The first reason that HVAC systems have large price differences is that they vary significantly in how efficiently they operate. Ultra-efficient equipment can cost as much as four times what a base model will cost from the same manufacturer. Currently, the federal minimum efficiency is 13 SEER. While all manufacturers make base model 13 SEER equipment, they also make high efficient equipment that exceeds 20 SEER. The technology used in these systems is what accounts for the cost difference. They may use more efficient motors such as ECM motors or two stage compressors. They may also have larger coil sizes that would result in an overall large cabinet design and more raw materials (steel, aluminum, etc.) needed to manufacture the equipment. The higher costs of the systems does however have a return on investment. Residents in Orlando can expect to save around $8 a month on their utility costs per SEER point. Deciding which efficiency is right for you is based on how long you plan on living in your home. Some of the higher end systems could easily take ten years or more to recover the additional installation costs.
A second reason your system may cost more than your neighbor or friend is because of the size. Residential air conditioning and heating equipment is sized from 1.5 through 5.0 tons or 18,000-60,000 btu's. That creates quite a substantial cost difference. In years past contractors had used a rule of thumb for sizing and that was 1 ton per 500 square feet of living space. With improvements in home construction and energy efficiency, this has proven to yield sizes that are typically too big for the home. We have conducted heat load calculations where there was a little as 1 ton per 300 square feet needed.
A third reason your installation may cost more than a neighbors is if duct modifications were required. Unfortunately, many builders cut costs during construction and used ducting that was too small for the application. In addition to not cooling or heating properly, there is also a reduction in energy efficiency. It has been estimated that well over half of the HVAC systems in Orlando today have undersized ductwork. Because the job is labor intensive and material costs are high, duct replacements can cost as much as entire equipment replacements. In addition to duct modifications, some homeowners will also opt for indoor air quality upgrades such as UV air purification systems, dehumidifiers or zone controls.
The last reason some installations cost more that others is the contractor that is hired. While is it not a guarantee that there is more quality in a higher price, it is usually a good indication. Some companies also add more value to the installation such as providing a labor warranty or guarantees in the event of a system failure. It is rarely advised to go with the lowest bidder when it comes to HVAC. A quality installation by a reputable contractor can easily save hundreds and thousands of dollars over the life of the equipment due to the added reliability that is achieved from a quality installation. If you live in the Orlando area and are interested in a new air conditioning and heating system, contact the HVAC experts today at Melco HVAC Services of Orlando.