As industry leaders providing quality air conditioning, heating, and indoor air quality services to the Greater Austin area since 1977, McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning knows how confusing it can be for homeowners when it comes to replacing their AC system. In order to make sure you fully understand the many factors that could affect the price to replace your home’s air conditioning system, we've whipped together this handy blog to guide you through your purchase. Take a peek!
What factors affect the cost of replacing your home’s air conditioning system?
Type of system
While there are several different types of air conditioners you can buy with a fairly broad range regarding costs you will face, the two main systems we recommend include:
- Central air conditioners – A central AC system is made up of an indoor unit, an outdoor unit, and ductwork to help cool your entire home in the summer.
- Mini-split (or ductless) air conditioners – Mini-split air conditioners typically work best in older homes where ductwork can’t be easily added or for those who wish to have a single area where air conditioning runs through. If you’re looking to cool your entire home, ductless AC systems may be more economical to operate but may be more expensive than central AC systems (excluding ductwork).
As most products in the market, size/capacity inherently affects exactly how much you’ll be expected to cough up. When it comes to air conditioning units, size is expressed in tons. Generally speaking, larger air conditioning units tend to be more costly, as they have more capacity and can serve a larger area.
In order to determine which size unit is right for your home, your air conditioning contractor will need to perform a heat load analysis (or Manual J load calculation). These calculations take into account all aspects of your in-home environment, including the square footage of your home, window size and location, construction materials, wall construction and orientation, ceiling heights, flooring, appliances, insulation and more.
The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficient Rating (SEER), the more energy efficient (and costly) the unit will be. The minimum efficiency air conditioner you can buy in Austin, Texas is a 14-SEER unit, but can also go as high as 26-SEER. Similar to miles-per-gallon for your vehicle: the higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit.
Surely, we know how important it is to do your research and make sure you’re getting the best deal you can find in Austin, but keep in mind: you often get what you pay for. While it is true that a smaller, one- to two-person contractor might be able to charge less for nearly every service they offer, a vast majority of air conditioning contractors in the area go out of business within five to eight years.
Before selecting a contractor, it is important to ask, “will this contractor be able to come back right away when I encounter any problems?” Put yourself in a small contractor’s shoes: If you were slammed with installs during the peak season, how likely would you stop what you’re doing to service a system you installed five years ago?
Look for qualified HVAC companies that…
- Have 10+ years of experience
- Have a good reputation for quality work
- Include labor warranties as part of the installation
- Offer quality control biannual inspection plans
- Register equipment for their customers, as this is now required by most manufacturers
- File energy-saving rebates for their customers
- Support North American Technical Excellence (NATE) best practices and their knowledge certification program
- Support the Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA)
For more tips on what to look for in a professional contractor, please visit the ACCA Homeowners page.
Other additional items
The cost of your air conditioning system replacement can be affected by other additional factors, including:
- Duct repair/replacement – If you're experiencing uneven home cooling, higher than normal energy bills, or an uncontrollable amount of dust in your home, you might have some leaky ducts that may need to be repaired or replaced.
- Zoning – Zoning allows you to control the temperature of individual areas within your home. Sometimes, an entire family can't agree upon a specific, comfortable temperature to sleep at night and a zoning system could be the perfect solution to that problem.
- Smart thermostats – Want access to your thermostat from your smartphone? Smart thermostats are a great way to control your home's temperature while you are away and save hundreds on energy bills annually.
How can I get a good deal on my AC system replacement?
For the best deal on your new air conditioning system, purchase in either late fall or springtime when contractors tend to be less busy and manufacturers are typically offering their best rebates. Take advantage of rebates and tax credits from Austin Energy and combine it with those manufacturer rebates for the biggest savings. For example, you can receive up to $5,550 in rebates and tax credits, plus 5-year 0% financing with our Beat the Heat promotion from now to May 31st!
How do I know if the price I was quoted is fair?
Try and call around to schedule two to three appointments for quotes from different contractors in the Austin area on the estimated cost to replace your home air conditioning system. Since this is the third largest investment you’ll make (following your home and your vehicle), you want to be certain that the deal you're getting and the contractor you choose to work with is reputable and trustworthy. We even recommend that you download the Residential Quality HVAC Installation Checklist from ACCA and using it to help you rate and select your contractor.
If you already have a quote on a new air conditioning system and want to know if it's the best deal you can get, feel free to reach out to us and we'll be happy to give you a free second opinion!
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