How Much Does A New Residential HVAC System Cost

Figuring out New Residential HVAC System Cost

Begin by Understanding the Basic Price Range:

The first question we always get from clients needing a new system is “How Much?”  The answer is “It depends.”

The base cost for replacing the HVAC system (or adding to existing) is much more complex.  Some of this is due to you, the buyer, wanting specific custom features that meet your unique needs for comfort.  Some of this is due to the unique design of your home where actually installing a new unit can range from simple to highly complex, depending on ease of access, property boundary lines, municipality inspection requirements, etc.  Your system will be a one-of-a-kind installation.

Using an analogy of buying a car, all HVAC contractors have a base price for a new system, much like a MSRP (manufacturer’s recommended retail price) sticker (since we do not sell used systems, a Kelley Blue Book sticker does not apply).  However, a car’s sticker price is for a fully manufactured vehicle, where all crucial decisions on its features have already been made.  The car comes 100% complete and you drive it off the lot.

There are four major types of HVAC installations:

Gas Furnaces:

  • This can include propane for those with no access to a PSE (Puget Sound Energy) line.
  • A basic 80% change-out with new 4” filter and thermostat are about $6,000 plus tax. See below for other factors, a gas furnace system can be about $12,000 plus tax.
  • A basic 90% change-out with similar applications run from $7,000 to $15,000 plus tax.
  • If we replace it in kind there will be minimal gas piping, and extra costs for piping if a new application.
  • Venting can also be an issue if going from 80% efficiency to 90% efficiency, or the existing venting is in disrepair.
  • A review of your supply and return air ductwork is necessary, repairs can affect the price.
  • 90% efficiency gas furnaces need condensate systems, piping that may or may not need a pump.
  • Air quality choices can increase price if electronic filtration, air scrubbing, humidification, or heat recovery is desired.
  • Single stage or variable stage heating and air flow systems can add costs.
  • Expanding the parts and labor warranty up to 10 years, while prepaying annual maintenance will add up front costs but lower costs over unit life.
  • Electrical needs are usually minimal unless air quality equipment is chosen.

Adding Air Conditioning (or Heat Pump) to a Gas Furnace:

  • See above if the gas furnace needs to be replaced. We do not like to use any gas (or propane) furnace over 10 years old, and this can quickly become a point of weakness.
  • Typically, adding a basic 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy efficiency Ratio) 3-Ton air conditioner for an 1800 sf home to an existing gas furnace will start at $14,000 plus tax. A system on a large home with high efficiency and quality features can cost up to $30,000 plus tax.
  • As mentioned in Gas Furnaces it also applies to supply and return air ductwork, condensate systems, air quality, warranty & prepaid maintenance, and venting (indoor coils require new venting access).
  • The size of the home and efficiency (which also affects sound levels) desired are a huge factor in equipment costs.
  • Outdoor unit location can be an issue based on municipality and boundary lines. Adding the indoor coil can be an issue if there are space limitations surrounding the furnace.
  • Adding a heat pump instead of an air conditioner to a gas furnace adds costs, but frequently pays for itself in winter energy savings (especially with propane applications).
  • Electrical is a larger factor since a new sub-panel is needed, the above price includes basic electricity from a main panel nearby. This is not always the case.

Central Heat Pump with Air Handler:

  • This can be a like-to-like heat pump replacement, but it has become common for people to completely remove gas furnaces and replace it with an air handler and heat pump.
  • Typically, replacing a basic 14 SEER 3-Ton heat pump and air handler for an 1800 sf home will start at $15,000 plus tax. A high efficiency system on a large home with high efficiency and quality features can cost up to $30,000 plus tax.
  • As mentioned in Gas Furnaces it also applies to supply and return air ductwork, condensate systems, air quality, warranty & prepaid maintenance.
  • As mentioned in Adding Air Conditioning, it also applies to the size of the home, system efficiency, electrical requirements, and outdoor unit location.
  • If you are replacing a gas furnace there will be extra electrical costs as an air handler needs higher voltage and amperage.

Ductless Heat Pump:

  • This is a newer technology, rarely are we replacing existing. In some applications we are adding an existing central heating system with a one or two zone ductless system.  In some applications we are replacing electric resistance heaters in the entire home.
  • Typically, a 12 KW single-zone ductless system will start at $9,000 plus tax. A multi-head ductless system serving the entire home can cost from $18,000 to $60,000 plus tax for a large home.
  • Many factors affect the price here. Outdoor unit and indoor head locations.  Condensate drainage on all the indoor heads (exterior walls are gravity drains, interior need condensate pumps).  There are many system choices, and extended warranty and prepaid maintenance are offered here.
  • Electrical only goes to the outdoor unit, the line-sets that feed the indoor heads have line voltage for the blowers, refrigerant for heat transfer and control wiring.

Determining an Exact Price (with options of course):

An Energy Consultant will come to your home and begin by asking questions about which type of system is desired, efficiency requirements, indoor air quality desires, present issues with heating and cooling the home.  This will be followed by a home heat loss/gain calculation, investigation of ductwork, and present indoor and/or outdoor unit locations.

Remember that there are Factors beyond Price:

The final factor is the one least appreciated by most buyers, yet most critical when it comes to peace of mind, it is the trustworthiness of the personnel to install the system ensuring that no shortcuts are taken, and the trustworthiness of company ownership that if there are issues post-install that there is a safety net to protect your investment.  It is worth noting that, unlike buying a new car where the manufacturer will ensure warranty even if the dealer does not, no HVAC manufacturer (or even wholesaler) will protect the new HVAC unit end user.  100% of that responsibility is on the trustworthiness of the installing contractor; if they are dishonorable, sell out to a new buyer, or go out of business, your investment is in jeopardy.

Simply said, there is no economic incentive for another HVAC contractor to help you out if they did not install your unit.  Evergreen is regularly contacted to repair competitors’ recent installations under warranty, and we must tell the customer they will be fully charged for any and all work performed.

Setting a Budget is Key to this Process:

Our advice is to establish a budget that is comfortable for you.  The above price ranges should be a help in this.  Then shop websites, get referrals from friends, and check company reviews.  Interview a few companies, first over the phone and then with an Energy Consultant coming to your home.

We wish you the best with your new HVAC system planning.  We also have information on what to expect with the sales and installation process once you are ready to take the next steps.  Please feel free to reach out, our Customer Service Representatives are more than willing to answer your questions.