How Much Does an HVAC System Replacement Cost?

  • By: Cheli Scott
  • Date: Nov 03 2022

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How much does an HVAC system replacement cost?

If your current system is failing or older than fifteen years, you might be considering an HVAC system replacement. Your home heating and cooling system is an integral, but often forgotten part of your home until it stops functioning. Of course, that often happens when the weather is at extremes, leaving you miserable in your own home.

In order to give your ac system the longest life possible, its important to schedule and perform monthly, bi-annual, and annual maintenance. However, that can only go so far.

Eventually, you will want to replace or upgrade your entire system to take advantage of new energy efficient technology. You may also want to get an entire HVAC system if you find yourself making frequent repairs.

A new HVAC system can seem like a costly, complicated endeavor, but we’ve assembled some information to help get you started on this big home improvement project and save some money upfront.

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What kind of HVAC unit should I buy?

There are many configurations and options available for HVAC systems. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle one might be a better option than another for your HVAC installation.

What does an HVAC system do?

Home HVAC systems are designed to provide three things, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. They usually come with some kind of heating unit, an ac unit, and may include some kind of ductwork for ventilation.

If you live in a cold region you may need more heating than cooling. Likewise, if you live in a warm climate, you may not need much heating at all.

If you live in a place like Florida, you may need more ventilation than someone who lives in Colorado, to deal with the increased humidity. Fortunately for the consumer, there are options available to fit whatever conditions you find yourself in.

An outdoor air conditioner behind some tulips

What are the common types of HVAC systems?

HVAC systems come in a few basic configurations. Depending on where you live one may be more useful to you than another. Each configuration has its own price and installation costs.

For some the installation may be more expensive because of the type of system. If you need to upgrade ductwork, there will also be additional labor costs.

An outdoor air conditioning unit behind a house

Furnace and air conditioner system

This system pairs a furnace with an air conditioner to provide heating and cooling. The furnace can be either electric or fueled by natural gas, while the air conditioner is usually an outdoor unit.

This system requires ductwork to move cool or warm air through the home. This type of system will require a professional to perform the installation. The cost to replace this kind of system is around $10,000.

Mini split system

A ductless mini split system is an appealing option if you don’t want high installation costs. You are able to install mini split systems yourself because they are single units that are placed in each room you want to heat and cool.

However, since they are mounted in each room the costs can add up if you have a large home. These systems are priced in a wide range, costing between $3,000 and $10,000.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are a high-efficiency option for those who would like an all in one system. A heat pump moves warm air from one place to another, so they can work both ways, heating and cooling. They come in a few different varieties depending on your price point.

Air-source heat pump

An air-source heat pump pulls energy from the air outside your home and brings it indoors to warm you. It also works the opposite way, taking warm air from inside and moving it outside to cool your home. These are the most common types of heat pumps and can cost between $2,000 and $5,000.

Geothermal heat pump

Geothermal heat pumps are interesting because they take heat from the water in the earth and use it to warm your home. They tend to cost more money than other systems because they require a considerable amount of construction to install.

However, they are incredibly efficient and will save you money in the long run. These systems cost between $15,000 and $35,000.

Gas-fired heat pump

These heat pumps operate the same way as an air-source heat pump, but use natural gas as fuel instead of electricity. These models are usually used in larger homes that need more capacity than an air-source heat pump can provide. They are also better for the environment because they don’t use ozone damaging refrigerants. These units cost between $4,500 and $8,000.

The size of your home matters to your air conditioner

The size of your home will play a role in the cost of your air conditioning replacement. A smaller family living in a home with fewer rooms, will pay less for heating and cooling than a family living in a larger home.

Most contractors will not charge you by the footage, but the cost averages out to about $15 per square foot.

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The role of BTU in air conditioning

The amount of space an air conditioner can cool is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). BTU are used in other things as well, measuring the amount of heat that is necessary to raise or lower one pound of water by one degree.

On average, an air conditioner needs 20 BTU per square foot. However, for an accurate calculation you will need to take into account your ceiling height and other elements of your home.

For example, if the room that you want to cool is very sunny you will need to increase capacity by 10%. If the room is shady, you can lower the capacity needed by 10%.

The BTU necessary can even be affected by how many people use the room. If the room is occupied by two people regularly, you will need to add 600 BTU to accommodate for the additional person.

As you can see, it starts getting a little complicated. An experienced technician will be able to give you an accurate measurement of your home and make an educated recommendation on the size air conditioning unit you need.

Do I need ductwork installation?

One of the benefits of replacing a system, rather than installing a brand new one is it is likely you already have the ductwork necessary for your unit. However, it is possibly you might want to upgrade your pre-existing setup.

You might want to consider upgrading your ductwork in your house if what you have is old and falling apart or has dents and punctures. Additionally, if you are starting to smell a foul smell or are getting poor airflow, adjustments to your ductwork probably need to be made.

Ductwork installation costs

There are a few factors that go into ductwork installation costs. One important one is the size of your home. Typically a 2,500 square foot home needs 150 feet of ductwork. This will cost about $2,000 to install.


Location in your home is also a factor in ductwork cost. If your ductwork is in an attic it will cost less to install than if it is in a basement. Additionally, you may need to consider other construction that could be involved during the installation, such as replacing drywall.


Cost will also vary by the material you choose. Ductwork is available in a few different kinds of metals, fiberglass, and polyester depending on if you need rigid or flexible ductwork. Flexible ductwork tends to be cheaper than rigid ductwork, but it is possible you will need both in your home.

Flexible ductwork

Flexible ductwork is used in tight spaces where the ductwork needs to bend around pre-existing structures like rafters. It is generally made from plastic, which makes it really good for air quality. Fiberglass ducts have the potential to release particles into the air.

Rigid ductwork

Rigid ductwork is the more durable kind of ductwork and is not prone to bends or punctures like plastic ductwork. Rigid ductwork tends to be made of sheet metal or fiberglass. Sheet metals like aluminum or steel are very durable, but are prone to leaks at the joins. Fiberglass, on the other hand is better insulated, but can release dangerous particles in the air over time.

Saving money on your new HVAC system

It’s likely that by now you are looking for ways to save money on your HVAC replacement. There are a few things that a savvy buyer can do to keep costs down.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself. Familiarize yourself with the different HVAC brands and their costs. Take some time to do research and shop around. Many contractors will give you a free estimate so you can compare prices.

The next thing you can do to lower costs is look for rebates. Manufacturers and even the government may offer credits on HVAC unit replacement. One good example is the 26% tax credit for the installation of geothermal heat pumps that extends through 2023.

Manufacturers rebates will vary, but many offer rewards for choosing more expensive services.

Whatever your situation, one of the best ways to save money is to consult a professional technician like the ones at bhild.com. Call us today, or fill out our form here for a free estimate on HVAC services!

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