Usually when I answer the question “How much does an HVAC system cost?”, the next question is “Why does an HVAC system cost SO much?”
Let’s start by putting the cost into perspective. When your home was built the contractor budgeted 6-7% of the total project for HVAC. So, a $300, 000 home will have an $18K-$21K budget for heating and cooling. This is typically a base model system that meets Energy Star minimum requirements. When the homeowner opts for upgrades in efficiency, zoning, and air quality. To upgrade to some of the highest efficiency equipment along with an integrated zoning system can add about 60% to the cost of installation and IAQ upgrades another 15%. Sounds crazy but we are seeing new homes with $30K-$40 worth of HVAC on a single system.
If you are replacing an existing system, there are some costs in new construction that you will not have to incur again. If sized properly, many contractors will use the existing copper refrigerant lines, drain lines, low voltage wiring and some of the ductwork. When replacing the complete system your contractor should properly size the system (can’t count on the new construction subcontractor or changes to the home), do an equipment match for efficiency, and provide guarantees and warranties of up to 10-15 years. In order to provide all of this the contractor typically changes out not only the appliance but all the installation materials as well.
This might (should) include;
All this in addition to the new furnace, evaporator coil and condenser. Over 100 parts and pieces with a cost of over $1500. A typical installation will take an experienced team of installation technicians 8-10 hours. That is without any ductwork modifications, duct cleaning or adding blown-in insulation.
How much does an HVAC system cost? Well, with the new SEER2 regulations effective 1/1/2023, manufacturers pricing is going up 15-20%. That is on top of 30% increases post COVID. A 3 ton, SEER2 compliant system installed with the materials listed above will cost $13,000 to $17,000. This is the base model system. Top efficiency, 25 SEER systems with Inverter technology variable speed compressors and variable speed furnace will be in the range of $23,000 to $30,000.
With those significant investments it is wise to consider financing. Most contractors offer multiple financing options. In our industry it is said “The most important day in the life of an HVAC system is the day it is installed.” The life/longevity of a system including its operating efficiency are dictated by the quality of the installation. A poor or improper installation can shorten the life of your system and compromise the efficiency you paid so dearly for. Your new system may have cost as much or more than a new car, but it should outlast any car. A properly installed and maintained system should be free of major repairs and operate at its designed efficiency for 15 plus years.