The average price range for heat pump installation ranges from $1,780 – $3,630.A heat pump provides both heat and air conditioning from one unit as opposed to having a separate furnace, boiler or an electric baseboard heater system and an air conditioner. Heat pump systems are popular choices due to their high-energy efficiency ratings. If you have concerns about lowering your utility bills, you should take a closer look at your heat pump system options.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a heat pump can cut a heating system's electricity in half compared with electric-resistance heating such as baseboard heaters. Heat pump systems are better at dehumidifying the air than standard central air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and a more comfortable indoor environment in summer months.
What's in this cost guide?
- Types of heat pumps
- What affects the heat pump installation cost?
- Single vs. two-stage
- How can I save money on heat pump installation?
There are four main types of heat pumps: geothermal, air-to-air, water-to-air, and mini-splits.
Geothermal (also known as ground source): Geothermal heat pumps use the natural heat storage ability of the earth, which stays at about 50 degrees year-round. It works like this: a loop of pipe is buried in the backyard and filled with water that's circulated by a pump. The water is then brought to the surface and the warmth is transferred to the heat pump that warms the air. The warm air is then distributed from the outdoor unit through the home's ductwork, heating the air inside the home. During the summer, the system works in reverse to cool the air inside the home.
Air-to-Air (also known as air-source): An air source heat pump system absorbs heat from the outside air and moves it to the indoor unit, heating the inside of the home. Because this pump moves heat (as opposed to the combustion-based system) it's more fuel-efficient. Air source heat pumps can be either ducted or ductless.
Water-to-Air (also known as water-source): Water-to-air systems work similarly to an air-to-air pump but extracts and dissipates heat using a pipe system surrounded by water instead of air. Easy access to a natural body of water or a well is needed for this type of system to work.
Mini-splits (also known as air-to-air): A mini-split system is an excellent choice for ductless heat pump applications or to supplement an existing HVAC system. Kevin Granados of East Bay Heating and Air says that installation of a mini-split style heat pump to a ductless system usually requires modifications to the electrical system. Installation can typically run $1,000 – $1,500 to have an electrician install in the necessary wiring.
HVAC systems are matched to the size of the house by measuring their cooling capacity in “tons." One ton is equal to the amount of heat required to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period. Tons are measured in British thermal units (Btu). A one-ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 Btu per hour. A two-ton unit would be rated at 24,000 Btu per hour. Typical residential HVAC units provide up to 5-tons of cooling.
The cost of the heat pump itself varies by manufacturer and quality of the unit, ranging from as low as $550 up to $3,000 for some heat pump brands.
Heat pump installation, for an air-source or water-source heat pump and including the unit and necessary materials, ranges from $5,000 to $8,000 for a 3-ton unit, depending on the manufacturer and quality of the unit.
Here are some additional elements to keep in mind when you're pricing out heat pump installation costs.
Single vs. two-stage
Air-source heat pumps come in single- and two-stage (also called variable-speed) models, which provide the benefit of operating at variable speeds to lower electricity usage. Two-stage heat pumps cost about $250 more than single-stage units.
Since geothermal heat pumps require excavation, installation can cost anywhere from $1,500 – $3,000, but they are much more efficient. Prices for the units vary their heating and cooling capacity.
Cooling efficiency is indicated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which is the total heat removed from the conditioned space during the warm months, expressed in Btu. The number is then divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump during the same season, given in watt-hours. Units with a better Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and SEER typically cost more and are highly efficient. Compared to a furnace, which is inefficient and requires an extensive ventilation system, a high SEER-rated heat pump has extremely high efficiency for heating and air conditioning and is well worth the investment. Heat pump units are also rated for how much noise they make while running, expressed in decibels.
While it may seem daunting, there are a few ways you can ensure that you're getting the most for your money when looking to install a heat pump in your home. Here are some of our best tips!
Do your homework: What is the SEER on the unit? How loud will it be when it's running? Single-stage or two-stage? Duct or ductless? Do you have an existing HVAC? What will happen to your old furnace? Doing the research and knowing the answers to these questions prior to contacting a professional will help the heat pump shopping process run smoothly.
Get multiple quotes: Besides knowing the price of the unit itself, ask about the cost of installation. Be sure to gather multiple quotes for both the equipment and installation costs in your zip code. Many HVAC specialists will even provide free estimates. This technique may save you big bucks in the long run!
Don't be afraid to ask questions: Whether you're confused about how the air conditioning works, aren't sure what to do with your old furnace, are curious about the ductwork required, or simply don't know what an HVAC is, don't be afraid to ask lots of questions! HVAC technicians are professionals with tons of knowledge and experience, and they can explain the ins and outs of the different systems to find which one works best for your home.
Evaluating, sizing, buying and installing any kind of HVAC system including heat pumps is a complex decision. Do your homework, get more than one quote and don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Experience year-round efficiency with a new heat pump system in your home!