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Repair or Replace: Air Conditioner

The end of summer is the time to replace your air conditioner if you’ve decided that’s the right move for you. Stores are desperate to unload excess units come September -- especially this year, since the summer wasn’t nearly as hot as anticipated. But is replacing your AC the right move for you? Here are some things to consider before you send your cooler to the junkyard.

First and foremost, definitely replace your AC if it’s more than 10 years old -- your new model will be more energy-efficient, and you’ll save up to 20 percent on cooling costs next summer. If you have central air, replacing your old air conditioner is definitely trickier than if you have wall or window units, so it'll save you time and (in the long run) money to meet with a contractor to devise the best energy-saving and cooling strategy for your house. The government has introduced federal energy tax credits as an incentive to get Americans to replace their energy-sucking AC models with new, energy-efficient ones. Click here to find out your state’s energy efficiency policy.

If your air conditioner felt like sweet relief at the beginning of the summer but started to feel like it was dying toward the end, you may need to change the filter, not the entire unit. Changing your AC filter is wallet-, health-, and eco-friendly, since a dirty filter means a poorly functioning and overworked unit. Click here for easy steps on how to clean or change your filter. Cleaning your AC filter is a simple home repair you can do to extend your AC’s lifespan.

Decided to replace your air conditioner? Read up on the latest energy-saving models and find out what you should look for in a new model on EnergyStar.gov. Make sure you check out the Energy Star Program’s tax credits for energy efficiency and rebates for Energy Star appliances so you get the best deal possible on your new unit.

-- Lauren Le Vine

See More: Buying Appliances , Buying Guides , Buying Furniture , Buying Electronics , Budgeting