Heat Pump Installation Costs for a 1950's Ranch House

Answered by Jeffrey ~ September 1, 2010 ~ Comments

I have a 1950's ranch that does not have central heat and air. I would like a ballpark figure for installation. It has an attic (which is pretty much fully floored and great for storage) and a crawl space which you do crawl in to navigate it (don't know if there is enough room for ductwork in there). Currently it has a hot water system and registers to heat the house (there is gas to heat the water). I don't know if a gas system (since there is already gas available) would be best and more cost efficient or if an electrical system for air and heat is best. I would also need ductwork installed. Thank you

Charlotte ~ Norfolk, Virginia

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Charlotte, the good news is that you may have the perfect style home for adding a new heating and air conditioning system. A one level home with an attic and a crawl space is just about an ideal situation and there should be a minimum of wall repair that needs to be done.

My first suggestion is that you have a least three Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) contractors come out and take a look at what your current situation is. One of the first things they are going to need to figure out is how large your home is as that will let them know what sized duct work and heat pump you are going to need for efficient heating and cooling in your home. I live a couple of hours from Norfolk, Virginia and completely understand why you want to add central air conditioning as this summer has been brutal.

The other areas the HVAC contractors are going to look at are where the best place for the heat pump might be, where your electric panel is, and where the duct work should be located.

As far as the type of system to install, I would think that a gas heating and electric cooling system might offer you the most efficient service especially since you already have gas there. The HVAC contractors can take a look at your existing system and offer their recommendations as to whether it should be a part of your new system or if an entirely new system should be installed.

There are federal tax credits in place right now for homeowners who upgrade their homes to high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. There might also be rebates available through Norfolk and your utility companies so ask the HVAC contractors about those as they should know. A high efficiency system is going to cost more to install, but when you add in the potential tax credits and rebates and possible long term energy savings that type of system may cost a lot less than a standard type system.

While installing a new HVAC system you may want to consider upgrading the insulation in your attic and down the road when your budget allows, upgrading your windows so that your home is making efficient use of that new heating and air conditioning system.

The cost for a new HVAC system can vary tremendously based on the size of your home and the type of equipment you decide to use; as I mentioned high efficiency equipment is more expensive than standard equipment. I am going to give you a ballpark figure of $6-$8 dollars a square foot for a completely new system, but that could go up or down quite a bit. The best thing is to get some estimates from local contractors and make sure that when you are comparing costs the contractors priced the same type of equipment. You are also going to have to decide what to do about the existing heating system if you install a new system. You may just want to cap it off and leave the piping or you may want to remove it completely.

Another good thing about installing a new HVAC system now is that many contractors are very competitive on their pricing due to the slow down in residential construction.

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