Is your air conditioning unit past its prime? Does it make strange noises when it runs, or operates inefficiently, if at all? It’s likely time to replace your AC unit. Buying a new one is not cheap, but it will add value to your home and make it more comfortable for you and your family, to say the least. But how do you know how much to pay? What is a price point that will get you a good value air conditioner, without breaking the bank on unnecessary features (or a high-end brand name)? In this brief post, we will answer these questions and more, discovering the true cost of a high-quality air conditioner, and the factors that contribute to it.
The True Cost of A New Air Conditioning Unit
The national average cost of a new, air conditioning unit is about $5,400. However, the price you pay could vary based on a number of factors and considerations, making the possible highest price point topping off at over $12,000! Find out more about these factors (and how to save a few hundred bucks) by reading about them below.
Factors that Influence an Air Conditioning Unit’s Price
Like many products you buy, some units are known for their high quality. Some have a brand name that commands a higher price. If you go for a high-end brand such as Trane or Carrier, you should expect to pay more than you will for a unit made by a lesser-known company.
Size and Installation
One of the most important factors is the size of the unit you need. The larger the unit, the more it will cost to purchase and install. An HVAC professional from Presidential can perform what is called a “load calculation” to ensure you calculate the right-sized unit based on the square footage, layout, and configuration of your home.
A professionally trained technician will measure each room and evaluate many important characteristics that are relevant to determining the correct size unit. The load calculation will factor in your climate, size, shape, and orientation of your home. It will also take into consideration your home’s insulation, windows, walls, floors, existing ductwork, and other characteristics of your home that are germane to the calculation.
As a general rule of thumb, every 500 or 600 square feet of space in your home requires one ton of cooling. Applying that rule of thumb, a 1,500 square foot home would need a 3-ton unit and the cost of installation is around $4,000 on average. A 2,000 square foot home would need a 4-ton unit with installation running about $4,500 on average.
These cost and size figures are only ballpark estimates, so it is important to get a quote from an experienced professional who can perform an accurate load calculation for you.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season divided by the energy it consumed in watt-wours. It is the average calculated over a single cooling season and is figured using a constant indoor temperature and a variety of outdoor temperatures, ranging from the 60’s to the 100’s, thus simulating a typical cooling season.
Modern air conditioners have a SEER rating ranging from 13 or 14, while older air conditioners are rated at a SEER of about 8 – 9. A new 14 SEER unit is significantly more efficient than an older unit and usually meets the minimum efficiency standards for the area that you live in, which can increase the resale value of your home.
Units with higher SEER ratings can also provide other performance and monetary benefits. A high-efficiency HVAC system will maximize the amount of cooling (and heating) power extracted from a single unit of energy. Higher efficiency means less energy used which can reduce your monthly energy bills, saving you money every month. For optimum savings, a load calculation can help you identify the ideal SEER rating for your home and lifestyle. As a result of these long-term benefits, air conditioning units with a higher SEER rating is typically more expensive than those with lower ratings.
Furthermore, replacement component parts for higher SEER rated units are also often more expensive than lower-rated (older) units. Depending on the characteristics of your home, a unit with a SEER of 14 or over may be warranted, but it may not be worth the cost. An HVAC expert can help you make that determination based on a professional load calculation of your home.
Note: Sometimes people will try to improve the efficiency of their old system by replacing a low SEER component with a high SEER component. This will only put undue strain on all the other components. If you want to improve the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, you need to upgrade all the components at once or purchase a new AC unit. Only then will your systems work together efficiently and properly.
Adding to Existing Forced Air Heat
You may be able to save a little by adding a new central air system to an existing forced-air heating system. That way, you can use your furnace blower to distribute cool air throughout your home. In many cases, however, you need a new heating system as well. It is most cost-effective to install a heating and air conditioning system at the same time. If you do not need to replace your central heat, you can use the existing fans and duct system for the central air system.
Contact the HVAC Experts at Presidential for More Information
Keep in mind: the facts and figures provided above are general estimates only. If you want a system that will be the most energy-efficient for your home and the least expensive to run, it is best practice to consult a professional HVAC technician. The HVAC professionals at Presidential can give you quality advice on the best system for your home. For more information about air conditioning units or to schedule a free air conditioning replacement estimate, contact the HVAC experts at Presidential Heating & Air today!