How to Estimate the Cost to Install Heating & Cooling in My House

Replacing a window unit with central air conditioning keeps your entire house cool.

Replacing a window unit with central air conditioning keeps your entire house cool.

Whether your home has never had heat and air or you’re replacing the unit you already have, central heat and air can be pricey. On average, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,000, but it’s important to get multiple heating and air estimates before you settle on one service provider. To estimate your heating and cooling cost, you’ll need to know the square footage of your house, plus request heating and cooling estimates from several companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your installation and equipment.

Heating and Cooling Installation Cost

Your heating and cooling estimate will include the cost of labor as well as the price of the equipment. For that reason, you may find it tough to compare multiple services, as each sells different brands of equipment. It can help to do plenty of research on the front end so you’ll know exactly the type of unit you need, and then ask each service provider to give you a quote for the entire job that you can then compare.

The unit is a large part of your heating and cooling installation cost. You’ll need to make sure you choose a unit that can adequately cool the square footage of your home, while also making sure you don’t get a larger unit than necessary. As a general rule, you’ll need one ton of cooling for every 500-600 square feet. So take the size of your home and do the math to determine exactly how much cooling power you’ll need.

Getting an Accurate Estimate

In addition to the equipment, your cooling installation cost will also include updating your home to handle the demands of today’s systems. This may not be necessary if your home has been built in recent years, but you’ll also need to have the vents and refrigerant lines necessary to efficiently cool your house using the latest and greatest equipment. If modifications like new ductwork need to be run, this will add to your cost.

Prior to giving you a heating and air estimate, some HVAC service providers will do a walk-through to determine exactly what your needs are. Some companies will charge for this service, but once it’s been completed, you’ll have it in hand so you can get estimates from competitors and choose the lowest price. One of the most accurate evaluations will involve professionals conducting a home energy audit to find leaks and other inefficiencies so that they can set up a system that will be as efficient as possible.

Saving Money on Installation

Before you get a heating and cooling estimate, there are some things you can do to keep your costs as low as possible. One is to do the installation yourself, as long as you’re comfortable doing that type of work. Even if you do have the extensive knowledge and experience necessary to install everything yourself, you may end up spending more money, as HVAC installers typically get a professional deal on the parts and equipment.

As you get heating and air estimates, though, keep in mind that a cost savings on installation won’t help if it isn’t done correctly. In fact, approximately half of all HVAC systems are installed incorrectly, leading to a reduction in efficiency of as much as 30 percent. You can save yourself money over the long run by paying for the best on the front end.

One way you may be able to save money is to have your system installed in the off season. HVAC companies are typically busiest in the warmest and coldest months of the year, so by waiting until spring or fall to have your system replaced, you may be able to not only get a better deal but also enjoy faster turnaround times.

Tip

  • Check to see whether contractors you are accepting bids from are rated by the Better Business Bureau.

Warning

  • A poorly installed heating and cooling system can cost you more over the long run, as it needs to work hard to control the temperature in your home, according to the Department of Energy.

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About the Author

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a ghostwriter for a credit card processing service and has ghostwritten about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, Ecommerce Insiders, GoBankingRates, and ThriveBy30.

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