By Nina Kulenkampff
The national average cost to install a new heat pump costs anywhere from $1,375-$8,169. How much you'll pay will ultimately depend on what type of heat pump you have, its capacity, its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, and many other factors.
Heat pump replacement cost:
Replace heat pump wall unit
Replace heat pump exterior coil unit (13 SEER)
Replace heat pump exterior coil unit (14 SEER)
Replace heat pump exterior coil unit (15 SEER)
All prices in the table above are national averages, and include the cost of labor and materials.
If you think you're paying too much to cool and heat your home, a heat pump might be a better option for you. Heat pumps are praised for being energy-efficient, and they can help homeowners lower their utility bills and energy costs. "Depending on the size of your home, local climate, and how energy efficient your home is, savings can average over $500 per year," states the Department of Energy.
Read on to learn more about factors that could impact the cost of your new heat pump system.
What's in this cost guide?
Typically powered by electricity, a heat pump is a sustainable, energy-efficient alternative to traditional HVAC systems, furnaces, and air conditioners. Traditional HVAC systems generate hot or cold air — but heat pumps transfer air instead.
The most common type of heat pump is an air-source heat pump. In heating mode, it takes the heat from the outside air and distributes it throughout your home (usually through your duct system). In cooling mode, it removes heat from the air inside your house and pushes it outdoors.
Other types of heat pumps include:
- Geothermal heat pumps. These are also referred to as ground-source or water-source heat pumps. Instead of pulling heat from the outside air, they transfer heat from the ground or a water source that's nearby.
- Air-to-water heat pumps work similarly to air-source heat pumps, but they transfer heat through a hot-water radiator system instead of ducts.
- Absorption or gas-fired heat pumps. These heat pumps utilize natural gas or propane instead of electricity. However, heat pumps that rely on solar-heated water or geothermal-heated water are also referred to as absorption heat pumps.
When choosing a heat pump, you'll likely consider one of the common air-source types: ducted and ductless units.
Ducted heat pumps exchange cold or hot air between your house and the outside. They can also transfer heat from water or the ground. These systems contain several components: an outdoor compressor/condenser, an indoor air-handling unit, and a conduit that connects the outdoor and indoor units. They distribute and transfer the heated or cool air through a duct system in your home.
Ductless heat pumps (also referred to as mini-split heat pumps) source heat from the outside air and distribute it throughout the home as well. However, ducts aren't required for distribution. Instead, these pumps only need a 3-inch hole in the wall in order to connect the outdoor and indoor units. This makes ductless heat pumps easier to install than ducted heat pumps.
A ductless system works well for homeowners who want to heat or cool only a section or room instead of the entire home. These mini-split heat pumps also tend to be more energy-efficient than ducted systems because you don't have to deal with energy losses due to the duct system.
"Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic," according to the Department of Energy.
When choosing a heat pump for your home, be sure you ask your HVAC contractor for quotes for the types you're interested in.
HVAC professionals will consider several factors to determine the cost of replacing your heat pump. Here are a few of the most common factors that can drive prices up and down:
Labor costs and fees.
The project's labor cost depends on factors like how long it will take to install the heat pump and labor rates in your area. Some pros may also have a minimum labor fee. When contacting pros for quotes, ask them to explain how they calculate their labor costs.
Material and equipment costs.
When making a quote, HVAC technicians often consider the price of equipment, tools, and other materials needed for installing your heat pump.
Type of heat pump.
Of course, different types of heat pumps — mini-splits, ducted, etc. — will have different price points. You'll need to factor in the cost of the actual unit, as well as any other components you'll need to install (like ductwork).
You might need to upgrade or modify your home's electrical system to accommodate the heat pump. Unless you are qualified to do electrical work, we highly recommend hiring a pro for this step.
If you want to go with a ducted air-source heat pump, you need to make sure your ducts are up to par. Have a pro inspect your ducts to identify leaks and other potential issues. In some cases, you may need to pay for repairs. Worst-case scenario: you need to replace your ducts, which can get pricey.
Removal of existing HVAC components.
You will need to pay to have any old or existing HVAC components removed and disposed of responsibly, which may add to the cost.
SEER and HSPF efficiency ratings.
During the cooling season, a heat pump's efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy is utilized by a heat pump unit. Energy efficiency during the heating season is measured by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF).
Higher SEER and HSPF ratings typically equate with a higher upfront price. However, a more energy-efficient unit may save you money in the long run on your utility bills. So, it could be worth the cost.
The higher the heat pump's capacity, the more you'll likely pay to install a new heat pump. Here's a look at the cost of installing through-the-wall heat pumps with a 2, 4, and 5 ton capacity:
National average cost range
All prices in the table above include the cost of labor and materials.
