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An effective HVAC system keeps your home comfortable and energy-efficient — but it isn’t a small investment. A new HVAC system can cost up to $22,000, depending on your home’s size, structure, and local climate. Prices also vary based on system type, system brand, and the HVAC contractors you work with.[1]  

A new HVAC system offers several benefits, including improved air quality in your home, more comfortable temperature levels, efficient energy consumption, and lower energy bills. In this guide, we’ll explore other factors that influence HVAC prices, as well as strategies for reducing HVAC and other utility costs.[2] 

New HVAC system: Costs and benefits

Investing in a new HVAC system can save you money and make your home more comfortable — but it does come with up-front costs. The average cost of a new HVAC system is $7,700 to $22,000, though prices vary based on your home and the system you buy.[1] A new system for your home can improve your family’s quality of life in various ways, including: 

  • Better air quality: An effective HVAC system draws dust, mold, and other pollutants out of the air, which is particularly beneficial to those with respiratory conditions like asthma.[2] 

  • Comfortable temperature levels: Old HVAC systems can struggle to adequately heat or cool homes and may lead to inconsistent temperatures across different rooms.[2] 

  • Improved safety: A functional HVAC system lowers the risk of certain household dangers, such as fire and carbon monoxide leaks.[2] 

  • Reduced carbon footprint: HVAC systems require a lot of energy to heat and cool your home. Newer systems use energy more efficiently when installed correctly.[2]

  • Lower energy bills: A new HVAC system runs more efficiently, which can reduce your energy bill by up to 30%.[2] 

Factors that affect HVAC replacement costs

How much you pay for your new HVAC system can vary broadly depending on the needs of your home. Below are some factors that influence the overall cost of purchasing and installing a new HVAC system. 

Size of home

Large homes require more energy to be heated and cooled than small homes. So, naturally, large homes require more powerful HVAC systems, which cost more to install. 

Structure of home

Structural characteristics of your home can affect HVAC system costs, including roof shape, window type, and insulation level. Homes with denser insulation are typically more energy efficient and can reduce energy usage and costs.[1] 

Type of HVAC system

Homeowners have many options when it comes to purchasing an HVAC system. For example, you can choose between a ductless or ducted system, which vary in price. Your home might already have ductwork, which will make it cheaper to install a new ducted system. You can also pay extra for additional features like programmable thermostats and heat pumps.[3] 

System efficiency

Every air conditioner model has a seasonal energy-efficiency ratio, or SEER, which measures how efficiently the unit cools a given space. A higher SEER means the system cools very efficiently. These systems tends to be more expensive but will lower your energy bills over the long term and are often the more financially friendly investment.[3]

Brand of system

HVAC costs vary by brand as well. Budget brands can help you save on equipment and installation, while more expensive brands typically boast more powerful features and high-end service. Different dealers also work with certain brands, which leads to more variability in price. Shop widely and compare estimates to find the best price.

Your local climate

Homes in warm climates have greater cooling needs, while homes in cold climates require stronger heating equipment. Make sure you buy the right system for your climate, as the wrong system will heat less efficiently, resulting in higher energy costs. 

Available rebates

Every state has passed some policies and incentives related to clean energy. If you live in a state like Minnesota, which has passed 136 clean energy policies and incentives, you have a better chance of qualifying for certain rebates and tax credits if you opt for an Energy Star-certified HVAC system than you would in Tennessee, which only has 15 such policies.[4]

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How to know if you need to replace your HVAC system

Replacing your heating and cooling system can significantly improve your home’s air quality, comfort level, and energy efficiency. Here are a few signs that it might be time to replace your HVAC system. 

Higher energy bills

Your system may be working inefficiently if you notice higher energy bills. This could indicate duct problems or malfunctioning equipment, which means it’s probably time to consider fixing or replacing your current HVAC system.[5]

Uncomfortable air quality

Sudden changes in air quality or temperature might mean something is wrong with your HVAC system. Excess dust around the home may indicate a leaky duct, which might mean it’s time for an equipment tune-up.[5]

Loud noises

You should definitely get your HVAC system inspected if it’s making unfamiliar noises, as this could indicate functional issues with your equipment.[5]

Leaks

System leakage is a telltale sign that something is wrong with your HVAC unit. Failing to address this issue means your AC unit may be running low on refrigerant, which can lead to greater problems down the road. These leaks can also be harmful to the environment.[6]

Even high-quality HVAC systems installed by expert teams eventually wear down, and different systems have varying life spans. For instance, an AC system typically lasts 15 years, while gas and electric heaters usually last 13 years.[7]

Consider replacing any equipment after 15 years of use, assuming problems don’t arise before then. Responsible HVAC maintenance, such as regularly cleaning and replacing air filters, extends your system’s lifespan and lowers the chances of costly repairs in the future.

Learn More: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover HVAC Systems?  

How to save money on HVAC installation

You can save on HVAC installation when you understand your home’s needs, research different systems, and take the time to shop around. Here are some strategies for reducing installation costs. 

Accurately measure your home’s size

Ask your contractor to do a load calculation to determine your home’s cooling capacity. If you don’t measure accurately and install an oversized system, you’ll end up overpaying and won’t properly cool your home. The right size system for your home ensures cost and energy efficiency.[3]

Compare quotes from different companies

Ask friends or search online for HVAC companies in your area. A team will usually come in and measure your home and assess any existing ductwork to determine a quote.[3] Compare quotes side by side and don’t immediately opt for the cheapest option without first reading customer reviews and asking for references. 

