It's no secret that central air conditioning is the star of all cooling systems, designed to cool entire homes by distributing air throughout every room. Especially in areas where temperatures and humidity levels skyrocket during the summer, a central air system provides the consistent, all-over cooling that the weather requires.
What's the price of turning your home into a well-cooled paradise? Here's what to expect when calculating your central air installation cost:
The average costs
The total cost to install a central air system ranges from $2,650 to as high as $15,000, with the national average landing at $7,200, according to Fixr. The reason for such a wide range is that some homes have existing ductwork that can support the central air system, while homes without it will require more extensive labor to install the system.
Direct Energy broke down the average installation cost by ductwork considerations:
- Existing ductwork: $3,000 to $7,000.
- Ductwork that needs repairs: Add $1,000 to $3,000 to the final bill.
- No ductwork: $7,000 to $15,000.
Along with the price of the air conditioning unit itself, these average total installation costs are the sum of contractor, subcontractor, labor and material fees.
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The cost factors to consider
While ductwork often accounts for the steepest cost variations, there are other factors that will affect your final bill. These include:
- The pre-installation evaluation: This step is important for proper installation, as it includes a professional home energy audit and load calculation to determine your home's cooling needs. These evaluations can cost several hundred dollars, although you may qualify for discounts or rebates through your utility company, according to NerdWallet.
- Labor costs: HVAC contractor rates vary by level of experience, location and time of year. What's more, the size of the unit and the amount of additional work needed to install the central air system can affect how much the laborers will charge.
- Unit efficiency: Purchasing an energy-efficient central air unit can be more expensive upfront, but the long-term savings are usually worth the initial investment.
The ways to save
One of the best ways to avoid steep labor costs is to time your installation smartly. NerdWallet suggested scheduling your installation during spring and fall because HVAC professionals will often charge less and have greater availability during the off-season.
While central air is great when it comes to cooling power, you do have to pay the price for such a hefty system. Before you shovel out the money, consider your cooling needs. Some climates and households only need window units or ductless mini-split air conditioning systems, which are much cheaper to install than central air.
It also pays to get multiple estimates from different licensed contractors. Remodeling Calculator advised getting three to four quotes to see a 15% to 25% difference in the fees.
In the long term, you can rack up savings by maintaining your unit and running it as efficiently as possible. Here are some guides to help you treat your central air conditioning like the star it is:
Being prepared for air conditioner and HVAC system repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.