The average HVAC replacement cost is $7,000, with most homeowners paying between $3,000 and $12,000, depending on the system’s size, type, and energy efficiency. We’re going over how to calculate HVAC unit replacement costs, including the cost of a new HVAC unit, ductwork, and additional factors to consider.
Importance of a Functional HVAC System
What is an HVAC system? It refers to the whole heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system of a building. A fully functional HVAC system keeps the indoor air at the right temperature and removes indoor pollutants like smoke and dust.
HVAC systems make buildings more comfortable, which is essential for activities like working and learning. They provide the right indoor environment in all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, and industrial, by controlling temperature, air quality, and humidity.
Overview of Replacement vs. Repair Considerations
HVAC systems last 15 to 25 years, depending on several factors. Over time, HVAC systems will inevitably require repair and replacement, and you should evaluate each factor that influences the costs before determining the best option.
Factors in Calculating HVAC Unit Replacement Cost
HVAC systems consist of several components, depending on the type of system. In general, there are four main components:
- Heating system– provides heat to the building and can be a furnace, boiler, or heat pump.
- Cooling system– cools the building, can be a central AC unit or a heat pump.
- Ventilation system– a system of blowers, vents, filters, and ducts that circulate air in the building.
- Ductwork– a network of ducts that distribute air from heating and cooling systems to the living areas.
Several factors influence the cost of replacing an HVAC system. The size of the units, brand names, and energy efficiency ratings are the primary factors that affect the HVAC unit cost, while the complexity of the installation and labor costs contribute to the overall price.
Size and Capacity of the Unit
The overall space HVAC systems can heat and cool determines their size. Several factors will determine the best combination of units and sizes for your home’s HVAC needs, such as your climate, insulation levels, and the layout of your house.
Brand and Quality Grade
Top-name brands like Trane, American Standard, York, and Carrier cost more but offer significant quality and reliability. The top brands are covered by warranty for more extended periods, and replacement parts are often easier to find.
The best brands in HVAC have a network of qualified installers committed to providing high-quality installations according to the stringent standards set by the manufacturer.
Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER, AFUE)
Energy efficiency ratings also affect the cost of HVAC system components, whether the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating or the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating.
SEER ratings measure the efficiency of an HVAC component’s cooling powers. It’s a figure determined by dividing the seasonal cooling BTUs by the electricity consumed. If your AC unit is older than 10 years, it probably has a SEER rating of about 8 to 10, but the industry standard is 13 to 26.
The AFUE rating is a percentage that describes how efficiently a furnace or heat pump uses fuel to provide heat.
- An AFUE rating of 90% to 98.5% is considered high efficiency.
- An AFUE rating of 80% to 89% is considered mid-efficiency.
- Anything below an 80% AFUE rating is considered low efficiency.
Installation Complexity and Labor
The more complex the installation of your HVAC system is, the more time it will take, thus increasing the HVAC installation cost. For example, if you already have ductwork for a furnace, you’ll pay less to install a new AC unit.
One of the biggest advantages of heat pump systems is that only one unit needs to be installed, while with other HVAC systems require both a furnace and an AC unit. Similarly, the advantage of ductless mini-split systems is that they are easier to install because there is less ductwork.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Ductwork Evaluation and Potential Replacement
When upgrading your HVAC system, you must have your ductwork evaluated. Professionals typically recommended to have the ductwork replaced rather than repaired if it’s old or damaged.
The average cost of ductwork for HVAC systems is usually between $2,400 and $5,600, depending on the size and layout of the building. Ductwork costs $25 to $65 per linear foot.
Required Permits and Local Regulations
Many municipalities require permits for HVAC unit installation to ensure that buildings are in compliance with codes and regulations. It also confirms that installers and technicians are licensed and certified.
HVAC system permits for ductwork cost between $50 and $500, while permits for HVAC unit installation permits cost $250 to $15,000, depending on where you live.
Thermostat Upgrades or Replacements
Old HVAC units use much more power than new models with better efficiency ratings. Replacing or upgrading your thermostat can maximize the energy efficiency of your new HVAC unit.
The average cost to replace a thermostat is $150 to $350.
Potential Structural Modifications
Your home may require structural modifications to install a new HVAC system. Some possible modification examples include additional insulation, an electrical panel with more capacity, or venting to an outside wall for an HVAC system component.
HVAC Unit Replacement Cost by Type
HVAC systems typically combine furnaces and air conditioners, although heat pumps perform both functions. Learn more about the HVAC unit replacement cost by type of component.
Central Air Conditioners
A new central air conditioner will increase the value of your property, lower your electricity costs, and make your home more comfortable. The average new central AC unit cost ranges from $5,000 to $11,000, depending on the size of your home and the cooling capacity you need.
Features and Average Cost
Central AC units are split or packaged systems. Packaged systems, which are single units, typically cost less to install than split-system AC units.
The average cost of central air conditioning units is $5,800.
Furnaces (Gas, Electric, Oil)
HVAC system furnaces can be powered by oil, electricity, or gas.
