HVAC Replacement: How Does HVAC System Type Determine Costs?

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorNovember 20, 2023
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Heat pump

Having choices in life can help us find exactly what we’re looking for. However, when replacing an HVAC system, the range of available options – including the HVAC system type, make and model, efficiency rating, and size – can sometimes make the buying process challenging for homeowners.

HVAC.com is here to help simplify the HVAC buying process for you. Whether you’re considering a new furnace, heat pump, central air conditioner, or another heating and cooling option, this blog will shed light on how the HVAC system type you select plays a vital role in determining the final cost.

Once you find the right type of residential HVAC system and receive a quote for service, QuoteScore from HVAC.com can analyze it to ensure you’re receiving a fair deal. HVAC.com’s team of industry insiders can score your quote and tell you what’s good, what’s not, and recommend clear next steps.


Furnaces have served as a reliable heating source for decades, especially for homes in Northern States that require a strong, consistent heating source. Furnaces can use various fuels to generate heat, including propane, oil, electricity, and, most commonly, natural gas.

A forced-air furnace heats the air directly within the system. The furnace’s heat exchanger transfers heat from the combustion process to the indoor air while preventing combustion gas from leaking out and escaping into the living space.

Natural gas and propane furnaces are generally more cost-effective to install, especially if your home has the necessary infrastructure already in place. Electric furnaces tend to be less efficient and can lead to higher long-term operating costs.

A new furnace costs between $2,000 to $5,000, according to ThePricer.org. The cost is dependent on factors including its fuel source, make and model, capacity, efficiency rating, and additional features such as variable-speed motors, zoning capabilities, and HVAC add-ons including whole-house dehumidifiers and air cleaners.

If you live in a climate with warm summers, you’ll need to pair your furnace with a cooling system such as a central air conditioner, heat pump, or ductless mini-split.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have steadily grown in popularity due to their unique capabilities. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, heat pumps offer both heating and cooling for year-round comfort.

Heat pumps operate similarly to central air conditioners during the warmer months, using refrigerant to remove warm indoor air and releasing it outdoors through the compressor. It’s how they operate during the colder months that really sets them apart. Even when it’s cold outside, there’s enough heat in the outside air to provide warmth. The unit’s refrigerant extracts the heat from the outside to provide indoor heating.

Heat pumps are enticing for a few reasons. Firstly, in mild winter climates such as the South and Southwest, heat pumps can eliminate the need for buying a furnace-air conditioner combo, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

The average cost of a new residential heat pump is $2,500 to $7,500, with factors such as energy efficiency, capacity, and advanced features affecting the overall price.

However, through the federal government’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, all homeowners are eligible for a 30% tax credit on the purchase and installation of a new heat pump system, up to $2,000. Even steeper discounts are available in many states through the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act (HEEHRA). If your household income falls below 80% of the median income for your area, you’re eligible for 100% off the cost of a heat pump, up to $,8000. For households with income ranging from 81% to 150% of the local median, you can benefit from a rebate that covers up to 50% of the heat pump’s expenses.

Geothermal heat pumps are also eligible for tax credits and qualifying rebates. Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient residential HVAC system type on the market, which is reflected in their price. Expect to pay $10,000 to $25,000 for the installation of a geothermal heat pump. You can offset some of the higher costs over time through reduced energy bills and a longer-lasting system, as geothermal heat pumps often last 25-50 years.

Ductless Mini-Splits

Ductless mini-splits are a type of heat pump that can also provide both heating and cooling, with one major difference – they don’t require ductwork to distribute conditioned air across homes. Instead, they use an outdoor condenser unit and one or more indoor air handling units installed on ceilings or walls. The indoor and outdoor units are connected by a conduit that contains the refrigerant tubing, condensate drain line, and suction tubing.

Although multiple ductless mini-splits can be connected to the outdoor unit to provide heating and cooling to several areas of a home, they are most typically installed in areas that aren’t connected to the existing HVAC system such as basements and attics, new additions, and sunrooms or bonus rooms above garages that are difficult to keep comfortable.

The average cost of a ductless mini-split system is $1,000 to $4,000. The price can vary significantly based on the number of zones, as well as the energy-efficiency rating, capacity, and additional features.

Homeowners can get the most bang for their buck by utilizing ductless mini-splits in a home that doesn’t have existing ductwork which is expensive to install. Installing a ductless mini-split in a new addition or an area without existing ductwork is also more cost-effective than installing new ductwork and connecting it to the existing system.

Central Air Conditioners

Like forced-air furnaces, central air conditioners have kept millions of Americans comfortable on hot summer days for decades. Central air conditioners are often favored for their exceptional cooling performance, especially in hot areas of the country such as the Southwest, by providing quick and efficient relief from high temperatures.

If you’re looking for an affordable cooling solution, central air conditioners are often cheaper than heat pumps, although they typically have higher energy costs. In climates that experience warm summers and cold winters including the Midwest and Northeast, pairing a central air conditioner with a forced-air furnace is often the best option for efficiency and comfort.

Expect to pay between $2,500 and $7,500 for a new central air conditioning system. Factors including the system’s SEER rating, capacity, and make and model can all impact the overall cost of a central AC.

Portable and window air conditioners, meanwhile, are popular alternatives to cool smaller spaces.


Many homeowners often associate boilers with older, less energy-efficient HVAC systems. However, newer boilers are highly efficient. Boilers work by heating water to produce steam, which is then circulated through a network of pipes and radiators to provide heat within a home.

Boilers are known for their high efficiency and consistent heat output, making them a reliable choice for a heating system. They can also provide hot water for various domestic purposes.

The average price of a residential boiler runs between $2,500 and $6,000. As with other different types of HVAC systems, the size, efficiency rating, and brand all affect the price.

What HVAC System Type Is Right for Your Home?

Determining the right type of residential HVAC system for your home depends on your personal preferences, budget, and the climate you live in. If you’re unsure what HVAC system type to buy, consult with a qualified HVAC technician who can give you suggestions based on your home comfort needs.

Ask about the pros and cons of each type of HVAC system and any available discounts, rebates, or tax credits. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for an energy-efficient way to heat and cool your home, a heat pump might be the right choice. However, if you live in an extremely hot or cold part of the country, you could benefit from the powerful, efficient heating and cooling a forced-air furnace and central air conditioner provides.

Before agreeing to an HVAC quote and hiring a company for HVAC installation, QuoteScore can analyze it to tell you what’s good, what’s bad, and what to do next.

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