Consider all these factors when calculating the cost of a new AC unit
There’s few things worse than a day that is sweltering hot or freezing cold, when suddenly your air conditioner or heater goes on the fritz. It may be time to look at getting a new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit installed. Here’s why this might be well worth the expense:
The cost of a new central air conditioning system, including installation, ranges from $4,000 to $7,000 on average. It all depends on the HVAC company you choose and the condition of your current air conditioning setup (air ducts, installations, etc.).
Continue reading to learn more about the costs of installing a new system, and a few tips to help you save time and money.
Factors that affect installation costs
The cost of the new system you choose is only one part of the overall expense of a new central air system installation. You also have to consider the pre-installation work (evaluation, consultation, cost analysis, etc).
In addition, you may need to factor in possible air duct repair or installation and the cost of hiring an HVAC professional to complete this vital step.
First, a qualified HVAC team needs to perform a Manual J Load Calculation, a test where the contractor identifies the amount of heat a house takes in throughout the day. The results of this evaluation will help identify the required size of the air conditioner. A good audit can cost a few hundred dollars. Even so, you might want to check with your utility company to see if there are discounts available.
During the audit, the AC technician will identify air leaks, duct problems and any other issues that could affect the installation of the new air conditioner unit.
Home AC ducts
The contractor also needs to check your home’s ducts to make sure they can handle a new central air conditioning unit. Older ducts often have issues with managing the airflow of a new air conditioner.
Upgrades or new ductwork installations to aid in the functioning of a new system will increase the overall cost of the installation. However, new installations can also help you avoid higher energy bills and inefficient cooling, so it may balance out in the end.
AC unit choice
Following the audit, you’ll want to select your new AC unit. An experienced HVAC technician should suggest an AC unit that best fits the structure and size of your home. There are several options to choose from:
Another factor that will influence which type of AC system you need will be the size. The ability to cool is measured in tons. Most systems range from 1.5 to 5-ton capacities, but bigger is not always better. The air conditioner size should always be determined by the audit.
Read more about how to calculate what size AC system you need.
Don’t just choose an AC system simply for its Seasonal Energy Efficiency (SEER) rating. A higher SEER rating could cost more if improperly installed, especially when your home has a number of air leaks. An honest HVAC professional should carefully evaluate your home before giving you a quote on a unit. They should propose an AC system that fits the needs of your home and family.
Aside from the above costs, you will also need to budget for installation. HVAC contractors offer many different pricing points, but you don’t necessarily want to base your choice on the lowest bid either. About half of all central AC system installations are not installed correctly, and an inefficient setup means an efficiency loss of almost 30 percent.
Here is an approximate breakdown of the different costs:
- Existing system installation. Adding a central air conditioning unit to your current ductwork usually ranges from $6,000 to $8,000.
- Unit and ductwork. Installing new ductwork along with the unit ranges from $9,000 to $12,000.
How to lower the cost of a new AC installation
Consider scheduling your installation in the off-seasons of spring and fall, if possible. HVAC companies aren’t as busy during these times of the year and so they might offer discounts and specials that reduce your costs —or at the very least, you’ll have a faster turnaround time for installation. Of course, you can’t always predict when your AC or heating system will break down. At Richmond’s Air, we’re available any time of the year.
Another piece of advice is to look for rebates, incentives and discounts from municipal and state governments, local utility companies and AC manufacturers who are promoting the use of efficient AC systems. Purchasing a new energy efficient system will not only save you in the long term, but could lower your upfront costs if you can cash in on these offers.