Plenty of homeowners dread having to purchase a new air conditioner. But what’s not to love about increasing your home’s value, lowering your monthly energy bills and having a zen-like peace-of-mind that you won’t need repairs for years to come?
For most homeowners, the worry about a new AC comes down to cost. So let’s take a look at the facts. The cost to install a central air conditioner ranges from just over $4,000 to $10,000 or more.
From our experience here at Michael & Son, that isn’t far from the mark. Our average installation cost sits just around $6,000.
This article is designed to help you feel more comfortable about why an AC installation or replacement costs what it does. So, we’ll be looking at three distinct price factors:
- The cost of the new AC system
- The cost of any duct repairs or modifications
- The cost of having an AC professionally installed
We’ll also share a few pro tips to lower your installation costs as much as possible!
Want a great deal on a replacement AC?
If you’re looking for honest advice from a reputable HVAC contractor on the latest high-efficiency AC systems, then you can’t go wrong with Michael & Son. We can even help you finance that new AC with APRs as low as 0%! Give us a call today and we’ll set you up with an in-person, no-obligation free estimate.
1. The cost of the new AC system
Homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to selecting a new AC system. And that’s great news because it means there’s an AC system available for every budget.
The price range for these AC systems varies across the board, from $3,000 to $6,000 or more. System price comes down to two main cost factors:
- AC size
- AC efficiency
Let’s take a look at these factors in more detail.
Selecting the right AC size
AC size is a bit of a misnomer. Size in this case refers to the amount of heat a system can remove from a home per hour. This is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. As the number of BTUs a system can handle increases, so does the price of the system. Essentially, the larger the AC, the more expensive it will be.
That being said, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to the size of your AC system.
If the AC is too small, it’ll never be able to cool your home properly and will run longer and harder to try and meet demand.
If it’s too big, it’ll cool the home too fast, forcing the system to cycle on and off too often.
Either mistake can cost a homeowner hundreds of dollars in energy costs annually and increase the likelihood of breakdowns.
So how exactly do you find the right size AC for your home? The HVAC experts at Michael & Son recommend hiring a professional to perform a Manual J load calculation on the home. A professional load calculation takes into account factors such as:
- The number of rooms in your home
- The total square footage of your home
- The number of windows and doors you have
- The type of insulation you have
And that’s just for starters! House orientation, house layout, outdoor landscaping, duct location, number of occupants and much more are factors considered in a Manual J load calculation.
Selecting the right AC efficiency
The more efficient the system, the less it costs to run, but the more it costs upfront to purchase. Therefore, every homeowner will have to decide on the right balance between efficiency and upfront cost that makes the most sense to them.
The most common way to determine AC efficiency is by reviewing its SEER rating. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings range from 13 to 25 for new systems. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system.
One important consideration regarding SEER ratings is that higher may not always be better. First off, SEER is a measurement that determines the system’s maximum efficiency. For example, a 25 SEER system can reach as high as 25 SEER. But that doesn’t mean the same system will reach anywhere near 25 SEER during peak operation in the middle of summer.
Second, the criteria for becoming an EnergyStar-rated system (important for certain energy efficiency rebates) is currently 15 SEER. In other words, SEER scores within the 13 to 15 mark shouldn’t be considered “poor” energy ratings. They’re actually quite good!
Pro buying tip: Look for manufacturer rebates and tax credits
Michael & Son can help you find an excellent Energy Star rated Carrier system to help you save as much money as possible on your purchase.
2. The cost of duct repairs or modifications
We like to say that a new AC system is only as good as the ductwork in your home. If a home’s ductwork is in disrepair, the cool air will escape and leave you no better than you were before.
In other words, cleaning maintenance, repairs, renovations or modifications to a home’s ductwork may be necessary to protect your brand new AC investment. And these services will add to the cost of the installation.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the duct services a homeowner may encounter when installing a new AC system:
- Cleaning maintenance: One of the best times to clean out a home’s ductwork is just prior to installing a new system. While this is optional, it may help reduce allergens and dust which makes its way into your home.
- Repairs: Repairing ductwork may include patching or sealing up holes, or making repairs to damaged sections of the duct network.
- Modifications: If a home has undergone a major redesign, or new rooms have been added, there’s a good case for modifying the ductwork to ensure those new spaces get the same quality of airflow found in the rest of your home.
3. The cost of having an AC professionally installed
You won’t find two contractors that have the same labor rate, or hand you the same estimate for an installation job. That’s because all contractors base their internal labor rates on their experience, years in business, reviews and many other factors.
It goes without saying, but the more value a contractor brings to the job, the higher their rates will be. And while it may seem like a good idea at the time to choose the lowest installation quote of the bunch, that choice often comes back to haunt the homeowner later on.
Finding a quality contractor for the job can be tough. But you can always tell a good contractor if they:
- Perform a load calculation prior to installing the new system: If a contractor comes in and immediately talks to you about new systems, it’s not a good sign. All Michael & Son installers are trained on proper Manual J load calculation technique and are required to perform them before providing an estimate to our customers.
- Have licensed and insured techs: A technician that’s not licensed and insured in the state they operate in can leave a customer high and dry if something goes wrong during the installation. At Michael and Son, all of our experts are licensed and insured.
- Have flat-rate installation costs: Without a flat-rate price going into the installation, the customer could end up paying for every time-consuming mistake a contractor makes. That’s why Michael & Son protects our customers with a fixed-price rate before the job begins.
Have lots of excellent reviews: It goes without saying, but the more reviews a contractor has, the more peace of mind a customer will get. With over 5,000 reviews and counting, Michael & Son is one of the most reviewed HVAC contractors in the country.
Pro buying tip: Search for off-season deals
Some manufacturers and even HVAC contractors offer discounts on new systems depending on the season. The best time to check for off-season deals are the Fall and Spring months. A good rule of thumb is, if the weather outside is perfect, it’s a great time to set up an AC install!
Looking for an AC Installation? We can help!
Michael & Son delivers exceptional AC installations in a timely manner—just a day flat on average! We offer 0% interest financing on the best Carrier comfort systems around. And our comfort engineers let you decide on the best system for your home by providing multiple options to best meet your needs.