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How Much Does an HVAC System Cost?

Author: Brian Eckert

Heating, Ventilation and Cooling Prices

HVAC—short for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning—refers to equipment that is used to regulate the temperature, humidity and air quality of a residential or commercial building. In this guide you’ll learn more about the components of a home HVAC system in addition to how much it costs to install one.

Parts of an HVAC System

In new construction, an HVAC system almost always refers to central air conditioning and heating units (furnaces), the ductwork that delivers the cooled and heated air, and the intake and outtake vents. Generally speaking, however, home HVAC systems may include any interior climate control installations, including things like baseboard heaters and ceiling fans.

This buying guide, however, will focus on the main HVAC system components. They include the following:

  • Furnace: The heat in an HVAC system is typically supplied by a natural gas or oil fired furnace housed inside a designated closet space, basement, or attic. Contained within the furnace unit is a heat exchanger, the device responsible for the actual warming of the air.
  • Air Conditioner: The air conditioning unit, unlike the furnace, is placed outside of the home and powered by electricity. It uses a compressor and coolant to remove the heat from air, and the hot air is discharged outside.
  • Ductwork: Ventilation ductwork is responsible for moving heated and cooled air evenly throughout the interior of the home.
  • Thermostat: Thermostats are the “brain” of an HVAC system, as they are responsible for turning it on and off. They can be operated manually or set to a predetermined temperature that the system then maintains.

HVAC System Average Costs

Estimating the cost of heating and cooling systems is difficult due to the large number of factors that come into play. There is not only the size of the home to consider, but the size, quality, and energy efficiency of the equipment to be installed in addition to upgrades such as multiple thermostats, programmable thermostats, and electronic air cleaners. Further, it is crucial to keep in mind that the majority of HVAC system cost comes not from the equipment itself, but from installation charges. Thus, if your home presents installation challenges (i.e. an unusual layout or difficult to access areas), you can expect to pay more than a homeowner who buys a comparable system but whose home doesn’t pose such problems.

  • For a 1,000 square foot home, the cost of an HVAC system is $6,000 to $12,000, including a new furnace, air conditioning unit, and ductwork. For larger homes and more complex setups, however, the price could be significantly higher.
  • For central air-conditioning, you’ll pay $3,000 to $5,000 and up for a 2,000 square foot home.
  • A new furnace in a central heating system costs $2,500 to $7,500 or more.
  • If you don’t need ductwork, the cost of a new heating and cooling system can be significantly decreased. In cases where new HVAC duct is required, however, you might pay $1,000 to $3,000.

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