2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (2023)

Table of Contents
Central Air Conditioner Prices by Type Split AC Cost Packaged AC Cost HVAC Package Unit Prices Central AC Prices by Efficiency 13 SEER AC Unit Cost 14 SEER AC Unit Cost 15 SEER AC Unit Cost 16 SEER AC Unit Cost 17 SEER AC Unit Cost 18 SEER AC Unit Costs 19 SEER AC Unit Costs 20 SEER AC Unit Costs 21 SEER AC Unit Costs 22 to 24 SEER AC Unit Costs Central AC Prices by Brand Heil Central Air Conditioner Cost Rheem Central Air Conditioner Prices Lennox Central Air Cost Trane Central Air Conditioner Prices American Standard Central Air Conditioner Prices Goodman Central Air Conditioner Prices Amana Central Air Conditioner Prices Bryant Central Air Conditioner Prices Carrier Central Air Conditioner Prices York Central Air Conditioner Prices Average Cost to Install Central Air Cost to Install Central Air With No Existing Ductwork Cost to Add Air Conditioning to an Existing Furnace Cost to Install Central Air by Location Central Air for Mobile Home Prices Cost to Install Central Air in an Old House Condo Central Air Conditioning Central Air Conditioning for Apartments Cost Central Air Size and Manual J Calculation Average AC Unit Costs by Size or Capacity Cost of a 2-Ton AC Unit Installed Cost of a 3-Ton AC Unit Installed Cost of a 4-Ton AC Unit Installed Cost of a 5-Ton AC Unit Installed Central Air Conditioner Size by Climate Zone Cost to Run Central Air Central Air Replacement Cost Cost to Replace Freon in Central AC Cost of Replacing a Furnace and Central Air Adding Central Air to Forced Air Heat Ductless vs Central Air Central Air vs Window Unit Enhancement and Improvement Costs Energy Audit Ductwork Old AC Removal Additional Considerations and Costs FAQs​​ References FAQs Videos

The cost of installing central air conditioning has a wide cost range. Depending on the system size, efficiency, and whether you also need ducts installed, new central air systems cost between $2.50 and $6 a square foot. These costs are for most homes, but you can have higher costs if you live in a very hot climate. Because extremely hot climates require higher-than-average efficiency, upfront unit costs tend to be higher. This is not necessarily the case in standard hot climates of zone 2 or above. Zone 1 installations may have higher costs, depending on your insulation levels.

Costs will be on the lower end if you already have ducts installed in your home and are only adding a central air unit. Costs will be on the higher end if you need ducts added or need additional or upgraded ducts in an existing system.

Below are the average costs for installations in varying home sizes.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (1)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (2)

Home SizeAverage Costs (Installed)
800 sq.ft.$2,000 - $4,800
1,000 sq.ft.$2,500 - $6,000
1,500 sq.ft.$3,750 - $9,000
2,000 sq.ft.$5,000 - $12,000
2,500 sq.ft.$6,250 - $15,000
3,000 sq.ft.$7,500 - $18,000

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Central Air Conditioner Prices by Type

Central air conditioners cool your entire home from one unit. They run through a series of ducts that vent into the rooms of your home. There are two types to consider: split and packaged systems.

Split systems are the most common. They have a condensing unit, which usually sits outside, and an evaporative coil unit, which may be installed indoors. The two are connected via a copper tube that carries the refrigerant between them.

The other system is a packaged system with both the condensing unit and evaporative coil in one unit. Both types can effectively cool your home, but they have different costs and installations to consider.

In addition to these types, it is also possible to package your furnace and AC together. While not recommended for most homes, this can be a space saver for small residences.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (3)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (4)

AC Unit TypeAverage Cost (Unit Only)
Split System$2,500 - $7,500
Packaged AC System$3,000 - $8,000
Packaged HVAC$8,000 - $9,000

Split AC Cost

The cost of a split system AC is between $2,500 and $7,500. If you already have a furnace and ducts in your home and simply want to add air conditioning, a split system is the most economical way to do so. This has two components: an outside condensing unit and an evaporator and fan, which sit on top of your furnace and use its air handler1 and ducts. This type of unit has a silent performance, as the evaporator and fan are outside the room, most of the noise is removed.

If your furnace is fairly new and your ducts are less than 15 years old, this is a good way to install AC and save money. If you do not already have a furnace and ducts or need a new furnace and replacement ducts, you can opt for an all-in-one package to cut down on installation costs and additional parts.

Packaged AC Cost

The cost of a packaged AC unit averages $3,000 to $8,000. This is a much less common central air unit. It is a good option if you already have a furnace and are just adding air conditioning but do not have much space. Instead of having two pieces connected by a tube, this is one unit that sits outside. It also uses ducts like a split system, but it takes up less space. This system requires more maintenance than a split system because it is completely outside. If one component breaks, the entire unit is more difficult to repair and often needs replacement.

HVAC Package Unit Prices

The cost of an HVAC packaged unit ranges from $8,000 to $9,000. These units package a furnace and air conditioner in one unit. If you have no furnace or your furnace is older and needs replacing, consider using a packaged system that incorporates all the components of the HVAC system into one outdoor unit. These use ducts but have some of the easiest installation because it is one unit.

Central AC Prices by Efficiency

The efficiency of your unit or how much of the energy it converts to heating or cooling your home impacts costs, with more-efficient units having higher prices than less-efficient units. Each unit is labeled with a SEER2 rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the SEER rating, the lower the energy costs, but the higher the initial cost. The SEER recommended for your home is dictated not only by your energy needs but also by your climate. A standard SEER may be sufficient in cooler climates where you only need AC a few times a summer. In hot climates, however, you may need a very high SEER to help keep your energy costs down with the extra use.

