How Much Does It Cost to Add Air Conditioning to a House?

by Frances Burks, Demand Media
    Duct installation drives up the cost of adding home air conditioning.

    Duct installation drives up the cost of adding home air conditioning.

    You may be sweating over what it could cost to add air conditioning to your home. But, depending on the type of system you choose, the price can range widely, and it may even be less than you think. While air conditioning isn't cheap, there's a good chance you can get a suitable unit without blowing your household budget.

    Central Air Conditioning

    The average cost to add a central, or whole-house, air conditioning system to a home ranged from about $2,200 to $2,800 in 2012, according to Homewyse data. Central air conditioners move cool air throughout a house through a duct system. Contractors usually link central air conditioners to the ducts of an existing home heating system. Average installation costs could double if a contractor has to add, or redo, duct work before installing a central air conditioner.

    Mini-Split System

    Consider a ductless, mini-split system if you want to add air conditioning to an older house that doesn't already have a heating system with duct work. Mini-split systems also are an option if there's not enough space in a basement or utility room to install ducts inside a house. The average cost of this type of air conditioning system ranged from around $1,600 to $2,800 in 2012, based on Homewyse pricing.

    Room Air Conditioner

    A room, or window, air conditioner may be noisier than other models, but it also could save you some cash. Room models sometimes use less energy, because they don’t work to keep several rooms cool at one time the way central air conditioners do. On average, Homewyse pricing shows that room air conditioners ranged from $300 to $400 in 2012. At those prices, you could put a unit in several rooms of a house and still spend less than you would on other air conditioning systems.

    Cost Calculators

    The cost of adding any type of air conditioner to a house depends on the price of materials and labor in your area. Online cost calculators can help you estimate local installation costs. Homewyse's cost calculators, for example, require users to enter their zip code to get a summary of average costs for the type of air conditioner they want to install. The calculators also provide average costs for a variety of price categories, from basic to high-end.

    About the Author

    Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.

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