Manufacturer and model.
Many heat pump brands and manufacturers offer a variety of price ranges for different models. Obviously, a top-of-the-line model will likely cost more than others. Do a bit of research and compare reviews of different units before deciding which one to buy.
Some of the most well-known heat pump manufacturers include:
- American Standard
- MR COOL
Do you need help choosing a reputable manufacturer and model for your home? Don't hesitate to ask your HVAC technician for their opinion.
Permits and fees.
Permits and fees might be required for HVAC system replacements and installations in your area. Contact your city to find out if a permit is required (and if there are any fees you will be responsible for).
Regardless of the size of your budget, there are ways to save money when installing and using a heat pump system. For example:
- Look for deals and discounts. If you're not too picky about buying a product in immaculate condition, you may find discounted units that are "scratched or dented" but still work perfectly fine. A thorough online search might help you find a really good deal.
- Keep tabs on sales. You may find the heat pump you need at a reduced rate if retailers and manufacturers run specials on holidays like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
- Negotiate. After you receive several quotes, you can try to use them to negotiate with the pro you want to hire. They may be willing to lower their cost if other top-rated pros in the area are offering fairer prices.
- Choose a unit that's the appropriate size. Work with your contractor to ensure you're installing a heat pump that's the proper size. If it's too small, you may end up facing higher utility bills because it's working too hard. If it's too big, it may produce more energy than you need — which is a waste of money.
- Consider the unit's efficiency rating. While the upfront cost of a more energy-efficient heat pump may be higher than you'd like, prioritizing energy efficiency can reduce your electricity bills in the long run.
- Research ENERGY STAR units. Opting for an energy-efficient heat pump with an ENERGY STAR label may also allow you to take advantage of tax benefits. There are tax credits and incentives to encourage people to invest in heat pumps rather than traditional furnaces or boilers.
Installing a heat pump can cost more than installing an air conditioner, but it could save you money in the future. According to Carbon Switch, "heat pumps can save you $10,000 over 15 years." For the average American homeowner, that's a savings of $670 per year.
Installing a heat pump isn't cheap. But it may be worth the cost, depending on your priorities and needs.
The main benefits of installing a heat pump are:
- Energy efficiency. Research and studies have shown you can save hundreds of dollars a year on energy costs by using a heat pump.
- Year-round comfort. Although "heat" is in the name, heat pumps can also cool your home.
- Potential tax rebates and incentives. Currently, you can claim up to $2,000 for heat pumps purchased and installed between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2032, according to ENERGY STAR.
- Environmental benefits. It's estimated that heat pumps could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by around 500 million tonnes in 2030 alone. That's the equivalent of the emissions all cars in Europe put out in one day.
Before you take on this project, it's worth getting free estimates from professionals. They can give you more accurate pricing for your project.
A pro can also explain which factors will impact the cost of installing your new heat pump. Remember: some of the most important factors include the heat pump's size, the type of heat pump you choose, whether you need new ductwork, and more.
If you're ready to start the installation process, download the Thumbtack app today to connect with professionals near you. Give them details about your house and project, and schedule an on-site consultation.
Does a heat pump replace an air conditioner?
A heat pump can replace the air conditioner in your home. A heat pump can cool your home or room by removing the heat from the air and distributing it to the outdoors.
How many years does a heat pump last?
A well-maintained heat pump can last an average of 10-15 years. That's longer than a central air conditioner, which generally lasts 7-15 years.
You can increase your heat pump's life expectancy by choosing a high-quality unit and making sure you keep up with maintenance. By regularly maintaining and servicing your unit, you can spot issues early and avoid paying for expensive repairs down the line.
What size heat pump do I need?
When working out your heat pump budget, it's best to get free estimates from a professional. They can calculate exactly what size unit you need to heat or cool your space — whether it's your entire home, a room, the attic, the basement, etc.
Getting a heat pump that is too small will not adequately (or efficiently) heat or cool your room. It will also work too hard, causing your energy costs to rise.
On the other hand, installing an oversized heat pump may cause technical difficulties, resulting in poor functionality of the unit. Not to mention, a heat pump that's too large could be wasting energy.
Does a heat pump increase home value?
Installing a heat pump may increase your home's value, according to some studies.
"Homeowners with heat pumps can expect a 4.3 to 7.1 percent increase in their home’s value," reports Apartment Therapy, which cited a 2020 study.
All project cost estimates included in this article were provided by Xactware’s pricing data (unless otherwise noted). For more information, visit Xactware’s pricing methodology page.
*A note about project costs featured in this article: Figures represent national average cost estimates using data provided by Thumbtack pros and additional research. These figures are provided for educational purposes only and are subject to change at any time due to various factors. Details about your specific project and local rates can impact costs.