Below are the average costs for units of varying efficiency amounts.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (5)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (6)

SEEREfficiencyAverage Cost (Unit Only)
13 - 14Standard$1,500 - $3,000
15 -16High$2,000 - $4,000
17 - 18High$2,500 - $5,000
19 - 21Super High$3,000 - $6,000
22 - 24Highest$5,000 - $7,000

13 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 13 SEER AC unit averages $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the tonnage and unit type. 13 is the lowest SEER rating available. This unit is not recommended for hot climates. If you only plan on using the air conditioning on the hottest days of the year and you live in a cooler climate, this can be a good option. It is less expensive than more efficient units, and when not used frequently, the low upfront costs can offset the higher energy costs.

14 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 14 SEER AC unit ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the brand, tonnage, and unit type. 14 is generally one of the most used and standard SEER ratings for AC units. This unit provides more efficient usage in cooler and moderate climates than a 13 SEER. It is not recommended for hotter climates, however. If you live in a moderate climate and use your AC frequently, this may have too low a SEER rating, resulting in higher energy costs. For those using the unit periodically, it can be a good compromise between upfront and ongoing energy costs.

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15 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 15 SEER AC unit costs between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the size and brand. 15 SEER is considered the lowest type of energy-efficient unit. For those who live in a moderate climate and use the system all summer, this can be a good choice. It provides slightly lower energy costs, while still not costing as much in upfront costs as more efficient units. This makes it a good compromise for those who do not want to spend a lot upfront or over time. This unit is still not recommended for hot climates, however.

16 SEER AC Unit Cost

Costs for a 16 SEER AC unit range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the size and type. This is one of the more recommended SEER ratings for homeowners who want a more efficient unit but do not want to pay too much upfront. If you live in a warmer climate, this can be a good option. It is also a good option for those in moderate climates who are concerned about energy usage. For hot climates, it will likely produce higher energy bills than most homeowners want, however. At this point, efficiency and upfront costs are fairly well-balanced in moderate to slightly warmer climates.

17 SEER AC Unit Cost

Costs for a 17 SEER AC unit average $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the type and size. A 17 SEER AC unit is considered high-efficiency and a good unit for those living in slightly warmer than average climates. This can also be a good choice for those in moderate climates with higher-than-average air conditioning needs. At this SEER, expect lower energy costs. When replacing an AC unit, upgrading to SEER 17 will likely result in a drop in energy bills. This is most seen in slightly warmer or moderate climates.

18 SEER AC Unit Costs

18 SEER AC units cost between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on the unit type and size. 18 SEER units are considered high-efficiency and good for climates that are slightly warmer than average. They also work well in moderate climates for households with higher-than-average air conditioning needs. Larger homes or homes with many occupants also benefit from this SEER rating. If you have an older unit, you will likely see a drop in your energy costs if you upgrade to a SEER level of 18. At this level, energy costs may still be too high for some in very hot climates, but the lower purchase costs make it a good choice for second homes.

19 SEER AC Unit Costs

Costs for a 19 SEER AC unit range from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the size. A unit with a rating of 19 is considered very high-efficiency and is typically recommended for hot climates or moderately hot climates in households with many occupants. Households that use their AC for an extended time will benefit from having a SEER this high. At this SEER and higher, expect your unit to pay for itself over time. However, this is only true in hot climates because more moderate climates may not use it enough to make it worthwhile.

20 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of a 20 SEER AC unit averages $3,000 to $6,000. Units with ratings of 20 SEER are generally only recommended for extreme climates. If you live in a very hot climate and run your AC frequently, a 20 SEER AC unit helps keep energy bills down. Since most older units have a much lower SEER, those who live in very hot climates may see a big drop in energy costs by upgrading to this level. These efficient units can pay for themselves over their lifetime with the energy savings. This unit is not recommended for moderate or moderately hot climates because the high upfront cost will not be offset by the lowered energy costs.

21 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of a 21 SEER AC unit is between $3,000 and $6,000. 21 SEER is one of the highest recommended ratings for residential use, mostly in extremely hot climates and only if you plan on living in the home long-term to make up the cost difference. This unit is best for high-occupancy homes, larger homes, and homes with greater-than-average AC needs. When used in a very hot climate, they help keep your energy bills at a reasonable rate. Due to the high upfront cost, this unit is not usually recommended for moderate or moderately hot climates. The purchase in those cases would not be offset by lower energy bills.

22 to 24 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of an AC unit with a SEER of between 22 and 24 averages $5,000 to $7,000. This unit is not usually recommended for residential use. Even in the hottest climates, the high upfront costs mean that it will not pay for itself in a timely fashion. However, this SEER may be beneficial for a commercial space that has high cooling needs. Spaces that have many occupants tend to have higher-than-average cooling needs, particularly in a hot climate. In this case, a unit with a very high SEER like this may be worth the additional cost.

High and low-end costs are based on the efficiency of the units. A 13 SEER unit will definitely do the job cooling your home, but in the long run may cost more to operate, which will be reflected on your monthly utility bills. On the higher end of the spectrum, a 21 SEER unit is more efficient and is a better long-term play for saving money on energy bills, especially if you are choosing to stay in the home long term. So for a larger investment upfront, you’ll receive dividends over time in the form of energy savings. Furthermore, most manufacturers and utility companies offer attractive rebates and incentives for installing high-efficiency units.

Dominic Leodoro, AC installation expert.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (7)

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Central AC Prices by Brand

The air conditioner brand plays a big role in how much you pay. Some brands use the same coils and internal parts but have much higher or lower prices than other brands. This can be due to things like longevity or name recognition. Other brands have higher-quality parts, resulting in a higher-quality product. Always research before purchasing because prices do not always mean a product is better or worse than the others.

