Is it time to replace your HVAC unit? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, from choosing the right unit to enjoying energy-efficient benefits. You’ll be well-equipped to make informed decisions about A/C installation, HVAC costs, and everything in between.

Before you purchase a new unit, we highly recommend getting multiple opinions on whether your current unit is salvageable. With preventative maintenance and repairs, most HVAC units last 15 to 25 years, but there are big advantages to a new unit. Topping the list is reliability and increased energy efficiency. Let’s run you through everything you need to know!

Step 1: Selecting the Right Unit

The first step in A/C installation is a crucial one– choosing the right unit for your home. Every home is different as most layouts and budgets are not the same. With so many options, it’s important to assess your cooling needs and the size of your space. 

What to Look for in Your Selection:

  1. Size Matters: Proper sizing is crucial for optimal HVAC performance. An oversized unit can lead to short cycling (frequent on-off cycling) and inefficient operation, while an undersized unit won’t adequately cool or heat your space. Work with a professional to perform a load calculation and determine the right size for your home.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Energy-efficient units might have higher upfront costs, but they provide long-term savings on energy bills. Look for units with high SEER ratings for cooling and high AFUE ratings for heating. Additionally, consider models with ENERGY STAR certification, which meet strict energy efficiency guidelines.
  3. Quality and Reputation: Choose reputable brands and models known for durability and reliability. Research customer reviews and seek recommendations from friends, family, or HVAC professionals.
  4. Advanced Features: Consider features that enhance comfort and energy efficiency. Variable-speed motors, zoning capabilities, and smart thermostats can help customize your indoor climate and save energy.
  5. Warranty: Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer and the HVAC company. A solid warranty ensures that you’re covered in case of unexpected issues.
  6. Professional Installation: Even the best HVAC unit won’t perform optimally without proper installation. Choose a licensed and experienced HVAC professional for installation to ensure it’s done correctly.

Step 2: Understanding Pricing and Costs

HVAC costs can vary significantly based on factors like the size of your home, the type of A/C unit, and the complexity of the installation process. It’s recommended to get quotes from multiple reputable HVAC companies to compare prices and services. Remember, while opting for the lowest A/C installation price may seem appealing, quality and reputation should be prioritized to avoid potential issues down the road. Typically, HVAC units with installation cost $12,000 to $20,000 or more with add-ons. This will vary based on your geographic location and unique needs but it’s nice to have a ballpark number in mind when starting the process. 

Factors That Affect HVAC Unit Cost:

HVAC unit cost can vary based on type, size, brand, and features. Prioritize proper sizing and energy efficiency to ensure your investment pays off in comfort and savings. When selecting an HVAC unit, consider the reputation of the brand, advanced features that align with your needs, and the expertise of the installation team. By carefully evaluating these factors, you’ll be well on your way to selecting an HVAC unit that provides optimal performance, comfort, and efficiency for your home.

  1. Type of Unit: HVAC systems come in various types, including central air conditioners, heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and furnaces. Each type has a different price range due to variations in technology and installation requirements.
  2. Size and Capacity: The size of the HVAC unit is directly related to its capacity to cool or heat your space. Larger units tend to cost more, but choosing the right size is essential for efficient operation and comfort.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Units with higher energy efficiency ratings, measured by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for cooling and AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for heating, often have higher upfront costs. However, they can lead to significant long-term savings on energy bills.
  4. Brand and Quality: Well-known and reputable HVAC brands usually come with higher price tags. While opting for a trusted brand can offer reliability and quality, it’s essential to balance brand reputation with your budget.
  5. Features and Technology: Advanced features like variable-speed motors, programmable thermostats, and smart controls can add to the cost but contribute to enhanced comfort and energy savings.
  6. Installation Complexity: The installation process can vary depending on factors such as the existing ductwork, electrical system, and structural considerations. Complex installations may incur additional labor costs.

Step 3: Choosing a Local Company with a Great Reputation

Selecting the right HVAC company for your air conditioning installation is just as important as choosing the right unit. Look for companies with a solid reputation, positive customer reviews, and the necessary certifications and licenses. A trustworthy company will provide transparent pricing, a detailed installation plan, and excellent customer service.

Check if the company offers warranties on their work and the equipment they install. A reputable company stands by its services, ensuring you have peace of mind long after the installation is complete.

Here’s helpful info on the benefits of hiring a local company.

Step 4: Energy-Efficient Priorities

Investing in a high-efficiency A/C unit might involve a slightly higher initial A/C cost, but the long-term benefits are significant. HVAC systems account for 30-40% of your energy bill, while water heaters account for roughly 20% (Shafer offers these as well!). Switching to an energy-efficient HVAC decreases usage costs by up to 40%.

Energy-efficient units consume less electricity, resulting in lower monthly utility bills and a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, many energy-efficient systems qualify for tax incentives and rebates, providing you with potential cost savings and contributing to a greener environment.

According to ACHR News (Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration): the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)  offers a 30% tax credit when you purchase a qualifying HVAC system. This means that 30% of the cost is subtracted from your tax liability with an annual limit up to $600 for qualified HVAC equipment. You can also get a credit of up to $150 for a qualified home energy audit.

Learn more about how the Inflation Reduction Act provides significant savings on new HVAC units.

Step 5: The Installation Process

Once you’ve selected the right unit and HVAC company, it’s time for the installation process to begin. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Site Inspection: HVAC professionals will visit your home to assess the layout, ductwork (if applicable), and electrical systems. This step ensures a proper installation plan is devised.
  2. Preparation: If you’re replacing an existing system, the old unit will be safely removed. If it’s a new installation, the technicians will prepare the designated installation area.
  3. Installation: The new A/C unit will be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and local building codes. This involves connecting the indoor and outdoor units, refrigerant lines, electrical wiring, and ductwork (if necessary).
  4. Testing: Once the installation is complete, the technicians will test the system to ensure it’s operating efficiently and effectively. They’ll also guide you on how to use and maintain the unit.
  5. Finalization: The installation is finalized with any necessary paperwork, warranty information, and a rundown of maintenance recommendations.

Air conditioning installation, though a significant investment, brings immense comfort and energy-efficient benefits to your home. Shafer is honored to be your trusted advisor. It’s something we work to earn every day. If you need a personalized inspection to determine if you can repair your unit or if it’s time to replace it, we’d be glad to help.

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