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Everything You Need to Know About the Cost of a Heat Pump

Heat pump outside a home in winter - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

As you shop for a new heating and cooling system for your Cincinnati area home, you probably wonder, “How much do heat pumps cost?” Price is a big factor in homeowner purchase decisions, so it’s important to know what goes into the price you pay and how each factor affects the final cost. Our HVAC pros discuss how much do heat pumps cost and what you get for the price you pay.

What’s Included in a Heat Pump’s Price?

When your HVAC contractor provides you with a quote for a new heat pump, how much do heat pumps cost includes not just the equipment, but the installation of it. A homeowner is typically unable to purchase just a heat pump unit from an HVAC contractor, instead you purchase equipment through the contractor and hire them to perform the skilled labor needed to place the system into use at your home. It requires specialized knowledge and skills to install a heat pump, which is why you want a professional to do the job. 

When you get an estimate for how much do heat pumps cost, the price differs from one home to the next. This is because installation can involve many aspects. You may buy the exact same heat pump as your neighbor but pay a different total price because your installation needs are greater. Heat pump installation involves more than just hooking up the new unit.

Matching Air Handlers to Heat Pumps

Heat pump refers to the actual equipment that sits outside your home – that’s the heat pump. It connects to a piece of equipment housed indoors, called the air handler, which is home to the blower motor and evaporator coils. These two pieces of equipment make up your forced air heating and cooling system. A forced air system is simply one that pushes conditioned air into living areas using the system’s blower.

It’s best practice to install matched equipment and install both a new indoor unit and outdoor unit at the same time. For this reason, how much do heat pumps cost doesn’t concern just the heat pump itself. When the air handler and heat pump are properly matched, the HVAC system delivers better performance, energy efficiency, and equipment longevity than an unmatched system. 

You don’t want to simply upgrade your heat pump and leave your old air handler in service. It is hard to match new equipment with older equipment, because technology changes very quickly in the HVAC industry to offer better efficiency and a greater user experience. With an unmatched system, your new heat pump is unable to deliver the efficiency and performance you expect from your investment.

Ductwork Improvements

Forced air HVAC systems, heat pump systems included, move conditioned air from the equipment through ductwork and into your home. If your home did not have a forced air heating and cooling system before, a new duct system must be installed when you upgrade to a heat pump system. In homes with existing ducts, sometimes improvements like duct renovation or duct sealing are needed in order to allow the new equipment to perform at its best. Updates and other elements needed to accommodate heat pump installation impact how much do heat pumps cost.

How Much Do Heat Pumps Cost?

Let’s face it, the price tag of a new HVAC system has a great impact on your purchase decision. For the equipment alone, a new heat pump has a cost between several hundred dollars and a couple thousand dollars – air handlers typically cost between $1,000 to $2,000. Why such a wide price range? We discuss the factors that impact heat pump equipment cost later on in this article.

Remember, how much do heat pumps cost when you have them installed by an HVAC contractor includes connecting the system, setting it up, and any other work needs to accommodate the new system. Once your contractor finishes the job, you have everything you need to operate a reliable heating and cooling system.

How much do heat pumps cost to have installed runs homeowners anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars. On average, homeowners invest approximately $5,000 for heat pump installation. Both the cost of equipment and the cost of installation labor are included in this total price.

Heat Pump Pricing Factors

Price greatly varies from one heat pump model to the next, as several factors have a direct effect on how much do heat pumps cost. Even though equipment prices have such variation, there are equipment options available on both ends of the spectrum as well as in between. Keeping your home improvement budget in mind, your HVAC contractor helps you find the right heat pump equipment that offers the features and performance you want at an affordable price.

The elements that affect how much do heat pumps cost include:

  • Heat pump type
  • Unit capacity
  • Unit energy efficiency
  • Equipment brand

Heat Pump Type

Homeowners have options when it comes to the type of heat pump system they use: air-source or geothermal.

 

  • An air-source heat pump exchanges heat between two sources of air – the air inside and outside your home.
  • A geothermal heat pump exchanges heat between the air inside your home and a natural source. Geothermal heat pumps are either ground-source or water-source. Ground-source heat pumps use the ground below or nearby a home to exchange energy, while water-source heat pumps use a pond or other nearby body of water on the property.

 

The type of heat pump system has a big effect on how much do heat pumps cost. Geothermal systems are more expensive in multiple ways. Firstly, the geothermal heat pump itself costs more, typically a few thousand dollars. These systems also require a network of buried piping called a ground loop for heat exchange, which costs several thousands of dollars to install. For equipment and installation of a geothermal system, homeowners typically pay $10,000 or more.

Air-source heat pump equipment and installation cost considerably less. The price you pay for this type of system is typically half the cost of geothermal system installation or less.

Unit Capacity

The size of heat pump you need in your home depends on the amount of BTUs (British Thermal Units) required to heat and cool your living areas. That amount is called a heating or cooling load, and multiple aspects of your house and household determine it, such as the size and space of the living areas, how well insulated the home is, how many windows and doors there are as well as their exposure, and the number of people living inside the home.

Capacity is measured in tons, and one ton is equal to 12,000 BTUs. Heat pump as well as air conditioner capacity is noted in tons – it’s not the actual weight of the equipment. If a heat pump is 4 tons, it is able to produce 48,000 BTUs.

How much do heat pumps cost is impacted by a unit’s capacity. In general, heat pumps with a greater capacity have a higher cost than those with lower capacities. 

Heat pumps must be specifically sized for your home – you should not pick a smaller size to save money. Purposefully undersizing your new heat pump is not worth the problems it causes. If your heat pump is too small, it is unable to keep the home comfortable. Thus, it struggles and runs more frequently, which wastes energy and places more wear on the system. This causes breakdowns and leads to the system dying well before it reaches the expected service life. It’s best to look at other factors to make concessions if you need to lower costs.

Unit Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps use the same cooling energy efficiency measure as air conditioners – SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The minimum SEER requirement for newly manufactured heat pumps in the Midwest region is 13. Heating efficiency is measured in HSPF, which stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. Nationwide, heat pumps must have a minimum of 7.7 HSPF.

As with other types of HVAC equipment, how much do heat pumps cost is affected by a unit’s energy efficiency. Higher efficiency heat pumps have a higher purchase price than lower efficiency heat pumps. However, paying a higher price to purchase a more efficient unit may make financial sense for your household – higher efficiency units waste less electricity, therefore their operating costs are lower than units with lower efficiency ratings. When determining the right heat pump for your home, think about how ongoing costs compare to upfront costs.

Equipment Brand

Just like most any product, brand name impacts how much do heat pumps cost. Many equipment brands make heat pumps – some offer more budget-friendly basic options, while others pack their options with user-friendly features and the latest technological advances.

Within each heat pump brand’s product line, there are typically a few different equipment options. In most cases, they range from more basic models to upgraded models. Think of it like purchasing a new vehicle – buy the factory standard model at a lower price with fewer features, or buy the loaded package with all the bells and whistles at a higher price.

Choose Thomas & Galbraith for Heat Pump Installation

Thomas & Galbraith provides Cincinnati area homeowners with quotes for how much do heat pumps cost. We match you with a new Carrier heat pump that meets your needs and perform the skilled installation required to put your new system into service. Contact us today to schedule an estimate for heat pump installation.

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