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2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (9)

BrandAverage Cost (3-Ton Unit)
Heil$2,000 - $3,000
Rheem$2,000 - $3,000
Lennox$2,000 - $4,000
Trane$2,000 - $4,000
American Standard$2,500 - $3,000
Goodman$3,000 - $4,000
Amana$3,000 - $5,000
Bryant$4,000 - $5,000
Carrier$4,000 - $5,000
York$4,000 - $6,000

Heil Central Air Conditioner Cost

The cost of a Heil central air conditioner is between $2,000 and $3,000 for a 3-ton unit. Heil air conditioners are economical and budget-friendly. They have a lower purchase price than many brands. However, they also have fairly efficient models that mean a lower ongoing cost.

Rheem Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Rheem central air conditioner ranges from $2,000 to $3,000. Rheem takes budget and efficiency into consideration. They have many units available with a very high SEER but with a reasonable starting price. Their units have an exterior powder coating for durability outside.

Lennox Central Air Cost

The cost of a Lennox central air conditioner averages $2,000 to $4,000 for a 3-ton unit. Lennox specializes in all types of heating, cooling, and ventilation products. Their air conditioners are efficient and very quiet. Lennox may be a good choice if you need to mount your unit near a bedroom or home office.

Trane Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Trane central air conditioner unit is between $2,000 and $4,000. Trane is another good option when looking for something both efficient and quiet. Trane specializes in all types of HVAC and ventilation, meaning they produce high-quality products that last.

American Standard Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of an American Standard central air conditioner ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 for a 3-ton unit. American Standard makes efficient and durable air conditioners. They have good warranties and last for years. They come in a range of different SEER ratings as well.

Goodman Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Goodman central air conditioner is $3,000 to $4,000. Goodman is one of the preferred brands by many technicians. Many air conditioning installers carry Goodman, so you can easily find installers and service techs. They carry a range of different SEERs and units to choose from.

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Amana Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of an Amana central air conditioner averages $3,000 to $5,000 for a 3-ton unit. Amana is an American company that has been making household appliances since the 1930s. They have a long history of producing quality products. This includes air conditioners in a range of different SEER ratings.

Bryant Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Bryant central air conditioner unit is $4,000 to $5,000. Bryant is well-known in the HVAC industry. They make high-quality, premium appliances for residential use. Their air conditioners come in a wide range of SEER, all with a premium warranty.

Carrier Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Carrier central air conditioner averages $4,000 to $5,000. Carrier is considered a premium appliance brand. They manufacture high-quality products that are well-known for consistently high performance. They have several high-efficiency units to choose from.

York Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a York central air conditioner ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 for a 3-ton unit. York produces premium air conditioners and other HVAC appliances. They have some of the best warranties in the industry. They also produce a wide range of efficiency models, all of which are highly reliable.

Average Cost to Install Central Air

The cost to install central air conditioning is based on several factors, including whether it is a split or packaged system and whether the ducts need to be replaced or installed. For installations that only replace the AC unit, labor costs are lower than with an installation where the ducts need to be replaced.

The estimated labor cost is between $1,250 to $2,300 for installing the AC with the lines and pad3. Add to that approximately $1,300 in labor for installing new ducts. This makes the total labor cost around $2,550 to $3,600 for a full AC and duct installation, out of the $7,000 total.

Costs vary for installation depending on the unit type and whether you need new ducts. Replacements tend to be cheaper than new installations, and different setups have varying costs as well.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (10)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (11)

AC TypeAverage Labor CostsTotal Costs
Packaged AC$1,000 - $2,000$4,000 - $10,000
Split System$1,250 - $2,300$3,750 - $9,800
Packaged HVAC$2,000 - $5,000$10,000 - $14,000

Cost to Install Central Air With No Existing Ductwork

If you do not have existing ductwork, it is still possible to have central air conditioning installed. In this case, you need to have ducts installed as well. Labor costs for this are $1,250 to $2,300, the unit cost, and the new ductwork cost - $1,800 to $3,300 for labor and material. This makes the average cost of a 3-ton unit around $7,000. If you need a larger or smaller unit or a larger run of ducts, your costs could be different.

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Cost to Add Air Conditioning to an Existing Furnace

If you already have an existing furnace, you also have ducts in place. This makes the total cost of installation much lower. The unit and installation costs end up averaging $3,750 to $9,800, with most people paying around $3,050 to $4,500 for a 3-ton unit fully installed.

Cost to Install Central Air by Location

Depending on your home type, you may have different costs for the unit and installation. In an apartment building, central air may need to feed multiple units - not just a single unit. This means using much larger units. The same may apply for condos, but because condos are individually owned, costs vary, depending on whether the air is running to all units or just one. In addition, whether there are ducts already in place in these buildings also impacts costs. Older homes and apartment buildings are not likely to have ducts installed, driving costs much higher.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (13)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (14)

LocationAverage Costs (Installed)
Mobile Home$3,000 - $7,000
Old House$7,000 - $15,000
Condo$15,000 - $60,000
Apartment$50,000 - $150,000

Central Air for Mobile Home Prices

The cost of installing central air in a mobile home is between $3,000 and $7,000. If your mobile home does not have ducts already installed, this project may not be possible. Many mobile homes do not have the space to retrofit ducts. If you want air conditioning, consider ductless, mini-split, or window units. If you had ducts installed at the factory, it is possible to run central air along the same lines. Costs vary depending on the size and condition of the ducts.

Before installing central air in your mobile home, you should determine if the duct system is A/C-compatible and if the mobile home has an exterior 220-volt power outlet.

