In many parts of the U.S. central air conditioners are a necessity in the warmer months. Luckily, if your system isn’t working as well as it used to, suffers frequent breakdowns on the hottest summer days, or you’re just tired of ‘getting by’ with window units, today’s central air conditioning units offer performance and features that far surpass earlier models. However, each facet comes with a cost.
How Much is a New Central Air Conditioning Unit?
The size of your home will largely determine the cost of a central air conditioning unit. Central air conditioning systems are measured in tons, which is a measure of how much heat they can remove from a home in an hour. As a very general rule, you need approximately 1-ton of cooling per 500-600 square feet. However, tonnage cannot be calculated on square footage alone. The efficiency of your chosen unit, how well your home is insulated, and the thermal nature of your home (conditioned basement spaces versus upper-level rooms) will also play a part. On average, the cost of a new system for an average home is around $2,000-4,000 for the unit, plus installation costs, which vary greatly depending on the condition of your ducts.
Mechanicals are Only Part of Central Air Conditioner Cost
Ductwork can effect system performance as much as upgrading your central air conditioning system. The average home experiences duct leakage and cooling loss of 10-30% before conditioned air even reaches the living area. Ask your contractor about the condition of your current equipment to ensure an accurate quote. They can run a duct leakage test, identifying issues in advance. Repairs and corrections may be necessary to safeguard your new system against unnecessary strain.
Home Never Had Central AC?
If you don’t have ductwork, there will be additional costs to have ductwork installed, including the ducts themselves, as well as additional breakers in your electrical panel, wiring through the foundation, and the addition of a concrete pad and metal mounting brackets for your new system.
Is a Higher SEER Rating Worth the Cost?
Air conditioner efficiency is measured in SEER. The minimum SEER rating required by law today is 14-15 SEER, depending on your cooling region. Should you invest in a new central air conditioning unit with a higher SEER rating? If your summer (or warm weather) season isn't particularly long, the increased price may not be worth it. In climates that are predominantly warm, however, that investment can pay for itself quite quickly. Many higher-SEER, Energy Star-rated systems come with local tax and utility incentives as well, which can help offset costs. If you’re not sure if a higher SEER system is right for you, talk to your trusted installer about running the numbers for your home/system.
How Much Will I Save?
Replacing a system just 10 years old with a newer, 14 SEER system, could cut your cooling expenses, by 30% (more for older systems). Upgrade to a 16 SEER system, and you could reduce cooling expenses up to 60%. As the largest consumer of energy in your home in the summer months – that’s not small potatoes.
Know what you need before you buy and install a central air unit in your home. Contact the experts at Aire Serv® today.