The Best Time to Buy an Air Conditioner

Buying an air conditioner is an important investment for any home. Choosing the right time of year to purchase an AC unit can help you save money and get the best deal. Here is an in-depth look at the optimal times and key factors to consider when buying an air conditioner.


An air conditioner is one of the most useful appliances for any home, providing cooling and relief from hot summer temperatures. However, air conditioners can be a major purchase. The right time of year to buy one can make a big difference in what kind of deal and savings you can get.

Timing your air conditioner purchase wisely allows you to take advantage of seasonal sales and incentives. It also ensures you get an AC unit that is properly sized for the hottest part of the year. Rushing to buy an air conditioner at the wrong time may result in an improperly sized unit, missed savings, or purchasing an AC too far ahead of when you need it.

Below we will explore in detail the best timeframes to shop for an air conditioner. We will also provide tips on how to choose the optimal type, size, and features to suit your home and climate. With the right information, you can make an informed decision on when to invest in a new AC unit.

When Are Air Conditioners The Most Expensive?

Air conditioners follow seasonal trends in availability and pricing. Typically, they are most expensive when demand is peaked:

  • Early Summer (May – June) – Once hot weather arrives, demand for ACs spikes. Retail costs are highest during these months. Limited availability too.
  • Heatwaves – Prices can surge temporarily when heatwaves strike and demand surges. Inventory sells out quickly during heatwaves.
  • Short Supply – Periods of low inventory also lead to price inflations. Supply chain issues or manufacturing delays can limit availability.

Any time air conditioners are low in stock or high in demand, retail costs tend to rise. Making an off-season purchase usually saves significant dollars.

Factors That Impact Air Conditioner Pricing

Several key factors influence the retail pricing of air conditioners throughout the year:

  • Seasonal Demand – As mentioned, summer demand pushes prices up. Lower demand in fall and winter brings prices down.
  • Manufacturer Rebates – Rebates of $50 to $500 are common in spring/fall off-season buys. Rebates are less common in peak summer.
  • Seasonal Sales – Deep discount sales happen in fall and winter months when sellers want to clear inventory.
  • Model Year Changeovers – New model year units get introduced in early spring, putting older models on sale.
  • Inventory Levels – Low warehouse inventory after summer raises prices. High inventory in other months lowers prices.
  • Competition – More stores competing for sales in off-season months brings lower prices.

The Best Time of Year to Buy an Air Conditioner

Taking all pricing factors into account, the very best time to buy an air conditioner is in the fall and early winter months (October through December).

This timing offers multiple advantages:

  • Low seasonal demand brings lower retail pricing.
  • Manufacturer rebates of $100 to $200 are common during this period.
  • Air conditioner sales happen frequently as sellers clear out remaining summer inventory.
  • New model year AC units have been introduced already, so previous models go on sale.
  • Cooler weather means you aren’t forced to buy under pressure. You can take time to find deals.
  • Off-season purchasing avoids the risk of having limited choices during peak summer demand.
  • Fall/winter weather allows delivery and installation without time pressure.

Other Good Times to Purchase an Air Conditioner

While fall through winter is ideal, two other timeframes can also be good for finding air conditioner bargains:

1. Early Spring (March and April)

New AC model years begin rolling out in spring. This puts previous year models on sale to clear old inventory. March/April is also before the peak summer rush, so retailers may offer discounts to boost early sales.

The advantages of buying in early spring include:

  • Pre-season AC deals and sales – retailers are motivated to make sales before summer.
  • New model markdowns – older models still in inventory get discounted.
  • Less seasonal demand – buying before the rush avoids shortages and inflated costs.
  • Spring weather allows installation without hot weather time pressures.

Just be aware – the longer you wait into spring, the closer you get to peak summer demand. Discounts can dwindle and availability shrinks.

2. Early Autumn (September and October)

Early fall just after summer can sometimes offer end-of-season markdowns on remaining air conditioner inventory. Retailers may discount showroom models to make room for next year’s styles.

Benefits of an early autumn purchase:

  • Leftover mid- to high-end units from the summer may get marked down.
  • Still time to install the AC unit before cool weather sets in.
  • Does not tie you to rushed buying during peak summer months.

Early autumn deals are less consistent than other off-season times. But you may luck into an end-of-summer closeout bargain on any remaining units.

Buying at the Wrong Time: Avoid Peak Summer

The one time of year to absolutely avoid is peak summer, especially July/August. Trying to buy during hot mid-summer weather presents multiple drawbacks:

  • Highest retail pricing – summer demand reaches its peak.
  • Low/no inventory – many models sell out completely during heatwaves.
  • No sales or discounts – no motivation for sellers to reduce prices.
  • Potential installation delays – AC pros are overloaded with service calls.
  • Rushed purchasing – little time for shopping around or finding bargains.

Unless replacing a broken unit in an emergency, peak summer is the toughest time to buy an air conditioner. Better to purchase in the fall/winter off-season.

Air Conditioner Types and Deciding on Features

Beyond buying at the right time, choosing the optimal air conditioner type and features is also key. Consider these factors when selecting an AC unit:

Unit Type

  • Window AC Units – Best for one room. Can be installed in windows or through-wall. Budget friendly option.
  • Portable ACs – Wheeled units vented through a window kit. Can be moved room to room. Provide spot cooling.
  • Split System Central ACs – Most powerful. Allow whole-home cooling. Outdoor condenser connected to indoor air handler. Top choice for whole house.
  • Packaged Unit Central ACs – All-in-one external packaged units. Used where indoor space is limited. Don’t require an air handler.