Cost to Install Central Air in an Old House

The average cost to install central air in an old house ranges from $7,000 to $15,000. Older homes are the least likely to have ductwork already installed. For that reason, it needs to be installed before the central air conditioning. The cost of this project depends on how easy the ducts are to install, such as the amount of space and whether they need to be run through closets, between floors, or in attics and crawl spaces. Doing so exposes those areas to moisture due to the condensation inherent with central air.

Condo Central Air Conditioning

The cost to add air conditioning to a condo averages $15,000 to $60,000. Condos are shared spaces, with the occupants owning the individual units. The lowest costs involve banding together with the other owners to install the air conditioning through central spaces. However, this can be expensive due to the layout of the buildings. Most condos make better use of ductless AC or window units, rather than installing central air unless it is built into the original building.

Central Air Conditioning for Apartments Cost

The average cost of installing central air conditioning in apartments is between $50,000 and $150,000. Central air conditioning offers a consistent and comfortable temperature, while providing cleaner air to breathe, as it uses filters so​ the air does not get musty. Apartment buildings often need to have built-in4 ducts from the start. Otherwise, adding them later can be very expensive. The ducts need to travel through the entire building, and it is more cost-effective to do multiple units at one time than to add it to a single unit. This often means sacrificing spaces like storage and closets. These spaces are subject to moisture due to condensation if they are added after the building was built.

Talk to local pros to get quotes for your central AC installation

Central Air Size and Manual J Calculation

The amount of BTUs you need for your home is partially calculated by the square footage. This is the rate at which your air conditioner can cool the air in one hour. The more square footage your home has, the higher the BTUs needed to cool it. The climate impacts the number of BTUs, with hotter climates requiring more BTUs than colder climates.

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2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (16)

Area to Be CooledMinimum BTUs Needed per Hour
700 - 1,000 sq.ft.18,000
1,000 - 1,200 sq.ft.21,000
1,200 - 1,400 sq.ft.23,000
1,400 - 1,500 sq.ft.24,000
1,500 - 2,000 sq.ft.30,000
2,000 - 2,500 sq.ft.34,000
2,500 - 3,000 sq.ft.40,000
3,000 - 3,500 sq.ft.46,000

To determine the cost of your new air conditioner, you first need to know the size of the unit that will work best in your home. Most technicians use your home’s square footage to determine the correct unit size for your property using the Manual J calculation, which determines the heating and cooling load of a home. It takes into account the property size, insulation, climate, and how much direct sunlight your home receives. It can also be performed as part of an energy audit to find any air leaks in your home. This calculation is done by a tool published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to determine the correct size of HVAC equipment.

By taking these different components into consideration, your technician determines which size unit will work for your home. This helps you avoid purchasing a unit that is too large, which may use more energy than necessary and will not remove adequate humidity from the air. It also prevents you from buying a unit that is too small and uses more energy, while not cooling the air adequately for your home.

Average AC Unit Costs by Size or Capacity

The unit size plays a big part in determining the final cost. The larger your home, the bigger the unit you need to cool it. The unit size can be influenced by various outside factors, including how much sun your home gets, how much insulation you have, and the age and type of your ducts. Most homes need between 3 and 3.5 tons, with some larger homes needing 4 or more. These are the most common sizes available.

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2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (18)

TonsBTUsAverage Cost (Installed)
1.5 Tons18,000 BTUs$2,050 - $3,300
2 Tons24,000 BTUs$2,450 - $3,800
2.5 Tons30,000 BTUs$2,750 - $4,100
3 Tons36,000 BTUs$3,050 - $4,500
3.5 Tons42,000 BTUs$3,750 - $5,100
4 Tons48,000 BTUs$4,250 - $5,800
5 Tons60,000 BTUs$4,750 - $7,300

Cost of a 2-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 2-ton AC unit installed is between $2,450 and $3,800. Costs vary depending on the SEER and whether this is a replacement or new installation. Change-outs or replacements tend to be slightly less expensive because some things can be reused. A 2-ton AC unit can be a good option for smaller homes and homes that are very tightly insulated. If you need to add ducts, pour a new pad, or have other specific needs, your overall costs could be higher.

Cost of a 3-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 3-ton AC unit installed averages $3,050 to $4,500, depending on the SEER. They also depend on whether this is a replacement or new installation. In a new installation, you often need to purchase items that can be reused in a replacement. This means that costs vary between the two projects. If you also need ducts installed, this impacts the total project cost.

Cost of a 4-Ton AC Unit Installed

The average cost of a 4-ton AC unit ranges from $4,250 to $5,800 fully installed. The project costs vary depending on the SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the higher your initial costs. Your costs also change depending on whether this is a new or replacement installation. 4-ton AC units are most common in larger homes and in homes that have higher-than-average AC needs. This size unit may be too large for the average home, leading to higher energy bills.

Cost of a 5-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 5-ton AC unit is between $4,750 and $7,300, depending on the SEER you choose. It can also vary depending on whether this is a new installation or replacement. If you need ducts or additional work done, your costs will be higher. An AC unit this size is usually used for larger buildings. It is often oversized for most homes, even in hot climates. Installing a unit that is too large for the space can mean higher-than-average energy bills. It also means the unit wears out quicker and needs maintenance more often.

Central Air Conditioner Size by Climate Zone

The size of the air conditioner you purchase for your home can be impacted by several things, including your climate. Homes located in hot climates need to have a larger system to cool the same amount of space as a home located in a cold climate. So, while larger homes have larger air conditioning needs, you also need to consider your climate zone to make sure that your unit is sized accurately.

