How Much Does a New HVAC System Cost?

HVAC unit install in Burbank, CA

An HVAC system is one of the most significant expenditures associated with owning a home, regardless of whether you’re installing one in a new construction or replacing an existing one. As you plan for your new system, it’s helpful to know how much you should expect to spend on installing the system. Unfortunately, HVAC systems have a variety of variables that influence the final price. Consider these factors that will affect how much you’ll pay for a new HVAC system.

New Construction Versus Replacement

The first thing to consider is whether you’re installing a system in a new construction or replacing an existing system. With new construction, you may also have to install ductwork for a central heating and cooling system. You may not need to replace the ducting every time you install a new part of your system, significantly reducing the overall costs.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average range to replace an existing HVAC system is $5,000 to $10,000. For new construction homes, you’ll add the cost of duct installation, which can range from about $4,000 to as much as $12,000 depending on the size of your home and the kind of system you’re installing.

HVAC System Type

Next, the kind of system you install is a significant contributing factor to how much your HVAC system will cost. Generally speaking, when discussing a home’s HVAC system, we’re referring to the heating and cooling system. The most common heating system is a gas furnace and an air conditioner for cooling.

However, Southern California is a great place to ditch the customary gas furnace for heat and switch to either an air-source or geothermal heat pump. This combines both your heating and cooling into a single unit and provides highly efficient heating when the temperatures get a little cool. Air-source heat pumps have an average range of $4,000 to $7,500. Geothermal is more expensive but also more dependable because it doesn’t fluctuate with the outside temperature. The average costs range from $18,000 to $30,000 for ground-source geothermal systems.

The other option many people in the Southern California area opt for is the ductless mini-split system. This is tied to an exterior air-source heat pump and has refrigerant lines that run to multiple air handlers throughout your home. This separates your home into zones by the system’s design, improving your home’s comfort and HVAC efficiency. These systems typically run between $3,000 to over $10,000.

HVAC System Size

The size of the system you need will also play a significant role in the total cost. The lower the heating and cooling capacity, the less expensive the base unit will cost. However, be careful not to undersize your unit, which can drive up your utility expenses and cause premature wear and failure. Work with a qualified installer to calculate the proper size system for your home.

System Efficiency

Everyone wants to have an efficient system that costs less to run. However, the tradeoff is that higher-efficiency technology costs more than standard equipment. For air conditioners and heat pumps, you’ll look at the SEER rating for cooling efficiency, where 17 SEER2 and above are considered high-efficiency systems. For heating, you’ll look at the HSPF rating for heat pumps and AFUE for furnaces. HSPF of 8.2 and higher and AFUE above 90% are considered high efficiency.

Do You Need Ductwork?

Ductwork has an expected life of 20-25 years maximum. If you live in an older home, you may need to install new ducts if yours are in poor condition. The national average for this replacement runs between $1,900 and $6,000, which assumes 300 linear feet of ductwork. Larger homes will cost more to replace and require more vents and returns.

System Model and Brand

Like many things in your home, you get what you pay for with HVAC equipment. There’s something to be said for purchasing a well-known brand for your HVAC equipment, like Lennox. Even within a particular brand, you’ll find a range of models available. As you consider which model you’ll install, be careful not to simply look for the lowest-cost option. These may not have the same quality internal components and may leave you with a shorter warranty than higher-quality systems.

Are You Installing Zoning?

As previously mentioned, you’ll already have a zoned system if you’re installing a ductless mini-split system. However, you can also have a zoned system if you have a central duct system, which uses dampers in the ducts to direct conditioned air to the areas that need it. This costs more due to the extra equipment, including the dampers, their controllers, and the extra thermostats in your home. Zoned ducted systems tend to start around $15,000 and go up from there, depending on how many zones you need.

HVAC Add-Ons

All the prices we’ve covered so far only include the heating and cooling components of HVAC. However, there are a whole host of add-ons you may want to consider to help improve the comfort of your home and reduce how much energy your HVAC system consumes.

Common add-ons are various indoor air quality components, which can include UV light purifiers, scrubbers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers. Depending on the options you choose, it may increase your cost anywhere from $500 to over $4,000.

Another add-on many people appreciate is the energy recovery ventilator, or ERV. This helps with the exchange of fresh air and stagnant indoor air and helps reduce the cost of heating and cooling. These specialty ventilators contain a heat exchanger that transfers heat to the incoming air in the winter and to the outgoing air in the summer.

When You Install

The season you install your new HVAC system also plays a major role in how much it costs. The busy seasons for HVAC companies are consistently the middle of the winter and the middle of the summer. This is when you’re less likely to find deals on your system components. However, if you can plan your HVAC installation for the spring or fall, you’re more likely to find rebates and other incentives from installers and manufacturers.

Federal Incentives

Finally, the costs listed above do not take into account the various incentives for installing high-efficiency and electric heating and cooling systems. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included several programs to help reduce the cost of installing high-efficiency systems. These programs include both rebates that are managed by the states and tax credits to help reduce your end-of-year federal tax liability. Check with your tax professional to discuss which programs you may qualify for and how to capitalize on them.

Homeowners in the Burbank area have turned to Air Max HVAC for more than 20 years to keep their homes comfortable throughout the year. Our team offers heating and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance with home energy audits and indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our installation experts to find the right HVAC solution for your home.