We’re still in the height of summer, but soon the temperatures will cool, and it will be time to evaluate how your air conditioning system performed. No homeowner wants to replace their AC system when the temperatures are still high, but many people may have noticed that their cooling system didn’t perform as expected. A well maintained AC system will typically perform more reliably and have better energy efficiency. When people begin to look at replacing their AC system, they will quickly notice that the price can vary a great deal, let’s take a look at the reasons for this disparity in costs.

The Importance of Understanding Replacement Costs

If you’re thinking about replacing your air conditioning system for the next cooling season, it’s important to understand how the costs work. If you don’t understand how the costing variables work, it’s virtually impossible to budget for the expenses. Another key factor to consider is how you may benefit from investing in an energy efficient system that will cost more initially, but it will more than pay for itself over time with lower energy bills. Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that determine the cost of a new air conditioning system.

The Type of Cooling System

Most North Americans homes have some kind of ducted central air conditioning system. Within this broad classification, there are a number of different types of cooling system and a wide range of price points. The type of cooling system installed will have been determined by the local climate, the available budget, and the size of the home.

In warmer areas, some homeowners opt for a heat pump. This is an attractive option because it will offer cooling at a fraction of the operating costs when compared to a central air conditioning system. But, the high initial costs of a heat pump is a deterrent to others, and a typical heat pump installation could cost thousands of dollars more than compared to a central AC system.

A ductless mini split AC system could be more or less expensive than a central ducted air conditioning system depending on the number of cooling units needed. A single unit can cool an individual room or space, and this makes it an ideal choice for multi-unit buildings and home additions alike. But, it would take a number of units to cool down an entire home, and in this case, it’s likely that a central AC system would be a far more economical choice. This is often the case even if an entirely new series of ductwork needs to be installed to deliver the treated air.

Evaporative cooling is typically less expensive to install than a standard AC system. This type of cooler is sometimes referred to as a “swamp cooler” and cools a home by passing circulated air over a series of soaked pads. An evaporative cooler only works well in a drier climate, and it would be rare to see one in use outside of the west.

The AC System Size 

Every air conditioning system should be professionally sized to fit the home. Installing an oversized or undersized unit will lead to a number of problems. An oversized AC system will cool down the home too quickly before it can be dehumidified leading to damp and clammy indoor air and an increased chance of damp and mold growth. Undersized AC systems will need to work hard constantly, and they will not be able to cool the home effectively leading to a loss of indoor comfort and very high energy bills. The larger the air conditioner, the more expensive it will be to purchase and install in your home. When it comes time to replace your AC system, always consult a professional first. They will carry out a load calculation to work out the size of system that you need to provide effective and energy efficient cooling throughout your home.

The Ductwork

If your home already has ductwork, returns, and vents to distribute the treated air, the installation or replacement of an AC system may be pretty straightforward. But, some homes lack the required ductwork, and installing this can add a significant amount to the installation costs. The costs are calculated on the unique challenges of your home and the spaces where you need to have cooling. Even a simple ductwork installation job involves a lot of labor, and this will bump up the costs. In some homes, the existing ductwork may be in bad shape, sometimes this can be repaired and in other cases it may be cheaper to simply replace the ducts instead.

The SEER Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER rating is a useful way to quickly compare the energy efficiency of different AC systems that you may be interested in. A higher SEER rating means that the air conditioning system is more efficient, and this will command a higher price. Over time an AC system will lose efficiency, and manufacturers are always looking at ways that they can improve this. If you have the money, it’s always worth investing in a system that has the highest SEER rating that you can comfortably afford. This will pay off over time with lower energy bills.

Adding Supplemental Systems

A modern HVAC system can do much more than provide home cooling in summer and some warm air in winter. There are supplemental air filtration systems that can remove particulates from the air that can exacerbate asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. If you live in an area with an excessively damp or dry climate, you could add a dehumidifier or humidifier to make your home more comfortable. Adding these types of supplemental systems will increase the initial purchasing and installation costs, but installing them together will often cost less than installing them separately later.

Choose High Quality Workmanship

Like any industry, there are good and bad HVAC companies, and the quality of work will vary a great deal. For this reason, it’s crucial to choose a licensed HVAC company that has a good reputation and adequate levels of insurance cover. This will cost more, but the quality of the work will be better and guaranteed. A poorly installed AC system may be less effective at home cooling, and it could even be damaged during the installation process.