States and areas in the country are broken into climate zones, numbered one to five. Homes in climate zone 1 are in hot areas such as Florida, Texas, and parts of Arizona. Homes located in climate zone 5 will be in very cold areas like Minnesota, Maine, and Montana.

Each zone has a minimum number of BTUs needed for your air conditioner to cool your home effectively. The hotter the zone you are located in, the more BTUs are needed per square foot to cool your home.

To get the most accurate central air conditioning size, multiply the square footage of your home’s interior by the number of BTUs in your climate zone using the chart located below.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (19)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (20)

ZoneNumber of BTUs per Square Foot
150 - 60
245 - 50
340 - 45
435 - 40
530 - 35

Cost to Run Central Air

The cost to run central air conditioning depends on multiple factors, including the unit size, SEER rating, climate, and cost of electricity in your area. Most air conditioning units cost between $3 and $5 a day to run, but this varies tremendously based on the above factors. To determine your bill, find out how many kWs your unit uses in an hour and determine the kW cost in your area. This is the cost to run your unit for 1 hour. From there, you can calculate how much your costs will be per month.

Central Air Replacement Cost

If your ducts are less than 15 years old or are in good condition, you can do what is known as a change-out installation, which means replacing just the air conditioner and not the rest of the system. This has a much lower cost, with an average of around $5,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. home.

However, this installation only happens in roughly 15% to 20% of all installations because most of the time, the ducts are not in good enough condition to support the new air conditioner, requiring a full installation.

Cost to Replace Freon in Central AC

If you notice that your house takes forever to cool down, ice has built up on the evaporator coils, or the AC system runs much longer than usual, among other things, then your AC may not be cooling as it should. It may need new refrigerant, which is known as a recharge of your unit. Depending on the unit size and refrigerant type, this costs between $150 and $600. If your unit needs new refrigerant, it is likely leaking or losing it in some way. Therefore, most recharges include leak repair.

Cost of Replacing a Furnace and Central Air

If you need to replace your furnace and central air conditioner at the same time, you can often contract with one company to do both. This may give you a better cost on the materials, labor, or both, depending on the company and project type.

If your ducts are in good condition, the cost of replacing the air conditioner is around $5,000, while the cost of replacing the furnace is around $5,935 on average. Expect to pay between $9,000 and $11,000 for both. If you need new ducts, this can increase the project costs to $11,000 to $15,000.

Adding Central Air to Forced Air Heat

If you already have forced hot air in your home, it is fairly easy to add central air conditioning using a split system. In this system, the condensing unit is outside, and the evaporator and coil are installed on top of your furnace, using its air exchanger and existing ductwork. This has a lower cost, starting at around $2,000 installed, provided you do not need to replace the furnace or the ducts for the system to function.

Ductless vs Central Air

Central air conditioning is one way to cool your home. Another option that may work better in some homes is a ductless system, also known as a mini-split. Mini-splits have a condenser and air handler, with the condenser outside and the air handler in the wall. They can cool multiple rooms at once, but the more zones you add, the higher the cost tends to be. However, using a ductless system is faster to install and much less invasive than installing ducts in a home that does not have any.

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The cost of a ductless system is between $3,150 and $9,000. Depending on the home size, costs may be lower than installing central air. As an added benefit, most ductless systems offer a heat pump option, which can also heat your home.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (21)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (22)

TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Ductless$3,150 - $9,000
Central Air$5,000 - $12,000

Central Air vs Window Unit

Central air conditioning is designed to cool every room in your home equally simultaneously. However, if you only need to spot cool or cool specific rooms, consider a window unit. Window ACs cool a specific amount of space near the window. They can cool very large, open spaces, but they cannot cool multiple rooms from one unit. To cool an entire home, you need multiple units. In addition, most window units are not designed to stay in the window year-round. This means you have ongoing maintenance and costs in removing and replacing them. The average window unit costs between $200 and $1,000 per window with installation.

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (23)

2022 Cost to Install Central Air | Central Air Cost (24)

TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Window AC$200 - $1,000
Central Air$5,000 - $12,000

Find the best central AC installers near you

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Energy Audit

An energy audit takes a comprehensive look at your home and energy usage, finding ways to improve it so that you can save money. Doing so before having central air installed helps reduce future energy costs. It has an average cost of around $250.

Ductwork

Most homes have ducts installed that you can use. However, if your ducts are older than 15 years or no ducts are installed, you may need to add new ones. This has an average cost of around $1,800 to $3,300.

Old AC Removal

Most companies remove your old unit at no charge, but some have a fee for removal or disposal. This ranges from $25 to $200, depending on the unit’s age.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Insulation. Heating and cooling systems work most efficiently in well-insulated homes, which saves you money. Poorly insulated homes result in higher energy bills.
  • Size. Your HVAC system must be properly sized to your home to provide the best performance. This is why professionals need to measure and make calculations before you purchase a system.
  • Airflow. The airflow needs to be airtight. Otherwise, your energy bills may be higher, or you may have hot or cold spots in your home. Contractors measure for volume and adjust ducts and vents as needed for optimal airflow.
  • Refrigerant. Your HVAC system uses refrigerant to cool the air in your home. If your system does not have enough, it could result in higher energy bills and increased humidity. Your HVAC contractor can check the charge on the refrigerant and adjust as needed.
  • Warranty. Newly installed air conditioners come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which varies in length, depending on the brand. This typically ranges from 5 - 15 years with an average of 10.
  • Winter months. You may get the lowest price on installation by installing during the winter months when HVAC professionals are less busy.
  • Permits. You may need a permit or to have the system inspected after installation. Check with your local town or city hall to find out more.

FAQs​​

  • Does central AC add value to a home?

