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How Much Does It Cost To Put In Central Air
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Oh, the coolness of air conditioning on a hot summer day. But if your current air conditioner can’t cool your home and you’re ready to invest in a new system, then it’s time to do your air conditioning homework.
Central air installation costs an average of $5,861; A common range is $3,882 for smaller systems to $7,905 for larger systems or upgrades, according to HomeAdvisor. However, many factors greatly affect the price, including the type of unit you are buying, the size and energy efficiency, and the layout/structure of your home. Take the time to learn about cooling: the cost of installing central air conditioning, what installation is like, why air conditioning is so expensive—and how to keep costs down.
If you choose a central ventilation system, many factors determine the total cost. In particular, the size of your unit is an important factor.
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By “size,” AC industry experts don’t mean the physical dimensions of an air conditioner, but rather its wattage—that is, its cooling capacity. This capacity is commonly referred to as BTU, which stands for British Heating Units. A BTU is a measure of the amount of energy required to lower the temperature of a pound of water by one degree. 12,000 BTU per ton is referred to as part of this measurement system. For example, a 2.5 ton air conditioner is equivalent to 30,000 BTUs.
Basically, for every 500 or 600 square feet of space in your home, you’ll need about a ton of cooling. Older homes with outdated frames may not be equipped to support modern systems, so you may need extensive repairs or even pipe replacements costing $10,000 or more.
Many factors can affect the final cost you pay for a central air conditioner installation, including square footage, unit efficiency, scope of work, associated ductwork, and labor costs. Here are some installation costs to consider.
Every 500 to 600 feet typically requires 1 ton of cooling energy. Let’s say you need an 1,800 square foot home cooler. This means you will likely need a three ton or 36,000 BTU per hour AC system. Each HomeAdvisor can cost between $3,400 and $5,400.
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Air conditioners are also classified and selected based on SEER, which is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. You calculate SEER by estimating the cold output in winter divided by the electric charge. A higher SEER rating means a more efficient system. The minimum SEER rating for 2023 will be 14 in the northern United States and 15 in the southern United States.
Ducts and vents provide a cooling air flow system. Bailey Carson, Angie’s real estate expert, says older homes may not have plumbing, so depending on the type of air conditioning system you want installed, you may need to factor that into your costs.
“There are ductless HVAC systems that tend to be more efficient and more expensive than the alternatives, and they’re a good choice if your walls are too thin for ductwork,” Carson said.
Ductless units are usually wall mounted and you will need several to keep your house cool. The tube unit comes in two profiles: a larger traditional tube system and a small high speed tube system (SDHV) that uses a smaller, more flexible tube than standard tubes.
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“The age and walls of your home will determine which system you use,” says David Steckel, a home expert at Thumbtack. “Central air conditioning became popular in the 1970s, so if your home hasn’t been remodeled since then, chances are you’ll need to use an SDHV system. If your home is newer, you may already see a drainage system in your basement.
A central ventilation system requires the installation of fans, which means that labor costs will be a significant part of the total cost. Carson says the average cost of labor and installation of a central air conditioning system can vary greatly depending on the size, shape and orientation of your home, as well as the contractor.
Another factor that affects labor costs is the energy efficiency or SEER rating of your unit. Air conditioners with high SEER ratings are usually more expensive to install. However, they can save you money in the long run with low energy bills.
In general, all home air conditioners are divided into two types: individual units and central systems. The most common types and their installation prices through HomeAdvisor include:
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To reduce the cost of installing central air conditioning, shop around to find out which service provider and system fits your home and budget. Many companies can make air conditioning systems in the size you need, but prices vary widely. HomeAdvisor found Payne to be the least expensive mid-air maker based on an average price of $1,400, but Aire-Flo, Coleman, Comfortmaker, Tempstar and Whirlpool are priced under $2,000.
You can now claim 30% of your project costs up to $600 for a central air conditioning system installed by December 31, 2032 (details here). You can also research the availability of state and local credits for energy efficient units. Some utilities and manufacturers also offer discounts, especially if you install next month.
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