Key Features

  • Air Filtration – Look for mesh pre-filters, activated carbon, and antimicrobial treatments. Helps clean indoor air.
  • Programmable Thermostats – Allow setting schedules and temperature comfort preferences. Adds convenience.
  • Multiple Fan Speeds – Faster fan speeds provide stronger cooling. Variable speeds allow more customization.
  • Dehumidifier Modes – Help reduce indoor humidity for added comfort in humid climates.
  • Remote Controls – Allow easy control without going to the AC unit. Convenient plus.
  • WiFi/App Control – Advanced units can be controlled and monitored via connected smartphone apps.

Properly Sizing Your Air Conditioner

An essential step, aside from timing and model selection, is ensuring your air conditioner is the right size for your space. An improperly sized AC will not provide adequate cooling or moisture removal and lead to higher bills.

A licensed HVAC pro should perform detailed calculations based on factors like:

  • Square footage of space
  • Number of rooms/zones
  • Sun exposure and window count
  • Insulation levels
  • Typical occupancy and usage
  • Local climate conditions

Oversizing or under-sizing by even 20% reduces efficiency and effectiveness. Precise sizing is vital for optimal performance.

Additional Tips for Buying an AC

Keep these other tips in mind to make your air conditioner purchase easy and hassle-free:

  • Shop around for deals, but buy from a licensed, reputable seller – don’t risk issues by using unlicensed contractors.
  • Check for available rebates – many utility providers offer rebates of $25 to $100 for Energy Star rated air conditioners.
  • Don’t automatically buy the largest possible unit – follow your HVAC pro’s sizing recommendations. Oversized units cost more upfront and have higher operating costs long-term.
  • Consider a central air system with zoning if cooling a large home – Zoned systems allow custom cooling in different areas of the home for comfort and efficiency.
  • Have a backup plan if ordering far ahead of installation – it’s smart to have a window unit or portable AC on hand in case of delay.
  • Schedule installation 2-3 weeks out from the purchase date – this allows time for delivery from the manufacturer.
  • Consider enrolling in a warranty or protection plan – they provide a low-cost way to cover repairs and give peace of mind.

Conclusion and Summary

Picking the optimal time to invest in a new air conditioner can lead to major savings and other benefits. By understanding key pricing trends and buying during the off-season fall and winter months, you can maximize value.

Avoid the temptation to buy in peak summer when shortages and rushed purchasing can result in costly mistakes or getting overcharged. Take time to find discounts and incentives when demand is lower.

Pairing strategic timing with proper sizing and selecting the right mix of features gives you an ideal air conditioning solution. Keeping our tips in mind takes the hassle out of when to purchase this important home system. With the right AC unit bought at the best time, you can stay comfortable in every season.

Frequently Asked Questions on Buying an Air Conditioner

Below are answers to some of the most common questions around the best time to purchase an air conditioning unit:

Should I wait until it gets hot outside to buy an AC?

No, it’s best not to wait until summer heat arrives to buy an air conditioner. Purchasing a unit during peak hot weather usually means paying inflated prices, having limited choices, and rushed decision making. It’s better to buy in the off-season fall through early winter months.

When do air conditioning prices start to drop?

Air conditioner prices start to decline in late summer and early fall. Once peak season demand falls off starting in September, AC prices decrease through the end of the year. The lowest prices are usually found between October and December.

Is it better to buy in the spring or fall?

While both spring and fall offer chances for deals, the fall season generally has lower prices and more incentives. Manufacturers are trying harder to make sales before the end of the year. Just make sure to buy early enough in fall to allow for delivery and installation before cold weather sets in.

How soon before summer should I install a new AC?

It’s recommended to install a new air conditioner 2 to 3 weeks before the hottest weather arrives. This ensures the unit is operating optimally when you need it most. It also allows sufficient time for delivery from the manufacturer and proper installation by your HVAC contractor.

Should I pay extra for a bigger AC unit?

Don’t pay extra for an oversized air conditioner. Units that are too large for your space will not cool evenly or effectively. It’s best to follow the properly calculated size recommendations from an HVAC pro. Bigger units cost more upfront without providing better cooling.

What features really matter when choosing an AC?

Some of the most useful air conditioner features include variable fan speeds, programmable thermostats, dehumidifier functions, remote control or WiFi/app connectivity, and high-performance air filtration. Focus on the features that fit your climate and usage needs rather than paying for unnecessary bells and whistles.

How can I find the best deals on air conditioners?

Checking for seasonal sales, manufacturer rebates, and retailer discounts will help you find the best bargain. Buying previous year models when new units hit the market is another great way to save. And purchasing in the off-season fall through winter months usually provides the biggest savings through lower prices and incentives.


Choosing when to invest in a new air conditioning unit for your home is about more than just waiting for hot weather. Following our guide will help you time your purchase to maximize savings, features, and the availability of discounted inventory. Avoid getting overcharged by buying in peak season. And work with an HVAC pro to right-size your AC unit. With smart timing and the right model, you can beat the summer heat for years to come.