Yes, central AC adds value to most homes, particularly in hot climates.

  • How often should you replace your air conditioner?

Most air conditioners last from 10 to 20 years, with 15 years being average.

  • How long does it take to install central air conditioning?

This depends on the system and unit size but takes 1 to 3 days on average.

  • What is the labor cost to install central air?

This depends on the system size and type and whether you have ducts installed. It could be $1,250 to $2,300 in labor.

  • Can I install central air myself?

This is not a good project for DIY and should be done by a licensed professional to ensure it is done correctly.

  • How much does it cost for an AC unit in a 2,000 sq.ft. home?

Many factors influence the final cost of an AC unit for a 2,000 sq.ft. home. Some brands can handle this space with 3 tons, while others require 3.5 or 4 tons. If you live in a very hot climate, you may need a 5-ton unit for a home this size. In addition, the brand and SEER rating also impact the final cost of the unit and installation. The average cost of a new split system AC unit with new ducts in a 2,000 sq.ft. home is around $7,000.

FAQs

Is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating 2022? ›

Cost to run - However, you could quickly make back the money spent on installing HVAC systems into your property, as they are cheaper to run than central heating systems.

Is it worth it to install central air? ›

Central air conditioning gives you the comfort of temperature control more efficiently than a window unit. A window unit can cool a single room fairly well, but if you need a few throughout the house, the energy costs can stack up fast. Central air also provides you with improved air quality in every room.

How much is a 3 ton central air unit? ›

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $4,000 to $7,000. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for a 3-ton, split system unit with a SEER rating of 16, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts.

Is 16 SEER worth the extra money? ›

Benefits of a Higher SEER Rating

A rating above 16 SEER is associated with lower energy consumption, which translates to less money spent on energy costs. Replacing an 8 SEER AC or heat pump unit with a 16 SEER one may save you up to 50 percent on your energy bill.

How much does a new HVAC system cost 2022? ›

The cost to replace an HVAC system averages $7,000, with a typical range of $5,000 to $10,000. This translates into $25 to $60 per square foot of coverage, depending on the brand and size. For a new installation, you can expect to pay $1,500 to $12,500.

What is the most cost effective cooling for a home? ›

Heat pumps are also a very efficient way to cool your home. For the summer, your most efficient cooling system will be either a heat pump or an air conditioner. The specific HVAC system you need will vary widely depending on both your climate and the age and layout of your home.

Does central air Raise value of home? ›

One appraisal estimate in Money magazine says that installing a new central air-conditioning system will increase your property value by 10%. Our agents modify this a bit, noting that while they would price a home with central AC higher than one without, the pricing depends on other market conditions.

Does installing central air increase home value? ›

Installing a new HVAC system could increase your home's value by as much as $2,500-$3,000 or approximately 5-10% of the total value of your home.

How much is a new AC unit for a 1500 sq ft house? ›

Cost of central air for 1500 sq ft house? $4,650 – $9,900, according to the Cost of AC per House Size Table above. This is an installed cost. Most homeowners pay around $7,900 for an average-quality, 16 to 18 SEER AC.

Is it cheaper to run a window air conditioner or central air? ›

It depends. If you're looking to cool your entire house, having multiple window air conditioners will use more energy than a single properly-sized central air conditioner would. Conversely, if you need to cool a single room, a window air conditioner will, of course, be the more efficient option.

How many square feet will a 3-ton AC cool? ›

3-ton is equal to 36,000 BTU. If you apply the 20 BTU per sq ft rule of thumb, you can see that a 3-ton air conditioner cools about 1,800 square feet spaces.

How much is the labor to install an AC unit? ›

Average Cost to Install Central Air
AC TypeAverage Labor CostsTotal Costs
Packaged AC$1,000 - $2,000$4,000 - $10,000
Split System$1,250 - $2,300$3,750 - $9,800
Packaged HVAC$2,000 - $5,000$10,000 - $14,000
5 May 2022

Does a 14 SEER qualify for tax credit? ›

Central Air Conditioning

You can qualify for tax credit up to $300. Split systems must have a minimum of 16 SEER and 13 EER whereas packaged systems must meet or exceed 14 SEER and 12 EER.

Is Trane better than carrier? ›

In the comparison of Carrier Vs. Trane air conditioner in terms of energy efficiency, Trane finds its superiority over the latter one. All the models belonging to the three tiers produced by Trane are more energy-efficient than that in Carrier.

Will HVAC prices go down in 2022? ›

Recent trends and HVAC manufacturers' announcements indicate that the prices for new systems will go up in 2022. There are several reasons for this, aside from the current price increases in construction industries.

What time of year is best to replace HVAC system? ›

There is no doubt that the best time to replace HVAC systems is during the off-season. More than often, the off-season stretches from late September to mid-November and from early March to mid-May is the best time to replace HVAC system for your home or business.

What month do air conditioners go on sale? ›

If you're looking to buy an air conditioner for the summer, the best time to shop is now! It may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is this: buyers can find the best deals on new air conditioners (and HVAC services) from late February into late March.

How can I cool my house for free? ›

Best Ways to Cool a House: Downstairs
  1. Draw the Blinds. While natural light is great, too much of it can turn your home into a sauna during the summer months. ...
  2. Avoid Using the Stove. ...
  3. Unplug Appliances You're Not Using. ...
  4. Turn on Bathroom Fans. ...
  5. Opt for Breezy Clothing. ...
  6. Add Outdoor Shade. ...
  7. Switch to No-Heat Lightbulbs.
28 Jun 2018

Is it cheaper to keep a house cool or cool it down? ›

Keeping your home at a constant temperature generally means that your HVAC system will run constantly to meet it. This means that your furnace or air conditioner may run when you're asleep, at work, or out of the house. This wastes more energy than the minimal amount that you might save by having it constantly run.