Get your project proposal in writing

HVAC installation can often run behind schedule and over budget. Set clear terms with your contractor regarding costs, the project timeline, and warranty information to avoid costly extensions. You can also ask the contractors for calculations from your home inspection to ensure the terms of the project are reasonable.[5]

Look for special offers

Installing an HVAC system is an expensive process, so it’s important to seek out any possible discounts. For instance, customers can receive rebates when they use Energy Star products, which meet strict energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.[5]

How to save money on utilities

Homeowners can cut utility costs in various ways. Here are some methods that can help you save money on utilities, including HVAC costs.  

Avoid overuse

Turning your thermostat off when you aren’t home or when you’re asleep can save you up to 10% on your energy bills. You can reduce your heating bills by 1% for each degree you lower your thermostat over an eight-hour period. Simple best practices — like letting in sunlight during the cold months and opening windows during the summer — can also reduce energy costs.[5]

Choose a programmable unit

Programmable thermostats and AC units save you money by turning on and off according to a pre-set schedule. If you go to work or bed at consistent times, your programmable unit can adjust to those patterns and operate accordingly — which saves you money on energy bills.[6]  

Request a home energy assessment

Contact your utility company about conducting an assessment of your home’s energy use. These assessments are usually affordable and can give you a good idea of how your home uses energy and where inefficiencies lie.

Good to Know:

Home energy audits cost $415 on average, but can run as high as $675, according to home repair and improvement site Angi.

Insulate your home thoroughly

Poorly insulated ducts allow air to escape, which can waste up to 30% of the energy used to run your system.[3] Your contractor should take a close look at your ductwork during installation to make sure your system properly fits your ducts. Additionally, insulating sufficiently around doors and windows prevents air from escaping and leads to more efficient energy use. 

Maintain your system

Read your system’s manual closely after installation, as it will include important information about caring for your HVAC system. For instance, you might need to regularly replace filters and keep the area around your system clean to extend its life and keep it running efficiently.[5]

Schedule regular checkups

Having professionals regularly inspect your system will ensure it functions efficiently and lasts a long time. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that regular preventative maintenance can save you up to 30% on energy bills over the course of your system’s lifetime.[2] Make sure your contractor does the following during each checkup: 

  • Tightens all electrical connections 

  • Inspects drains and motors

  • Checks the system’s controls and settings

  • Cleans air conditioning coils and blower components

  • Inspects all gas connections[5]

A thorough inspection won’t just maximize the cost efficiency of your system — it’ll also ensure it’s safely installed and not a potential safety hazard.

Check Out: What Is Equipment Breakdown Coverage?

Choose energy-efficient options

Installing an HVAC system with energy-efficient features can reduce your equipment’s energy consumption by as much as 50%. Energy Star offers certified EPA-approved heating and cooling equipment that boasts annual energy bill savings of 10% to 30%.[8]

HVAC system cost FAQs

Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about HVAC systems.

  • Different HVAC components have varying lifespans. Air conditioners, heat pumps, and electric steam boilers typically last 10 to 15 years, while furnaces last about 18 years. ASHRAE sets many guidelines in the HVAC industry and offers an equipment life expectancy chart to help customers understand how long their equipment will last.[7]

  • Though some systems may last longer, you should consider replacing your existing HVAC system after 10 years unless signs of dysfunction arise earlier. Strange noises from your system, leaks, inconsistent temperature regulation, and humidity in your home might indicate that something is wrong with your HVAC system and it’s time to replace it.[5]

  • Homeowners should change their HVAC filter every three months, and potentially monthly during seasons of peak use. Turn off your system before changing the filter, then follow the instructions in your system manual, ensuring your replacement filter is the right size.[9]

  • HVAC installation is a complex process that requires the labor of highly trained experts. HVAC installation often calls for an initial home inspection, which adds to the labor costs. And prices can be even higher if your home needs new ductwork.[3] Find the best deal on HVAC installation by comparing quotes from several different brands and contractors.

  • New federal income tax credits of up to $3,200 annually are available through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. These credits are available to homeowners who choose energy-efficient technology. You can still qualify for tax credits if you made energy-efficient home upgrades in the 2022 tax year.[10]

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Sources

  1. Remodel Gurus. "Central Air Conditioning Cost in 2022 – Complete Buyer’s Guide." Accessed February 7, 2023
  2. Indoor Air Quality Association. "HVAC Preventive Maintenance is Essential (6 Reasons Why)." Accessed February 7, 2023
  3. Consumer Reports. "Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide." Accessed February 7, 2023
  4. DSIRE | N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center. "Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®." Accessed February 7, 2023
  5. Energy Star. "Heating & Cooling." Accessed February 7, 2023
  6. Energy Saver. "U.S. Department of Energy." Accessed February 7, 2023
  7. Natural Handy Man. "ASHRAE Equipment Life Expectancy chart ." Accessed February 7, 2023
  8. U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. "Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)." Accessed February 7, 2023
  9. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. "Homeowner Maintenance: Changing the HVAC Filter." Accessed February 7, 2023
  10. Energy Star. "Federal Income Tax Credits and Incentives for Energy Efficiency." Accessed February 7, 2023
Mark Steinbach
Mark SteinbachInsurance Writer

Mark Steinbach is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to his years of work as a copywriter, he is also a TV writer with a degree in English from Harvard University. When he isn't writing, he can be found playing tennis or doing crossword puzzles.