How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost to Replace? 10 Most Influential Factors

How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost to Replace? 10 Most Influential Factors
Heat Pump

How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost to Replace? 10 Most Influential Factors

8 min read
What We Will Cover

Knowing the influential factors will help you make a wise decision on a heat pump system that will keep you comfortable, operate properly, and be within your budget.

Quick question: how much does a new heat pump cost? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands? Maybe you have a general idea of the price of a heat pump, but many homeowners have no idea if they’ll be able to fit one into their budget. What’s worse, finding a straight answer online can be impossible. We’re here to fix that.

If your heat pump has recently broken down or is running inefficiently, you’re losing both money and comfort. A repair may work, but for many systems, it’s only a matter of time before it will need to be replaced. Not all systems are created equal, though, so knowing what costs to expect can better prepare you when contacting HVAC providers.

This article breaks down the costs of a heat pump and explains why each one may be necessary. By the end of the article, you’ll have a range of potential costs and options to begin your budgeting and decision-making process.

Common Items Included in a Heat Pump Replacement

There are several items included in any installation that should be standard with a heat pump. They include the following:

  • Indoor air handler or evaporator coil
  • Outdoor pad
  • Electric disconnect and conduit from the disconnect to the heat pump
  • New line set
  • 15 feet of drain line
  • Snow legs
  • Local permits for the installation
  • Thermostat

These are added to the cost of the unit itself as well as any labor costs from your heat pump’s installation. As we’ll see below, the heat pump itself can also vary in cost depending on its capacity and efficiency.

Common heat-pump installation items

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 that includes more control options. The wiring that facilitates communication between this 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.

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 these items can range from $100-$600.

Ductwork Modifications in Heat Pump Installation

The ductwork in many homes is sufficient to support a heat pump system, but if your home is older, or if there have been new rooms or wings added onto the house since it was built, the ductwork may be insufficient to support a whole-home heat pump system.

Ductwork modifications can be for any existing ductwork installed that is not sized properly for correct airflow requirements.

Improper ductwork size can cause hot /cold spots throughout your home, decrease the longevity of the heating and cooling system, and increase operating costs. Any HVAC representative who visits your home should be doing a duct analysis that will determine if the existing ductwork is sized properly for the heating and cooling capacity required.

Condensate Drainage

One of the functions of a heat pump is to remove moisture during humid months. This moisture is condensed into water and needs to be drained off.

Most times, 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 is required to circumvent the obstruction and move the moisture to the proper drain.

Condensate pumps cost approximately $370.

Equipment Matching

One of the most overlooked aspects of heating and cooling is equipment matching. This means that your heating and cooling systems must be compatible with one another, since they share common elements.

A variable-speed or two-stage heat pump requires equipment to allow the heat pump, air handler or furnace to communicate with the thermostat. If you have a single-speed heat pump and hope to upgrade to a variable-speed system, this could result in an incompatibility and require replacement equipment.

A new furnace can range between $3300-$7025. This replacement would be needed if you decided on installing a variable-speed or two-stage heat pump without having the matching equipment.

The other side of this cost is that variable-speed systems generally have greatly increased efficiency and comfort. Depending on your expected usage of the system, it could be a wise investment.

A diligent HVAC contractor will check your existing systems to make sure anything they recommend is compatible. They’ll also explain the costs and benefits if you upgrade to a variable-speed system and need to match your equipment.

Heat Pump Capacity and Efficiency

The capacity of the air conditioning portion of the heat pump is determined by performing a Manual J load calculation of the home. All this means is that your contractor will calculate the square footage of the home, along with other relevant factors like the number and size of windows and doors, the height of the ceilings, and other construction factors. From this, they can calculate how powerful a system needs to be to properly heat and cool your home. Heat pump systems range in capacity from 2-5 tons.

As the tonnage of the system goes up, so too does the cost. However, matching the correct capacity to your home is crucial. If you have a two-ton heat pump in a home that requires three tons, for example, it will be running almost constantly and will result in inefficient system usage and hot or cold spots from insufficient power.

The long-term cost to an incorrect capacity calculation can be more than the system itself.

Hand in hand with capacity is efficiency. Many homeowners have heard about SEER Rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) on the cooling portion of your heat pump. This is an efficiency rating that can be compared to miles per gallon on a car. Heat pumps can have a SEER rating of 14-20+.

Usually a higher-efficiency system will increase in cost. However, there are two items to consider:

  • A high-efficiency heat pump can save you hundreds or even thousands per year depending on the situation.
  • The life expectancy for a well-maintained heat pump can be over 20 years, so a higher initial cost is sometimes worthwhile.

Similar to SEER Rating is the HSPF Rating, which stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor.  This rating determines the efficiency of the heat pump’s heating capabilities. Older heat pumps can have an HSPF rating of around 7. Newer heat pumps will have HSPF ratings of 8.2 or higher, while the most efficient heat pumps typically have an HSPF rating of 9.0 or higher.

Heat-Pump Efficiency Ratings and Savings

State-licensed heating contractors like Fire & Ice will always perform a capacity calculation on your home before recommending or selling you a system. Don’t assume a previous calculation was done correctly; make sure your HVAC contractor performs it before any installation.

Total Cost of a Heat Pump

Ok, so now you understand what goes into your system, what does the cost come to?

The cost of replacement for a heat pump can range between $4,960-$12,570.

This range includes the full range of possibilities and modifications listed above, with the exception of a furnace replacement to match equipment. If you need very few modifications and your home can be covered by a low capacity heat pump, your final cost will be toward the lower end of that range. Conversely, with a high-capacity system and alterations to the ductwork, electric and drain pump, it could be toward the high end.

As we mentioned in equipment matching, a higher initial cost isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it usually means your system will run more efficiently. Since heat pumps can last 20-25 years when properly serviced, this savings adds up.

Next, we’ll look at a couple of ways you might be able to lower the costs further.

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 system you choose:

  • Manufacturers will often offer incentives to replace your heat pump, which are in the form of rebates that participating HVAC companies can offer.
  • 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.

At Fire and Ice Heating and Air Conditioning, we maintain contact with local utility companies and manufacturers to make sure we’re offering any available rebates to the customer. While rebates won’t always exist for your purchase, make sure you’re asking your HVAC contractor before signing the dotted line.

Financing Your Heat Pump

A Heat Pump is a significant investment. It’s not always going to be something that you can pay out of pocket.

If you are interested in extending your payments, there are many financing options available for you with approved credit. This can include no interest if paid in full, 0% APR with equal monthly payments, or special reduced-rate plans.

Partial payment of cash/check and balance with financing can be an option as well. Multiple finance options can help your purchase stay within your budget.

There are even “second look” plans available for many customers with lower credit scores. Don’t assume you won’t be able to finance a new system. Make sure you’re assessing all of your options with a knowledgeable HVAC contractor before making your decision.

What a Good Contractor Will Do

A good HVAC contractor will have information on each of the sections detailed above. They will proactively identify potential issues and recommendations that will affect the price of your system.

The other, perhaps most important, area of attention is the installation itself. When choosing a company to replace your existing heating and/or air conditioning system, the installation process is the single most important step for the safety and life expectancy of the system. It’s the difference between a long, efficient life and sub-par performance.

A trustworthy contractor will also know all local codes, be familiar with industry standards, understand the recommended processes as laid out by the manufacturers, and follow each carefully. To do any less is to jeopardize the integrity of your HVAC system.

Take the Next Step

At Fire and Ice Heating and Air Conditioning we have the team to help you determine the right product for you, your home, and your budget. Our professional administration, sales, installation, and service staff will make sure you are 100% satisfied. Contact us to schedule your estimate today!

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