How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost to Replace in 2021?

How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost to Replace in 2021?
Arne Jacobsen
Residential Sales Professional

I have been in heating and air conditioning trade for 44 years. In that time, I have installed, serviced, designed ductwork, sold, and sized thousands of residential heating and cooling systems.

About This Article

Several factors affect the final cost of your heat pump. In this article, we break down these factors as well as the price ranges for different types of heat pumps.

Cost of a Heat Pump Replacement

The cost of a heat pump replacement can range between $4,900 - $12,500. This range accounts for the cost of the equipment, labor and other fees.

This range also covers a variety of system sizes and levels of sophistication, including variable-capacity heat pump systems.

The factors that can affect the price of your heat pump replacement include:

  • Capacity/power of the system
  • Efficiency
  • The HVAC equipment that you’re not replacing
  • Modifications to your existing system
  • Line set protection
  • Installation costs
  • Tax credits and rebates

The article below breaks down how these factors can affect the cost of your heat pump replacement. It also provides price ranges for different levels of heat pumps, including entry-level, mid-range, and high-end.

You lose both money and comfort when your heat pump breaks down or begins running inefficiently.

A repair may temporarily address the issue, but it’s only a matter of time before you need to replace it.

Many homeowners aren’t sure if they’ll be able to fit a replacement heat pump into their budget. What’s worse, finding a straight answer online – that includes labor costs – can be impossible. We’re here to fix that.

At Fire & Ice, we believe that you can get the most out of a heat pump replacement when you have the information you need to make a well-informed decision.

We’ve helped thousands of Central Ohio residents determine which HVAC equipment can meet their needs and budget. Along the way, we’ve seen firsthand how our customers’ access to information affects their choices and satisfaction.

In this article, we cover the factors that affect the cost of your replacement heat pump.

By the end of the article, you’ll have a range of cost estimates and options to begin your budgeting and decision-making process.

A Note on HVAC Labor Costs

Every range we list in this article includes labor costs. Too many online quotes and estimates don’t include the cost of labor. And labor can substantially impact the final cost of your heat pump replacement.

Labor costs vary based on your location and your home. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Ask your HVAC partner if they include labor costs in their estimates.

Two Major Factors That Affect Heat Pump Cost

Two major factors dictate the equipment cost of your replacement heat pump:

  1. The power, or heating and cooling capacity, your heat pump must have to satisfy your heating and cooling needs
  2. The efficiency of your replacement heat pump

Heat Pump Capacity

In order to meet your heating and cooling needs, your heat pump must be powerful enough. And as power increases, so does the cost of your replacement heat pump.

HVAC contractors may also refer to your heat pump’s power as its capacity, output or size.

Your heat pump's capacity dictates how well it can meet your heating and cooling needs. But to determine your replacement heat pump’s capacity, your HVAC partner must perform a load calculation.

Load calculations account for any challenges your heat pump would need to overcome to meet your heating and cooling needs.

At Fire & Ice, we perform a Manual J load calculation for each in-home estimate. Both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) require load calculations like the Manual J.

Among other factors, Manual J load calculations factor in:

  • The square footage of your home
  • The number and size of your windows and doors
  • The directions your windows face
  • The height of your ceilings
  • How recently your home was insulated

These factors can help your HVAC partner determine how powerful your heat pump needs to be.

State-licensed heating contractors like Fire & Ice will always perform a load calculation on your home before recommending or selling you a system. Don’t assume a previous calculation is still accurate. Make sure your HVAC partner performs a load calculation before any installation.

Matching the correct capacity to your home is crucial. If your heat pump is too powerful or isn’t powerful enough to heat and cool your home, your system will suffer.

In both cases, improper sizing affects your heat pump’s life expectancy. On average, heat pumps typically last around 15 years or longer. If your heat pump isn't the right capacity for your home, you may need to replace it as much as 5-10 years sooner.

Heat Pump Efficiency Ratings

As with all HVAC equipment, more efficient heat pumps tend to cost more upfront.

However, the more efficient a heat pump is, the more you can save on energy costs in the long run. More efficient heat pumps can also typically provide more comfort.

