If you are interested in installing or replacing your HVAC system for your home, you should look not only for the system that will work best for your home but also one that is highly energy-efficient. While a new AC system with high energy efficiency may be more costly upon installation, you can save a significant amount of cash on utility bills while improving the comfort of your family.
For a quick breakdown here is the average costs of HVAC installation for a high energy efficiency rated unit from each HVAC system with the least to most energy efficiency capabilities:
- Central Air Conditioner + Furnace – $6,800
- Standard Split Heat Pump – $7,255
- Mini Split Heat Pump – $8,276
- Geothermal Heat Pump – up to $18,485 with excavation costs
Standard Split Heat Pump System
A standard split heat pump system is the most affordable HVAC system in the market. It works by circulating the refrigerant through an indoor and outdoor unit. The indoor unit handles the air cooling and heating of the house, but you can add a gas furnace if you need additional heating during the winter season.
Split-system heat pumps are efficient because it controls heat in one area and moves it to the desired area through the blower and duct system. It only requires a minimum amount of energy to let the refrigerant circulate and carry cool or hot air to the different“zones” in your home. The most energy-efficient units have approximately 15 EER. The top ways to measure energy efficiency are SEER and EER ratings.
A SEER rating reflects overall system efficiency on a seasonal basis and EER reflects your HVAC system’s energy efficiency at peak operation times. Both ratings are important when choosing a product. Heat Seasonal Performance Factor also known as HSPG is the other unit of measure you will see for the heating capacity of a heat pump.
A split system is less efficient than mini-split systems and geothermal systems but considering their value and maintenance cost, you can also save a significant amount of money every year by utilizing a split heat pump system if it is able to handle the heating and cooling needs of your home.
The cost of a split heat pump system is about $2,300 to $6,500 depending on the unit size, features, efficiency rating, and installation process.
Mini Split Heat Pumps
A mini-split heat pump also called a ductless pump, is a system that relies on outside air. It means that it gets heat from the air system located outside of your home and processes it for cooled air. It works in a manner that is the opposite principle of a geothermal system. The system includes an outdoor unit that can cater to as many as 8 indoor units. It utilizes a blower going to the indoor unit to disperse the heat-processed from its outdoor appliance.
Mini-split heat pumps are energy-efficient because they do not waste energy to create heat. Instead, the system gathers heat in the air and processes it with the refrigerant. Also, newer models now use inverter technology that automatically adjusts the temperature to an optimum level, which lowers the risk for over-cooling or overheating and costing you more money on utility bills. Ultimately, mini pump systems need a very small amount of energy to work. The most efficient units have 20 EER and above.
A mini-split heat pump system is about $3,000 to $12,000 depending on the heat pump size and the number of indoor units it serves.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps utilize the sustainable heat coming from the earth to make effective heating for its inhabitants. Also known as a ground source heat pump, it works by gathering solar heat stored in the ground or water. The refrigerant in the system condenses the heat, which warms home during cold seasons. During the summer, it works by obtaining the heat from your home and dumping it to the ground through a reverse process.
A geothermal heat pump is one of the most energy-efficient HVAC systems as the heat that it gets from the ground is already present, plus it is sustainable like solar energy. It does not need fuel or electricity to work. The most efficient geothermal pump models have as high as 45 EER. However, installation of a geothermal single system costs anywhere from $11,000 to $25,000 and it’s usually best practice to install before constructing your home, unless you have a good amount of land near your home to excavate and build out your ground heat system.
There are various factors to consider before you conclude that an HVAC system is energy-efficient or not. A geothermal system is the most energy-efficient HVAC system yet is also the most expensive type. If you require a long-term system, then it is a great investment. However for an HVAC system you need to work for 5 to 10 years before maintenance is needed, you can go for a standard heat pump or a mini-split system. These two types are both energy efficient and are more affordable than a geothermal type. A central air conditioning unit and furnace combo is also very popular, and the market is offering higher and higher AFUE and SEER ratings for each system as technology becomes more advanced within the HVAC industry.