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How much does it cost to install air conditioning?

When it comes to air conditioners, homeowners have a lot of questions: what size of AC do I need? What type of system should I get? But, by far, the most common question we get is this: How much does it cost to replace the air conditioner in my home?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at that question and explain why the answer varies—and what factors into the total cost of your new air conditioner.

We’ll also review how much an air conditioner costs to run every month, whether or not a new AC unit is a good investment, and why homeowners should steer clear of installing their own system.

How much does it cost to replace my AC?

According to data collected by HomeAdvisor, replacing an air conditioner costs homeowners somewhere between $3,800 and $7,500—or $5,600, on average. However, this is just the average cost. Your final AC installation costs will depend on the following:

The size of your home. Larger homes and multi-story homes require larger air conditioners with more cooling capacity. The higher your square footage, the higher your installation costs.

The make and model purchased. High-efficiency, high-performance air conditioners from reputable brands like Carrier cost more than lower-efficiency, older models from other manufacturers. Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for: buying a cheap air conditioner could really come back to bite you down the road.

Your installation needs. There’s a big difference between replacing just the air conditioner versus installing new ducts and, in effect, adding central cooling and heating infrastructure to your home.

As you’ve probably gathered, there’s no one-size-fits-all way of calculating the cost of a new air conditioner. That’s why HVAC companies—like ours!—offer free in-home estimates.

During your estimate, an experienced AC installation technician will take detailed measurements of your home to ensure they match your property to the right-sized air conditioner. This allows them to give you an accurate installation estimate.

The cost of installing an air conditioner, like the one pictured in this photo, depends on the system and size of your home.

How much does an AC cost to run every month?

Just like with the cost of replacing your air conditioner, there’s no simple answer to this question. A vast majority of air conditioners are powered by electricity, so the cost of running your air conditioner is going to depend on your local utility’s rates, your local climate, how much you’re using the air conditioner in any given month, and—as mentioned above—how efficient your system is. Your home’s overall energy-efficiency can even have an impact on your final bill!

What do local homeowners end up paying?

In the Sun Belt states, most homeowners can expect to pay somewhere between $100 to $200 per-month on their total electric bill. Since cooling typically accounts for about 40-50% of your total energy usage, that means your air conditioner is probably costing you between $50 – $100 to run every month. That’s a lot of money, but—if you’ve ever spent a hot and humid night in your home—you probably know that every penny is worth it.

What can I do to save money?

Obviously, you can’t control the climate where you live or what your utility company charges for electricity. You can, however, control the efficiency of your system and your home. If you’re concerned about high energy bills, talk to your HVAC contractor about installing a more-efficient air conditioner. The higher upfront cost could be worth the savings you get, many summers down the line.

You can also take steps to make your home more efficient. One of the best places to start is in the attic. Many older homes don’t have sufficient attic insulation, so adding more insulation is a great way to lower your cooling costs.

You can also add caulking and weather stripping around your windows and doors to cut down on the amount of outdoor heat getting inside.

Is air conditioning a good investment?

Yes. Either adding an air conditioner or replacing an older air conditioner can add significant value to your home.

Adding an air conditioner

If your home currently does not have central air conditioning, adding an air conditioner can be a major game-changer for both your own indoor comfort and the long-term value of your property. Many homebuyers have come to think of air conditioning as a standard—not an added bonus. By adding cooling to your home, you can make your home much more valuable and appealing to buyers when you go to list it.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to install a ton of ductwork to get access to air conditioning. If your home doesn’t have ductwork, a ductless mini-split system might be the better option. These wall-mounted blowers allow you to put air conditioning in any room of your home, and can greatly reduce the overall cost of installation.

Replacing an air conditioner

Does your home have an older, aging air conditioner? That could end up being a major turnoff for prospective homebuyers when you list. No one wants to inherit someone else’s problems—especially heading into summer.

Some buyers and realtors will deliberately exclude homes from their search that have an older AC system. They just don’t want to deal with it. Being proactive and replacing your AC ahead of listing can be a huge difference-maker for your home when it hits the market.

Can I install my own air conditioner?

There’s multiple answers to this question. If the question pertains to the legality of installing your own air conditioner, the answer is going to vary from state-to-state.

In some states and territories, homeowners are prohibited from installing their own HVAC systems. Here in New Mexico, state law forbids homeowners from running their own ductwork—only a licensed contractor can install, extend, or repair ducts.

The other part of this question is this: is it smart to install my own air conditioner? The answer is almost always no. There are a few key problems with attempting to install your own air conditioner:

Equipment

The condenser unit alone is a large, heavy part. It’s not something a lone homeowner can safely transport or carry to their yard. If your AC is roof-mounted, there’s about a million reasons why that’s even more dangerous!

Tools

Installing an air conditioner and running diagnostics after installation requires a ton of incredibly specialized tools that most homeowners don’t have lying around their garage. Buying these tools is often prohibitively expensive—especially since you may only end up using them once every 20 years!

Warranty

Most manufacturers protect their systems with a warranty. Needless to say, they instantly void that coverage if the system is being installed by an unlicensed professional.

Performance

Many long-term air conditioner issues can be traced back to incorrect installation. If you attempt to install your own air conditioner, you could be setting yourself up for years of trouble.

In most cases, the cost of installation is just a small part of your overall cost. It’s often worth it to just have an HVAC professional do it right. Otherwise, you’re probably going to have to call them out to your home to redo your work.

Start with a free in-home estimate

If you’re considering adding a new air conditioner to your home, but you’re not sure what it’ll cost you, your first step should be to talk to licensed HVAC professionals in your area.

Here in Albuquerque, Wagner is your team. We offer free in-home estimates on new systems. Our goal: to find the perfect air conditioner for you, your home, and your budget.