Does your AC system require special care during the winter months? You don't need your air conditioner right now, but the sudden drop in the outdoor air temperature doesn't mean you can forget about your home cooling system. Even though you may have months before you turn on the AC, take a look at what you need to know about winter-time residential air conditioning, maintenance, and system replacement.

Should You Leave the Power On?

The answer to this question depends on where you live. If you live in a temperate to warm region, you may periodically need to cool the indoor air during the winter months. This means you may want to leave the system on. But if you know you won't use the air conditioner until the spring arrives (or possibly the summer), you could turn off the power.

Before you flip switches or unplug anything, talk to a professional. You may not know where the power circuit is or how to shut off the air conditioner without affecting the heater or air purification system. An AC contractor can complete a postseason inspection and find the power source. After the electrician locates the electrical circuit box for your AC unit, they can turn the appliance off. 

Do You Need To Change the Filter?

Most central HVAC systems use the same air filter for the heater and the air conditioner. Ideally, you've spent the warmer months maintaining your AC system's filter and either cleaning or replacing it regularly (depending on the type of filter). But if you haven't cleaned/replaced the filter for the entire air conditioning season or longer, now is the time to tackle this HVAC task. 

An HVAC technician can change the filter (or clean it) during a pre-winter system check-up. If you're not sure where the filter is, what size filter your system uses, or what type of filter you need, talk to the technician. A heating and cooling professional can help you to understand the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. This number rates the filter's performance and provides information on what size particles it can catch.

Can You Replace the AC System?

Even though you won't use your air conditioner in the winter, you don't have to completely ignore noticeable damage, wear and tear, or previous efficiency issues. An older system that's past its prime or has an obvious persistent problem may require replacement. 

You don't need to wait until the warmer months to replace your AC system. Winter is the ideal season for an AC replacement. With less demand for air conditioners, you may find better prices. You also won't need to swelter while you wait for the contractor to replace a failing system with a brand-new one. A residential air conditioning services specialist can help you to select a new system for your home and install the AC unit.