Types and Prices – Forbes Advisor

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Buying a new HVAC system is one of the most important purchases you can make for your home. Consumer reports indicate: that over 75% of US homes use air conditioning and 90% of new homes are equipped with central air. An efficient HVAC system provides a comfortable environment in which to work, relax and enjoy your home.

It can be intimidating to gather all the right information about HVAC systems. With the amount of information available online, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and confused about HVAC systems.

To help you, we’ve created a guide to buying HVAC systems to help you make an informed purchase decision.

What is an HVAC System?

HVAC refers to technology that makes it possible to control the atmosphere of a home. HVAC is an abbreviation for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. With HVAC systems, users have proper control over a space’s heating and cooling temperatures. They are also commonly known by the names of some common components: ductless AC units, water heaters, central air conditioners, heat pumps, or furnaces.

Types of HVAC Systems

There are four main types of HVAC systems: split systems, hybrid systems, ductless systems, and packaged heating and air systems. You have to choose what is most suitable for your home and budget.

  • Split system: “Split” between two main units or systems (one for cooling and one for heating), most common with the HVAC systems
  • Hybrid system: Advanced version of the split system, the main difference is that it has improved the energy efficiency because it is equipped with a hybrid electric heating system
  • Channelless System: consists of an outdoor air conditioner for cooling and a heat pump for cooling and heating, suitable for homes where conventional duct systems cannot be used
  • Packaged system: provides high quality heating and cooling combined in one unit, typically used in homes without basements and usually installed outdoors

HVAC System Factors to Consider

Home comfort: temperature and air quality

You should always consider how different heating and cooling units will affect your indoor temperature, energy consumption and air quality. For example, did you know that choosing elements like UV light in your HVAC system can raise your EPA indoor air quality score? A little research will help you address airborne particulate matter and identify the best HVAC unit for reducing humidity.


HVAC systems have improved over the years. As a result, there are rating systems that determine their efficiency. View system ratings, such as Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), HSPF, AFUE, and EER. For example, the SEER rating must be at least 15.


Your new HVAC system must be able to effectively heat and cool the space in your home. The capacity of an HVAC system is measured by BTUs (British Thermal Units). In general, the higher the BTU rating, the greater the capacity.

Programmable Thermostat Compatibility

Make sure the system you buy is compatible with a modern programmable thermostat. This allows you to control your heating and cooling almost anywhere. Plus, you can save money on your utility bill by turning the systems on or off when you’re not using them. It also extends the life of your HVAC system. Some units can be controlled via a wire to other parts of a home, while the most modern can be controlled via a smartphone from anywhere the phone receives service.

Maintenance requirements

HVAC systems require regular maintenance for optimal performance, so buy a low-maintenance, cost-effective system. When negotiating your installation, you should also negotiate a service plan that combines regular inspections with discounts on repairs and a labor guarantee in the total price.


Depending on the type and where it is installed, an HVAC system can be quite noisy. Consult with your HVAC contractor to ensure the unit you choose is appropriate for your home and your noise tolerance levels.


When choosing the right HVAC system, your goal should be to provide your home with a comfortable temperature, even if it is more expensive than others. While you should buy an HVAC unit based on your budget, you should also consider other factors such as energy efficiency and durability.

The cheapest option is not always the best quality and will rarely be the most efficient – also remember that the money saved in energy and repair costs by buying the right size and a better quality appliance should weigh in every purchase decision.

HVAC System Cost by Type

The average cost will depend on the brand purchased, the size of a home, and the HVAC installation costs charged by the contractor. An HVAC is a complex system that consists of many different parts. You may be making a full replacement or just getting a new one for your existing unit. In any case, it helps to know the system costs for different parts.

A central air conditioner works to keep your entire home cool by circulating air over cooled coils. The cost of installing an air conditioner is approximately between $3,350 and $5,950. On the other hand, a heat pump transports air from a cooler area to a warmer area using thermal energy. A conventional heat pump will cost you approx $4,000 to $8,000, while a geothermal pump can cost about five times as much, about $15,000 to $35,000.

A furnace is a heating system that uses a type of fuel to heat an entire building. A gas stove costs on average € $1,800 to $4,000, an oil oven between $4,200 and $6,900, while an electric oven ranges from $1,600 to $2,500. On the other hand, a boiler works to heat a house with hot water forced through pipes. It costs average $1,500 to $3,500.

How to choose the right HVAC system for you?

Size system

Make sure you buy the correct sizing system for your home. Older homes may not have the correct sizing system. Oversized equipment runs too often, shortening its life. It will also not provide the same level of comfort and indoor air quality as a properly sized system.

Your contractor or HVAC technician should tell you what sizing system your home needs, as the calculations required often include many factors, including tree coverage, sun exposure and insulation, in addition to square footage and ceiling height.

High efficiency

Buy the most efficient HVAC equipment you can afford that fits your home. While a standard efficiency system and a high efficiency system may have the same component of labor, the high efficiency will prove to be more cost effective in the long run.


Choosing the best HVAC contractor is a very crucial factor that affects the quality of the system. An HVAC system must be designed, adapted and manufactured for every home. A good HVAC contractor will evaluate your entire system, including ductwork and indoor air quality requirements. They will cater to your individual needs and make recommendations that best suit you, your home and your lifestyle.

Make sure your contractor is properly licensed in his field. Be sure to sign a consumer contract for home improvements. Your agreement must include both the start and completion dates and include an agreement on who pays what should the contract be bid too high.

Indoor Air Quality Components (IAQ)

IAQ components such as humidifiers and high-efficiency air filtration systems are common additions to HVAC systems. Most contractors discount these additional items when installing a new system. Ask about add-ons from your contractor.


Spend some time comparing manufacturers’ and contractors’ warranties. A warranty can save you a lot of time and headaches if something breaks. Often, at least some parts and repairs are covered by a standard warranty when buying new. If you’re flipping a home or planning to sell a home or space, buy warranties that are transferable.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a New HVAC System Worth It?

A new HVAC may be worth the investment if your current system is inefficient. Finding an HVAC system with greater than 80% efficiency will save you money and maintenance costs later on. It would also cut your electricity bill by up to 20%.

How long does an HVAC system last?

A typical HVAC system should last between 15 and 25 years if properly installed and maintained. If you want your HVAC system to last as long as possible, be sure to perform general maintenance on it twice a year.

What’s in a new HVAC system?

There are three main parts in the whole system. First, the heating element, which usually refers to a furnace or boiler. It consists of a piping system for the heat transfer fluid or piping if you are working with a forced air system. Second, the ventilation element is natural or forced. When forced, more often than not it is used for air cleaning purposes. The last element is air conditioning.

How do I get the best deal on a new HVAC system?

Start by figuring out what’s needed. If possible, request at least three quotes. This way you can assess what a fair price is. Remember that the best deal may not be the one with the lowest price tag.

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