how the HVAC is running or in what kind of shape it is, its impossible to say one way or the other.

Even if the HVAC is done, insulation is always a good investment.
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:34 PM   #8
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But if you had insulated instead first. You could be saving 50% on both your heating and cooling bill. And then save even more by upgrading to smaller equipment because of the reduced heating and cooling load.
For our situation and the home we were buying we decided we would rather have a new furnace with a poorly insulated home and know it will perform reliably for a couple years while we get set to do insulation than spend a couple grand to insulate and then find out we need a 10K HVAC system right after that.

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Old 07-01-2014, 04:30 PM   #9
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Looks like most on here are already on the right track.

In the energy efficiency industry, the idea is to improve the envelope as much as possible then redetermine the heating and cooling loads and right-sizing the equipment to meet that load.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:54 PM   #10
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new A/C vs. insulation


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Originally Posted by JamieH4 View Post
This section should be more active! I'm in the midst of helping out with a friend's reno. Anyway, I just found out that if you replace your air conditioning in Toronto to an energy efficient one, along with another energy efficient upgrade, you can get $2000 in incentives (for Toronto folks: http://www.belyeabrothers.com/2014-e...vation-program.

My question is this:

From an energy perspective, is it generally better to replace an old unit or to re-insulate? The house is an old victorian that was renovated 30-40 years ago. Around 2500 sq ft.

Any input is good, even if you know where to get this kind of info. Thanks!

Edit: I forgot to mention I'm replacing windows too.

System will far outweigh in efficiency versus insulation most times. BUT, you must know the ari rating for systems and what they will achieve as only certain systems actually achieve manufacture's seer rating.

Example: 5 ton Trane XB 16 seer single stage system will only achieve 13 seer UNLESS you have a two stage compressor and variable speed blower motor.

Install must be correct, airflow, return, etc. But yes, more significant and immediate benefits with systems than with insulation.
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:00 PM   #11
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btw, 13 seer r410A equipment up to 38% more efficient

14 seer up to 43%

16 seer up to 50%

Trane xv20i data communicating with variable speed compressors (up to 750 stages) and variable speed blower motors can run at the same energy consumption as a 100 watt light bulb. at least down here.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:05 PM   #12
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Insulation is good of course, but has its limits. I insulated my attic, with reimbursement, luckily, but no noticible difference in elec bill. Must have has a good situation to begin with. Just saying- insulating (and now, solar) is a hyped up racket, many times. Govt $$, in cahoots with contractors needing work. In the guise of improving our economy.

benefit? yes, if your home is soooo bad to begin with. only way to go is up in that situation.
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:53 PM   #13
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I'd always opt for insulation and more efficient windows before a new A/C.
It's going to save you money ever single year the instant it's installed and would need to be done anyway to get maximum efficiency from a new unit.

I've had an epiphany. Immediate and direct and noticeable savings would be the a/c system, and bay far. I've read down this thread, noticed last post said something about new insulation and no return on investment, return meaning no lower electrical bill.

I hear that more often than not.

A/c system and it's seer rating and match up to achieve seer rating along with optimal static pressure and overall air circulation (emphasis on return) as well as correct duct cfm to match system's capability will always and by far trump the vast majority of the cover up known as blown insulation.

Where's your inside blower, is system sealed, is attic if applicable, vented? what's duct work like? etc.,,

You can insulate your home but blown in insulation alone as a general is only a tenth the resolve to benefit from your hope of, if of course your hope was to "save" money cause insulation is immediately the less expensive cop out.

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