Buying a replacement heating and cooling system is like buying a car. It's a mechanical system and there are high- and low-quality versions to choose from. There are the brands you know will break down more often and don't last as long, and there are those that run year-after-year without any mechanical problems, assuming you observe the recommended maintenance schedule.
Just as you would weigh quality, fuel efficiency, and personal/household needs when purchasing a new car - the same approach should be applied when purchasing a replacement HVAC system.
You already know the price of replacing a broken HVAC system isn't going to be minimal, but you also want to ensure the price you pay is fair. The only way to do that is to schedule estimates with a few reputable, licensed HVAC contractors in your area.
Focus on Lifetime Costs Versus First-Time Costs
Before we jump into itemized prices, it's important to weigh first-time versus lifetime costs when reading through estimates.
First-time costs reflect the amount you'll pay out of pocket for the system, its accessory components, necessary ductwork, and insulation upgrades (if necessary) and labor charges. Lifetime costs are the costs associated with post-installation maintenance, operational costs (electricity, gas, oil, etc), repair expenses, etc.
If you aren't careful - the money "saved" on the front end by selecting a lesser-quality system or skimping in energy-efficiency potential can cost far more in the long-run. Conversely, spending an extra $1,000 or more may hurt in the immediate moment, but after calculating lifetime costs you'll find the difference is recouped - and then some - in terms of reduced maintenance/repair costs, utility savings, and and the extended life of a higher quality system.
Another thing to keep in mind: according to the folks at Home Advisor, the average cost of a single HVAC repair is $332, and the repair costs of a single visit can easily creep upwards of $500. That means investing more money in a higher-quality brand now will pay for itself over the years because a higher-quality, more efficient system requires far fewer repairs and/or replacement parts.
Average Costs Associated with Replacing a Broken HVAC System
Here is a list of national averages associated with new HVAC system components. All of these prices are approximations and reflect prices for higher-quality, energy-efficient systems with desirable warranties.
- Air Handler - $2,500 - $3,500
- Heat pump - $5,000 to $6,000
- Furnace - $4,000 to $5,000
- Air Conditioning - $3,000 to $4,000
- Duct installation - $1,000 to $4,500
- Thermostat - $200 to $500
These are the HVAC "basics." You may find your HVAC technician recommends additional features or system upgrades that will add more to these costs. If the company has a reputation for honesty and integrity, do not feel they're trying to "upsell" you. Rather, they're making industry-advised recommendations to improve the overall performance, efficiency and lifetime of your system.
HVAC Systems Are Enhanced by Standard Upgrades
The following are some of the upgrades that may be recommended to you as you shop for your new HVAC system:
Upgraded duct work
Once of the costs we included above is the cost for new ductwork and repairs to existing ductwork. Until the mid- to later 1990s, ductwork wasn't designed for efficiency. Rather, it was installed haphazardly in the most convenient (aka "easy-to-install") locations. As fossil fuel prices went up, and society became increasingly focused on energy efficiency, duct design processes were overhauled.
Now, most HVAC contractors use Manual D, which provides very specific guidelines regarding the most efficient ductwork and design/layout, based on information particular to your home. Efficient ductwork design reduces energy spending as well as the lifetime of your system.
As with ductwork, outdated or compromised insulation also effects energy efficiency and lifetime wear-and-tear costs for an HVAC system. If you live in an older home, odds are an insulation upgrade will serve you well on multiple levels - including whole-home comfort and efficiency.
Average costs for insulation upgrades range from $1,300 to $2,500, depending on your materials preference.
If you live in a multi-level home, have unique architectural features (vaulted ceiling, a wall of windows, a sunroom), battle the war of the thermostat because everyone likes their rooms at different temperatures - you should be considering a zoned HVAC system.
This extra expense means rooms will be heated as needed - rather than all the time - which improves energy efficiency and whole-home comfort.
The average cost for a basic zoned heating system (starting at 2-zones) is usually about $2,500 to $3,500.
Whole-home filtration and/or (de)humidfying options
Air filtration and humidity monitoring are essential for whole-home comfort as well as indoor air quality. Using a combination of both means a home that remains hypoallergenic and mold/mildew-free all year round. Just like humid days make outdoor temps seem hotter, a humid (or dry) home will make your HVAC system work harder to maintain your ideal thermostat setting. That translates to extra utility spending, increased system wear-and-tear and more frequent repair/replacement needs.
The average cost for a whole-home filtration system is usually about $1,500 to $2,500 and (de) humidification prices vary according to need.
Get an HVAC Estimate in Richmond, VA
If you have an old heating and cooling system that is on it’s last leg, start getting estimates now. This will give you time to get a few estimates, review those estimates, and make an informed decision on your own time, instead of having to rush to replace a broken down system on the hottest day of summer or during a cold spell in winter.
Contact Howell's Heating & Air to schedule your competitive estimate for an replacing an outdated Richmond HVAC system today!