If your motto is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” well, then an HVAC maintenance agreement may not be right for you.
But if your thinking is more like “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” then you’re one of the many customers who are saving money by getting ahead of any problems.
Is AC maintenance worth it? You’re paying a little bit upfront to ensure you don’t have to pay a whole lot more down the line. Let’s break it down.
Max and John each buy a new HVAC system. The HVAC system costs $4,000, and their utility bills to run it are about $75 a month.
Max reads in Consumer Reports that a service plan incorporating regular inspections and discounts on repairs is worth it, so he purchases one for $20 a month. John reads that between 15% and 25% of HVAC units break by their fifth year. He thinks the odds are in his favor, so he’ll skip the maintenance agreement.
After One Year…
Neither Max nor John has an issue with their HVAC units. John pats himself on the back for saving money.
Max’s Total Cost: $240 service agreement + $900 in bills = $1,140
John’s Total Cost: $900 in bills = $900
After Two Years…
Max’s technician regularly cleans and inspects his system according to the AC maintenance agreement. He doesn’t have to worry about the cost of AC maintenance because it is included. John hires a technician to come out to clean the AC unit. He pays $110 for this service. The technician performs a basic checkup and warns John that his evaporator coil is beginning to corrode.
Max’s Total Cost: $1,140 + $240 service agreement + $900 in bills = $2,280
John’s Total Cost: $900 + $900 in bills + $110 cleaning fee = $1,910
After Three Years…
Max’s evaporator coil has not been impacted by debris or corrosion. John needs to have his evaporator coil replaced, which can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,200. (The evaporator coil is the part most likely to break on an air conditioning unit.) John pays $800, plus an additional $250 to refill the Freon that has leaked from his tank.
Max’s Total Cost: $2,280 + $240 service agreement + $900 in bills = $3,420
John’s Total Cost: $1,910 + $900 in bills + $800 evaporator coil + $250 in Freon = $3,860
After Four Years…
Max’s HVAC unit is still chugging along. John’s unit has not had the benefit of AC maintenance, and it is no longer as efficient as it once was. John’s heating and cooling bills increase by about 10% a month.
Max’s Total Cost: $3,420 + $240 service agreement + $900 in bills = $4,560
John’s Total Cost: $3,860 + $990 in bills = $4,850
After Five Years…
The HVAC unit Max and John both purchased has a design flaw, and the units need to be repaired. The average HVAC repair cost is $337. John pays full price. According to Max’s maintenance agreement, he gets a 15% discount so he pays $286.
Max’s Total Cost: $4,560 +$240 service agreement + $900 in bills + $286 repair = $5,986
John’s Total Cost: $4,844 + $990 in bills + $337 repair = $6,171
After Ten Years…
John’s unit is cooked. Years without basic maintenance have resulted in a much shorter lifespan. John needs to purchase a new unit for another $4,000. Max’s unit, although older, is still ticking away.
Max’s Total Cost: $5,986 + $1,200 service agreement + $4,500 in bills = $11,686
John’s Total Cost: $6,171 + $4,950 in bills + $4,000 for a new unit = $15,121
After ten years, Max paid $3,435 less to heat and cool his home than John did – and that doesn’t take into account any discount he would have received on other repairs.
Monthly, Max’s overall costs averaged about $97. John’s overall monthly costs are almost 30% higher: about $126.
Is AC Maintenance Worth It?
So what do you think? Is AC maintenance worth it? If you could use an extra $336 each year (in addition to that 15% savings on any repairs you do need), an AC maintenance plan is worth the money!