It’s hard to pinpoint an exact estimate of how much a new AC costs as there are several factors to consider. Forbes puts the range at $5,000 to $34,000, but this huge range weighs heavily on whether there is an existing system and ductwork already, the size of the home, the quality of your insulation, and the state of the electricals. On average, Forbes puts the average cost of a central AC at $6,000, but we’ve seen some systems come in lower than that.
Still, you have to expect a new AC unit to cost several thousand. For some people, this expense is alarming, especially if you’re already living from paycheck to paycheck. It leads to one of the questions we hear the most: “Can I finance a new air conditioning unit?”
Financing is possible. Here are some of the factors you should consider when deciding what to do and how to get the most from your investment in your home’s cooling system.
Choose an ENERGY STAR System
While the cost of an energy-efficient AC system may be higher, the amount it saves over the years is worth it. If your current AC system is at least ten years old, upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified system can reduce your electricity bill by an average of around $140 a year.
ENERGY STAR has an online energy savings calculator you can use to calculate your savings. It’s a good way to estimate exactly how much you’ll save on your electricity bill and to get recommendations on other changes to make to increase your savings.
Save more by making other ENERGY STAR recommended improvements like sealing and insulating your existing ducts, adding insulation in your attic, and installing a smart thermostat. These changes can greatly increase your monthly energy bills, which helps the new AC system pay for itself in just a couple of years.
Work With a Professional Florida AC Installer
As tempting as it might be to install your own AC system, it’s not a DIY project. If you purchase a system that’s too large for the size and layout of your home or one that’s too small, you waste energy.
An oversized system cools a home quickly, but it also shuts down just as quickly. Because of this, the pumps, fans, and electricals are turning on and off more often than they should. It wears the components out, so your system won’t last as long.
An undersized system does all that it can to keep your home cool enough, but it can’t keep up. It never shuts off. As it’s running all of the time, your electricity bills increase. Plus, it’s not cycling properly, so components wear out quickly due to excessive use.
You have to have an expert in AC installations carefully calculate the square footage of your home, number of windows, ceiling height, sun exposure, and number of bedrooms and living areas to carefully choose the correct size.
Once the system size is decided, existing ducts must be inspected to ensure there are no holes and cracks or mildew and mold build-up. If ducts need cleaning, sealing, or replacing, it has to be part of the AC installation project. Otherwise, you lose cooled air to gaps in the wall or attic.
If your home doesn’t have ducts, they have to be designed to ensure the cooled air reaches every room. Ducts then have to be installed, which means cutting holes into walls and floors and feeding the ducts through those areas. Ducts have to be sealed to prevent leaks and insulated to keep the air cool as it moves from the internal AC unit to all of the rooms.
Your new AC system has electrical components that have to be up to code. If you’re not a qualified electrician, you could end up in trouble installing your own AC. If there is a fire that’s determined to have been caused by an overloaded panel or improper wiring, your homeowner’s insurance policy will refuse to cover damage if you did the work yourself, unless you can prove you’re a certified electrician. Don’t risk it and hire licensed, insured AC professionals.
Save Money With Tax Incentives and Rebates
Florida Power & Light (FPL) has several rebates that lower the cost of a new AC installation. Is your attic insulation in good shape? If not, use an FPL-qualified contractor to add more insulation and receive an instant rebate of $220.
In addition, when you file your taxes next year, you qualify for tax incentives that reduce the amount you owe or add more to your tax refund. Ceiling/attic insulation rebates are worth as much as $1,200.
Your new central AC system qualifies for an instant rebate of $150 with FPL. There’s also a federal tax credit of up to 30% of the AC installation for a maximum of $600 for AC units. Add those incentives to the others and you can take up to $2,020 for the insulation upgrades and new AC system. That’s a huge saving!
The federal tax incentive does require you to choose an ENERGY STAR-certified AC system. If that system won’t work with your current electrical panel, there’s a tax incentive on that, too. You can claim up to $600 (30% of the project cost) as long as it is installed by a master electrician following National Electric Code and has a load capacity of 200 amps or higher.
Note that there is an annual limit of $3,200 in tax credits. You can go up to this amount, but you won’t get credits on any energy efficiency improvements that exceed that amount each year.
Avoid a Credit Card Purchase
Right now is not a good time to put a new central air system on a credit card, even if you have the room. The Federal Reserve Board approved another rate hike, bringing the federal rate to 4.75% to 5%. Add that to the prime rate set by your credit card company. The average credit card interest rate is nearing 24%.
You’re better off talking to your local bank or credit union about a home improvement loan. Your lender may recommend a home improvement loan or a personal loan. A better option is to talk to Miami AC experts All Year Cooling.
We partner with several financial institutions to help you get a low interest rate for financing a new air conditioner. If that doesn’t work out, we have in-house financing programs with no minimum credit score. We do not want any customer to have to go without AC in Florida’s hot, humid weather. We’ll work with you to make sure you get a financial offer that works for your needs.
Call, email, or message All Year Cooling. We’ll set up a time to talk to you about your new AC financing options, what rebates and tax incentives you qualify for, and the best AC system for your home.