How can I cool my house without a central air conditioner? ›

As summer heats up, here are 5 ways to cool your house without...
  1. Bring down the dew point with a dehumidifier. ...
  2. Turn your home into a cool house with fans. ...
  3. Use blinds and window tints to block out sunlight. ...
  4. Invest in a portable air conditioning unit. ...
  5. Cordon off your cool with a window air conditioner.
11 Jun 2021

What brings the most value to a home? ›

The top five projects that add the most dollar value to a sale in 2022 are refinishing hardwood floors, installing new wood floors, upgrading insulation, converting a basement to a living area and renovating closets, according to a joint report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association ...

Can you put central air in a house without ductwork? ›

Installing a central air conditioner without ductwork is possible, but it might not be the best method for all homes. In some cases, installing central AC units in rooms with no vents or registers will provide minimal cooling and airflow to that room. This can also lead to higher utility bills.

Are mini splits cheaper to run than central air? ›

Air conditioners use quite a bit of energy. Central units are within the range of 3000-3500 watts per hour while mini-split units can run at about 2,000 watts per hour at peak cooling. If you don't need much cooling capacity, you'll benefit from a mini-split air conditioner, which will be much cheaper to run.

How much does it cost to install central air without ductwork? ›

Do you want to add air conditioning to your home, but it doesn't have any air ducts? You can either choose to: Install new ductwork and a central AC system (which can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $17,000+ combined) Install a ductless AC system (which can cost from $4,000 to $20,000+)

Which is better ductless AC or central AC? ›

Ductless systems are potentially much more efficient, so your utility cost is generally much less than with central air. The downside is that the initial cost is more. This can be counterintuitive, because we think of mini-splits as the “smaller” option.

How much does central air Add to appraisal? ›

Although one appraisal estimate in Pocket Sense says that installing a new central air-conditioning system will increase your property value by 10%, our agents modify this a bit. While they would price a home with central AC higher than one without, the pricing depends on other market conditions.

How long does it take to install central air? ›

A typical air conditioner installation typically takes between 4 and 8 hours to complete. These times can fluctuate depending on the size of the existing system, weather, and accessibility. Air conditioners are made up of two components: the indoor evaporator coil and an outdoor condenser.

What size central air conditioner do I need for a 1500 sq ft home? ›

What size air conditioner do I need for a 1,500 square foot house? A 2.5 ton air conditioner is best because about 30,000 BTU is needed for a house that's 1,500 square feet.

How long does it take to install central air with existing ductwork? ›

If it's a standard installation, without any complications or corrective work that needs to be done, it's almost always a 1-day job. That's assuming you already have a forced air furnace and the ductwork in your home.

Does central air use a lot of electricity? ›

Central air conditioners use 1,000 watts per one ton of cooling capacity. For a 2,000 square foot home with standard-height ceilings, you'll need about 3.5 tons of cooling power. This capacity of air conditioner will use about 3,500 watts per hour.

Is it cheaper to keep central air on all the time? ›

Turning Your Air Conditioner On & Off vs.

Since air conditioners use more energy when they cycle all day, it is cheaper to let your system operate at full capacity when you're home instead of running it at a lower capacity all day. The more energy you use, the more money you'll pay in monthly utility bills.

Is it cheaper to use fans or central air? ›

Fans are cheaper to run than air conditioners, and can be used in place of air conditioners or along with them to save money. If you have a ceiling fan, run it at the same time as the AC.

Is 20 SEER worth the money? ›

If an air conditioner has a 20+ SEER rating, that is considered an excellent energy-efficient unit.

What is the difference between a 2.5 ton and 3 ton AC? ›

And manufacturers do provide estimates, which helps homeowners narrow down their choices. For example, a 30,000 BTU, 2.5-ton air conditioner is made to effectively cool a home between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. A slightly larger 3,600, 3-ton unit, is designed for homes that are 1,500 to 1,800 square feet.

What SEER AC should I buy? ›

There's no magic SEER number. Anything over 13 is great. Because if you have an old 8 SEER system and replace it with a 16 SEER unit, you could significantly reduce the cost of cooling your home.

Why does AC install cost so much? ›

Conclusion. When it comes down to it, the most expensive parts of any HVAC unit installation will be the machine and the labor. The device is so expensive because it is filled with complicated electrical gadgets that measure airflow and temperature.

What does AC installation include? ›

Installation price for split AC will cover following:

Mounting and installation of indoor unit on wall, Making hole on wall for taking out copper tubes and filling it with white cement, Placing the outdoor unit at serviceable location, Interconnection of copper pipes. Connection the wiring and commissioning the units.

How much should a 3-ton AC unit cost installed? ›

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $4,000 to $7,000. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for a 3-ton, split system unit with a SEER rating of 16, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts.

Which brand AC is best in 2022? ›

10 Best AC Brands in India 2022
  • LG:
  • Daikin:
  • Hitachi:
  • Carrier:
  • O General:
  • Whirlpool:
  • Blue Star:
  • Panasonic:
1 Sept 2022

Which is No 1 AC brand in world? ›

1. Samsung. These qualities have helped them to produce the best Ac in the world.

Is there a tax credit for HVAC in 2022? ›

There were also other individual credit limits for air circulating fans ($50); some furnaces and boilers ($150); and certain water heaters, heat pumps, and air conditioning systems ($300). The credit is revived for the 2022 tax year, and the old rules apply.

Is there an energy tax credit for 2022? ›

**UPDATE 08/18/2022** As part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 signed into law on August 16, 2022, residential energy efficiency tax credits have been extended through 2032. This information applies to the existing tax credits for 2022.