Only you can decide whether or not a more efficient heat pump is worth the investment. But let’s talk about how you can identify efficient heat pumps.

Since heat pumps provide both cooling and heating, manufacturers use two different ratings to score heat pump efficiency:

  1. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
  2. Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)

While cooling, a heat pump’s efficiency is scored with a SEER rating. Heat pumps can be between 14-20 SEER.

While heating, a heat pump’s efficiency is scored with an HSPF rating. Heat pumps can be between 7.7-10 HSPF.

Both SEER and HSPF ratings are calculated based on the amount of energy a heat pump uses.

While both SEER and HSPF are calculated differently, higher SEER and HSPF ratings both indicate more efficient heat pumps.

Other Common Heat Pump Costs & Accessories

When most people imagine their new cooling system, they think of the heat pump unit itself. But replacing your current system involves more than just replacing the unit itself.

So let’s talk about some of the other components that affect the final price of your replacement air conditioner.

The following items are typically required to install an air conditioner:

    • Physical parts, including indoor and outdoor coils, outdoor pad, outside electric disconnect, an electric conduit from the disconnect to the heat pump, new copper line set from the indoor coil to the heat pump, and 15 feet of drain line
  • Local permits
  • Condensate drainage, if necessary
  • Electrical costs for breakers and thermostats, if necessary
  • Ductwork modification, if necessary

Heat Pump Parts

When many homeowners think about heat pumps, they think about the outdoor unit. But there’s more to your heat pump.

Here’s a short list of some common items that will come standard with almost any new heat pump installation:

  1. Indoor and outdoor units: Depending on whether it’s heating or cooling your home, a heat pump draws heat from inside or outside and moves it to the opposite location. To do so, a heat pump needs coils inside and outside to facilitate this transfer.
  2. Drain line: A new heat pump typically comes with 15 feet of drain line. If the location of your equipment requires a longer line, there may be a higher charge.
  3. Thermostat: Your current thermostat may already be compatible with your new equipment. In some cases, your HVAC contractor may need to run new wiring to connect your thermostat to your new heat pump. But if your current thermostat isn’t compatible, you may need a new thermostat.
  4. Outdoor pad: The pad that your heat pump is on makes a difference. It should be sturdy, level, and weather-resistant. At Fire & Ice, we use plastic pads that do all of this with far less risk than concrete pads.
  5. Snow legs: Your equipment needs space to breathe. Snow legs keep the outdoor unit off of the ground and protected from overheating or condensation buildup.
  6. Electrical components: This includes the electrical disconnect and conduit from the disconnect to the heat pump.

Some of these will result in additional costs beyond the base equipment. Others (like the indoor and outdoor units) will come standard.

Equipment Matching

One of the most overlooked aspects of heating and cooling is equipment matching.

Equipment matching involves pairing compatible heating and cooling systems. This ensures that you get the most out of your HVAC system as a whole.

Your HVAC system’s blower motor is responsible for circulating air throughout your home. Your system’s blower motor is located in your furnace or air handler. If your heat pump and your furnace or air handler aren’t compatible, you may not get the comfort and efficiency that you paid for.

This is especially important with variable-capacity heat pumps. Variable-capacity heat pumps generally have greatly increased efficiency and comfort. Depending on your expected usage of the system, it could be a wise investment.

But without a variable-speed blower motor, a variable-capacity heat pump will not provide the same level of comfort or efficiency.

If you upgrade to a variable-capacity heat pump or a two-stage heat pump, you may need to replace your furnace as well.

A good HVAC contractor will check your existing HVAC system to make sure their recommendations are compatible. They’ll also explain the costs and benefits if you upgrade your heat pump and need to match your equipment.

heat pump

Permits for Heat Pump Installation

Permits are required by law for HVAC installations.

Many insurance companies also require permits and inspections to ensure that your HVAC equipment is installed safely.

There is a fee for the permit. This fee covers the cost of the follow-up inspection.

Any good HVAC contractor will obtain the necessary permits for the installation.

Condensate Drainage

During humid months, heat pumps help remove moisture from the air inside your home. Your heat pump then condenses this moisture into water that must be drained.

