How Much Does Central Air Conditioning Cost

How Much Does Central Air Conditioning Cost?

As the scorching summer months approach, and you find yourself seeking relief in front of a fan, the dream of having a whole-house air conditioning system becomes more appealing. Though air conditioning installation isn’t always complex, it’s advisable to collaborate with a licensed and insured HVAC contractor to ensure a proper and efficient setup. Here’s essential information on air conditioner installation and choosing the ideal model for your home:

Air conditioning installation costs vary for most homeowners, typically falling between $3,979 and $11,180.

The total cost depends on your chosen system type, unit capacity, number of systems, efficiency, and the size of your home or office.

To determine the appropriate air conditioning system, consider the size of your home.

You can select from various system types, including:

  • Window units: Singular A/C system units installed in windows.
  • Split systems: Available as either mini-split (ductless) or central systems, with installations of inside and outside units.
  • Central system: Utilizes a duct system typically combined with the heating system to cool the entire house.

Portable units: Come in split, hose, or evaporative systems for easy movement around the house.

What are EER and SEER Ratings?

When seeking the best cooling unit for your home, prioritize energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Home air conditioner professionals assist in load calculations to determine this factor, followed by assessing the energy efficiency ratio (EER) and seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings of cooling units. Here’s what you need to know about these two measures of efficiency.

EER Ratings

The EER serves as a certification of HVAC units’ cooling efficiency. It is determined by dividing the rate of cooling in British thermal units (BTUs) per hour by the rate of energy input in watts at a specific temperature. The calculation considers BTUH/WATT at dry bulb (db) versus wet bulb (wb) temperatures. An optimal cooling unit rating is around 80db/67wb inside and 95db/75wb outside. These factors play a crucial role in evaluating the efficiency of cooling systems.

SEER Ratings

For those residing in climates with significant temperature fluctuations, an air conditioning system’s SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) plays a vital role. SEER is determined by dividing the cooling output during the winter by its electric input during the winter. A higher SEER rating signifies increased efficiency. As of January 2006, U.S. standards mandate cooling units to have a minimum SEER of 13. If your home has a system installed before that date, consider replacing it. SEER 13 units can improve home efficiency by up to 30 percent, making them an excellent choice for energy-conscious homeowners.

Air Conditioning Installation Cost Factors

Before homeowners decide to invest in an air conditioning system, they should take into account several factors beyond load calculation, energy efficiency ratings, and brand manufacturers. These additional considerations play a crucial role in ensuring a well-informed and satisfactory choice for their specific cooling needs. It’s essential to explore these aspects to embrace the most suitable and efficient air conditioning solution for their home:

Installing the Air Conditioning Unit

Before commencing air conditioning system installation, it is crucial to make an informed decision as it significantly impacts the overall cost. Opting for a split or central system will necessitate hiring a licensed and insured air conditioning professional for the installation.

Air conditioning installation cannot be a DIY project due to the handling of refrigerant, which is responsible for cooling the air. Professionals must obtain licensing from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before dealing with this substance due to its hazardous nature. The installation process of an air conditioning system is complex and requires the expertise of qualified professionals.

Additional Questions and Considerations

Do you already have a central heating system?

A significant number of central air conditioning systems utilize the furnace blower to circulate cool air throughout the home. If you lack a central heating system, it proves cost-effective to install a heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system simultaneously. Conversely, if you already have central heat in place, you can leverage the existing fans and duct system for the central air system, streamlining the installation process and potentially reducing costs.

Do you need ductwork?

Although most new homes have ducts and vents already in place, many older homes have old convection heating systems or baseboard heaters without ductwork. In such cases, you will need to install ducts and vents to provide the air conditioning with a flow system. This would be the time to explore upgrading the existing heating system as well, as it will be less expensive to do together.

How’s the insulation in your home?

If your home boasts solid construction and effective insulation, your heating and cooling systems will operate more efficiently, leading to cost savings. On the other hand, if your insulation is inadequate, you can expect significantly higher utility bills. It is essential to assess the condition of your insulation and consider the costs of upgrading or installing new insulation. Doing so can lead to long-term savings on energy expenses, making it a worthwhile investment in the overall efficiency and comfort of your home.

Other Central Air Conditioning Facts

Determining Air Conditioning Unit Quality

When installing your air conditioning unit, ensure its quality and long-term performance by considering the following questions:

  • Is the sizing correct? The equipment must be accurately sized to deliver optimal air conditioner performance for your home. Professionals measure your home and perform load calculations to determine the right size.
  • Is the duct system suitable for the air conditioning unit? Damaged, leaking, or incomplete ducts can impact your air conditioner’s performance. Your air conditioning contractor will repair or install additional ducts, if necessary, to ensure everything works efficiently.
  • How is the airflow? Proper airflow is essential to avoid increased energy bills or hot spots in your home’s rooms. A contractor can measure the volume and adjust ducts or vents for optimal airflow.
  • What about the refrigerant? The refrigerant cools the air flowing through your home, and its liquid is consumed by the HVAC system. Insufficient refrigerant can lead to increased energy consumption and excess moisture in the air. An HVAC professional will check the refrigerant charge and make adjustments if needed.

Central Air Conditioning Warranties

When you install a new air conditioning unit, it will always come with a warranty from the manufacturer. The length of this warranty may vary depending on the manufacturer, typically ranging from five to 15 years, with an average duration of 10 years. The manufacturer’s warranty provides coverage for the equipment and parts within the machine.

In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, there is also a contractor’s warranty. This warranty covers the labor for A/C unit repairs and any additional work required, such as encasing the air conditioner in protective metal and wiring it to the home.

Keep in mind that products with indoor air quality (IAQ) modifiers have a separate warranty, which may be shorter than that of a central A/C unit. So, when considering such products, it’s essential to take their warranty coverage into account before making your investment. You may also invest in an extended warranty, which can cover:

  • Cost of replacement parts
  • Additional years for repair costs by a third party (i.e., no out of pocket expenses)
  • Coverage by the manufacturer

Extended warranties can be pricey, often exceeding the cost of regular maintenance. These warranties typically come with strict limitations, which may necessitate upfront payment for repairs and repetitive follow-ups for reimbursement. Moreover, if you move out of your home or decide to upgrade your system before 10 years, you might end up paying for a warranty that you no longer utilize.