Is it worth paying higher SEER? ›

A rating above 16 SEER is associated with lower energy consumption, which translates to less money spent on energy costs. Replacing an 8 SEER AC or heat pump unit with a 16 SEER one may save you up to 50 percent on your energy bill.

Is Trane a high end brand? ›

In general, Trane is one of the more expensive AC brands on the market, but reviewers feel that if you have the budget, Trane is one of the best heating and cooling systems you can buy. The price of an installed Trane furnace starts at about $3,400, according to the company's website.

Which HVAC has the best warranty? ›

Top 5 Home Warranty Companies for HVAC Systems
  • American Home Shield: Our Overall Top Pick.
  • Liberty Home Guard: Most Responsive.
  • Select Home Warranty: Best Value.
  • First American Home Warranty: Best Appliance Coverage.
  • America's 1st Choice Home Club: Best for Customization.
19 Sept 2022

Is Lennox better than Trane? ›

In terms of efficiency levels in these AC units, Lennox takes the lead. Their Lennox XC25 leads the way with a SEER rating of up to 26. Lennox is famous for making high-efficiency products, including heat pumps, air conditioners, and furnaces. Trane brand comes second, with their leading model having a 22 SEER rating.

Is it cheaper to use gas or electricity 2022? ›

When it comes to using energy, gas is typically cheaper than electricity. Looking Ofgem's price cap rates, gas has gone up to 10.3p per kWh from October 1, 2022 from 7p and electricity up to 34p per kWh, from 28p.

Is air conditioning cheaper to run than gas central heating? ›

AC is one of the most efficient ways of heating an area and can save you considerable money on running costs over a central heating system during its life span.

Is it cheaper to use gas or electricity 2022 UK? ›

The unit cost of gas heating is cheaper than electric, at 10p/kWh, vs 34p/kWh for electricity. However, the average cost to install a gas central heating system is around £5,250, compared with £3,790 to install an electric heating system.

What is the cheapest form of heating UK 2022? ›

The cheapest way to heat your home is with a gas boiler and solar thermal panels, which will cost the typical three-bedroom house £15,980 over 10 years.

Should I fix my energy prices until 2023? ›

You should only fix your energy prices until 2023 if you can source a cheaper fixed tariff than that of the October 2022 price cap increase.

Will electricity prices go down 2023? ›

But will energy prices come down in 2023? According to the latest analysis by Cornwall Insight, energy bills could soar by 48%, based on current wholesale prices and based on typical average use, in April 2023. This is lower than its prediction made last month when the rise was predicted to hit 74%.

What is the cheapest way to heat a room? ›

Once you have made sure that heat loss from a room is kept to a minimum, gas central heating is generally your cheapest option. If that's not possible, then consider using an oil-filled heater for larger rooms or an electric heater for small areas if you're willing to use it in short bursts.

What is the cheapest way to run your central heating? ›

You should set the central heating programme to come on around half an hour before you get up, and go off around half an hour before you go to bed. And if the house is empty during the day, or you can manage without heating during the day, make sure you've set the programmer to go off for this period too.

Is it cheaper to have AC units or central air? ›

It all comes down to use and how much you're willing to invest in your HVAC system. For several rooms or even a whole building, it's cheaper and more efficient to go for a central air conditioner. For a single room, a window unit is just fine.

Is central air cheaper than split system? ›

Lower Initial Cost

Cost is one major factor when comparing mini-split vs. central air systems. The upfront cost of central air is 30% less than mini-split systems minus the ductwork installation. If you already have ductwork in your home, then it is an affordable heating/cooling option.

Should I replace gas central heating with electric? ›

More energy efficient – Electric heating wins hands down when it comes to energy efficiency. When you pay for 1kW of electricity, you receive 1kW of heat. Gas boilers can vary in efficiency depending on the type and model of boiler you choose, but they are never 100% energy efficient.

How much does it cost to run central heating for 1 hour 2022? ›

How much does it cost to run gas central heating per hour? If you're connected to mains gas, you're looking at a cost of around 4.65p per kilowatt-hour.

Is it cheaper to run an electric heater or central heating? ›

electric heating cost is much cheaper. A single kilowatt-hour (kWh) unit of gas costs around 4.65p, whereas the average price for a kWh of electricity is more than 20p. This doesn't mean that electric heating running costs are four times those of gas, however!

What is the cheapest form of heating 2022? ›

The Top 10 Tips for Heating your Home in the cheapest way in 2022
  • Invest in a terracotta heater. ...
  • Consider your actions. ...
  • Add a shelf to the space just above your radiator. ...
  • Stop your chimney from causing draughts. ...
  • Check your radiators. ...
  • Inspect areas that may cause draughts. ...
  • Invest in rugs. ...
  • Add curtains to your rooms.
21 Feb 2022

How can I heat my home for free? ›

10 step guide to keep your house warm without heating
  1. Rejig your furniture. ...
  2. Use a terracotta heater. ...
  3. Invest in insulation. ...
  4. Think about your habits. ...
  5. Put a shelf above a radiator. ...
  6. Bleed your radiators. ...
  7. Analyse any draughts. ...
  8. Block your chimney up.
26 Aug 2022

What is the best alternative to gas central heating? ›

Gas Boiler Alternative
  1. Electric Radiators. ...
  2. Electric Water Heaters. ...
  3. Heat Pumps. ...
  4. Hybrid heating system. ...
  5. Solar Thermal Panels. ...
  6. Infrared Heating Panels. ...
  7. Solar Powered Electric Heating. ...
  8. Biomass Boilers.
3 Mar 2022

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