Distinctions and Price Ranges
Of the three, oil furnaces last longer and put out more heat, while electric systems tend to cost more to operate. Natural gas furnaces are the least expensive to operate, but not everyone has access to natural gas infrastructure.
Here are the average costs of furnaces for an HVAC system:
- Electric furnaces- $2,500 to $3,500
- Gas furnaces- $3,000 to $4,000
- Oil furnaces- $5,000 to $8,000
Air-source and geothermal heat pumps utilize the same basic technology as the refrigerator in your kitchen, transferring heat from one area to another. They are a relatively new technology gaining popularity due to their high-efficiency ratings.
Functionality and Typical Cost
Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient type because they use the consistent temperature of the earth to heat and cool your building throughout the year. However, they cost more to install.
Here are the average costs of heat pumps:
- Air-source heat pump- $4,000 to $8,000
- Geothermal heat pump- $15,000 to $40,000
Dual Heating and Cooling Benefits
Heat pumps can heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. The advantage of having your heating and cooling combined in one unit is that it reduces installation and maintenance costs.
A hybrid HVAC system combines a gas furnace with an electric heat pump, and the system alternates between the two to provide the most efficient heating and cooling possible.
Combined Heating/Cooling and Price Point
Hybrid systems for HVAC cost between $2,500 and $10,000. They are often used in colder climates where heat pumps aren’t sufficient to keep buildings warm during the winter.
Signs I Need to Replace My HVAC Unit
If you’re wondering whether or not you need to replace your HVAC unit, here are some signs that indicate it’s time for a replacement.
Aging Unit and Its Typical Lifespan
The average lifespan of an HVAC unit is about 15 to 25 years. If your unit is approaching or has exceeded this age range, it may be time to consider a replacement.
Rising Energy Bills Despite Regular Usage
HVAC units become less efficient and require more energy to operate as they age. A significant increase in your energy bills is a sign that your unit is no longer functioning optimally and needs to be replaced.
Frequent Repairs and Inconsistent Functioning
Are you on a first-name basis with the repair technician? Frequent repairs are a sign that your unit is nearing the end of its lifespan.
On average, annual maintenance costs are about $100 to $200. Investing in a new HVAC unit could be more cost-effective if you’re paying much more than this.
Uneven Heating/Cooling and Noise Issues
Strange noises, smells, and uneven heating and cooling are other signs that your HVAC unit needs to be replaced. Your ductwork could also be part of the problem.
DIY HVAC Unit Replacement vs. Hiring a Professional
Is hiring a professional HVAC technician better, or can you DIY HVAC unit replacement? While many homeowners are comfortable installing a window AC unit, installing an HVAC unit isn’t a DIY-friendly project.
Some types of HVAC installations require professional certification and specialized knowledge to be installed properly. Also, DIYing your own HVAC system installation can cause the warranty to be voided.
How to Save Money on HVAC Unit Replacement Cost
Here’s how to save money on HVAC unit replacement costs.
Tax credits for energy-efficient systems– Visit EnergyStar.gov to learn more about tax credits for energy-efficient HVAC systems.
Seasonal discounts and manufacturer promotions– Ask your installer or technician about seasonal discounts, and visit manufacturer websites to learn about promotions.
Opting for last year’s models– Last year’s model is often just as good as the latest one and may be available at a considerable discount.
Regular maintenance to prolong unit lifespan– Ask your installer about maintenance packages. Twice-yearly maintenance is recommended to prolong the lifespan of your HVAC units.
Making Informed Choices for Comfort and Savings
Replacing your HVAC system is a significant investment, but it can make your home comfortable all year while reducing energy costs. Technological innovations in energy-efficient heating and cooling systems are worth considering when making the best decision for your home and budget.
Frequently Asked Questions About HVAC Unit Replacement Cost
How often should I replace different HVAC components?
The lifespan of HVAC system components is about 15 to 25 years. Depending on your system type, one of your units may fail and need to be replaced before the others. However, you should replace all components if your system is nearing the 20-year mark.
Does a higher SEER rating guarantee lower bills?
Higher SEER ratings equate to savings on energy bills because units with high SEER ratings operate more efficiently. A higher SEER rating guarantees reduced energy costs if all other things are equal.
Can I replace only a part of my HVAC system, like just the AC?
Depending on how old your system is, you can get by replacing only part of your HVAC system. If your system is older than 15 years, replacing both your AC and furnace is often recommended. You might also need new ductwork.
What’s the most cost-effective HVAC system?
Over the long term, the most cost-effective HVAC systems are geothermal heat pump systems. One of the biggest advantages is that the heat pump unit is used for both heating and cooling. In addition, the energy efficiency of heat pump systems exceeds all other HVAC system components.
How do extended warranties affect the overall cost?
Many of the top name-brand HVAC units come with an extended warranty, and some even come with a limited lifetime warranty. You can also purchase an extended warranty. The cost depends on several factors, including the labor rates where you live. The more coverage you purchase, the more it will cost.