Oftentimes, this moisture is drained into a floor drain or sump pump. Occasionally, though, this isn’t possible due to home construction or obstructions in the way of the draining pipe.

In these cases, a condensate pump helps move the moisture to the proper drain.

Condensate pumps cost approximately $300 - $500.

Electrical Requirements in Heat Pump Installation

Occasionally, a home’s existing electrical work will not support a modern system. This is sometimes the case when switching from an older thermostat to a modern one with additional control options.

In many cases, the wiring that facilitates communication between your thermostat and the heat pump may need to be updated. Additionally, high-voltage wiring or breakers at your electric panel may need to be updated or resized.

Occasionally this high-voltage work requires a state-licensed electrician. Your HVAC contractor should be able to inform you of this and also coordinate with an electrician to facilitate this work.

While these items are not needed in every job, ask your contractor if your existing electrical work will support the system you have in mind.

Additional costs for electrification modifications can add $100 - $600 to the cost of your heat pump installation.

Ductwork Modifications in Heat Pump Installation

Most homes have adequate ductwork. But sometimes even modern homes need ductwork modifications.

Your ductwork must be sized correctly for your heating and cooling equipment. To do anything less is to waste efficiency (see also: comfort and money).

Improperly sized ductwork can cause hot and cold spots throughout your home, decrease the longevity of your HVAC system, and increase operating costs.

Any HVAC sales representative who visits your home should do a duct analysis. This will help determine if the existing ductwork is sized properly for your system.

Ductwork modifications range from small adjustments to substantial investments. To learn more about how your ductwork can affect the cost of your new heat pump, check out this article that breaks down costs and factors involved in ductwork modifications.

Total Cost of a Heat Pump Replacement

Now that you understand the factors that affect the cost of your heat pump replacement, what does the cost come to?

Heat Pump Equipment & Installation Costs:

  • Entry-level heat pump: $4,900 - $7,000
  • Mid-range heat pump: $5,500 - $10,000
  • High-end heat pump: $6,500 - $12,500

The biggest factor that separates those tiers is whether the heat pump is single-stage, two-stage, or variable-capacity.

These ranges include all of the factors, possibilities and modifications listed above. It also includes labor, as mentioned earlier.

However, these ranges do not include the cost of a replacement furnace, which could be necessary for equipment matching.

Ultimately, the best replacement heat pump for you depends on your needs, preferences and budget.

But there are ways to lower the initial cost of your heat pump replacement.

heat pump

Rebates and Tax Credits for Heat Pumps

Rebates and tax credits exist for a variety of reasons. You may qualify for one or more based on the heat pump model you choose:

  • Manufacturers will often offer incentives in the form of rebates.
  • Local utility companies will sometimes offer rebates for multiple types of furnaces, air conditioners, air handlers, and heat pumps.
  • Energy tax credits are often available on high-efficiency heating and cooling products.

While it’s best to consult with a tax specialist for full tax benefits, a licensed HVAC provider will have information on each of these as it relates to your project.

Your heat pump replacement may not always qualify for rebates or tax credits. But make sure you ask your HVAC contractor before signing the dotted line.

Quality Heat Pump Installation Near You

A good HVAC contractor should be able to walk you through each factor that affects the cost of your heat pump replacement. They should also proactively identify potential issues and recommendations that will affect the price of your system.

But above all, a good HVAC contractor will follow local building codes and manufacturer specifications to properly install your system.

The HVAC installation process is the single most important step for the safety and life expectancy of your system. It’s the difference between a long, efficient life and sub-par performance.

While you search for the best contractor for you, we encourage you to check out our HVAC contractor checklist below. We created this free, downloadable checklist based on HVAC industry best practices.

HVAC Contractor Checklist
 

And if you’re ready to speak with a sales representative, we’d love to help you find the best heat pump for you!

At Fire & Ice, we take the time to understand your needs and comfort concerns. This helps us recommend heat pumps and other equipment that can customize your HVAC system to fit your preferences and lifestyle.

If you live in Central Ohio, click the “schedule estimate” button below to schedule your free, in-home estimate. We look forward to speaking with you!

Do you live in Central Ohio? Schedule your free estimate today!

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