HVAC Costs

HVAC installations (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) include various types of equipment that provide various levels of home comfort.

The cost to install average HVAC depends upon type, unit cooling/heating capacity and zone coverage, comfort expectation, control upgrades, efficiency rating, preparation and special needs, and the labor rate.

Type and cost summary

In the following table the Cost figure is based on average HVAC for whole-house coverage ranging from 1200 sq.ft. to 1,600 sq.ft.; and includes transport, material, equipment, and waste.

TypeProsConsCost
Ventilating fans (5)Lowest cost comfortLimited comfort$990

Flexible locationBreezy indoors
Evaporative coolingLow cost comfortLimited regions$1,146

Filtered airBreezy indoors
Air-conditioning (A/C)Flexible locationHigher costs$3,598

High comfortPlus ducts
HeatingFlexible locationPlus ducts$4,695

High comfort


Other considerations and costs

  • Window and portable models may require no professional installation.
  • Always understand the energy consumption needs of any equipment you choose.
  • If the installation requires a new opening of a wood-framed exterior wall, that work will cost from about $55 to $75 per square foot of rough opening, depending mostly upon local labor rate. Masonry work is yet more expensive.
  • Multi-phase electrical circuitry is generally required for units of greater than 12,000 BTU’s per hour, or 5 horsepower, or 3.500 kilowatts.
  • For sunny rooms, choose A/C with 10% more BTU’s than required for room size.
  • For rooms that regularly contain more than two people, add 600 BTU’s per person to what the room size alone requires in A/C capacity.
  • For kitchens A/C, select a unit with 4,000 more BTU’s than required for room size.
  • Evaporative coolers require a dry and arid climate in order to perform as desired. Under those conditions, they can lower room temperatures by 15º to 20º F and consume 75% less electricity than the equivalent A/C unit.
  • During the initial inspection the contractor should inform the homeowner of any and all necessary modification or upgrade on electrical circuits or building structure.
  • There may be local subsidy or grant for the upgrade of energy efficiency.
  • The professional installer may charge an additional displacement fee or minimum-job charge.
  • Taxes and permit fees are not included. 

DIY considerations

  • Window units and portable units are especially appropriate for DIY savings if a proper electrical outlet is already in place near the window.
  • Some ventilation and evaporative cooling units are also DIY friendly.
  • Other units that require structural modifications of the building, or more extensive installations throughout the building, or new electrical circuitry are much more appropriate for professional service.

Cost to install HVAC in my city

Cost to install HVAC varies greatly by region. To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.