Heat pumps are a single unit that both heats and cools a home. Heat pump units cost more than traditional central air systems to install. However, because they are more energy-efficient, the return on investment is a significant saving in energy costs.
Here’s our 2020 guide to heat pump pricing and the factors that influence costs.
How much does a heat pump cost?
Heat pump units vary in price depending on brand, size, efficiency, and sources (air-to-air, water-to-air, geothermal, dual fuel, mini-split) . Here’s an indication of the average costs of a heat pump unit.
Heat pump prices
Residential heat pump sizes range in capacity from 1.5 to five tons for different-sized homes. Heat pump prices can range from $3,000 for a 1.5-ton, 13 SEER unit up to $10,100 for a 5-ton, 14 SEER unit.
Don’t be tempted to buy a smaller unit to save money. An undersized heat pump will not heat and cool your home properly. The system will run almost continuously to try to reach the temperature on the thermostat without ever succeeding. This failure results in higher energy bills and uncomfortable home temperatures all year.
Heat pump installation pricing can vary widely, depending on the contractor you choose and the complexity of the job. The average price for a three-ton heat pump is $4,800, including equipment and installation.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for different types of heat pump installation jobs:
- Air-source heat pump installation cost: $1,100 – $4,000.
- Dual-fuel heat pump that connects to an existing furnace: $2,500 – $6,000. Adding a new furnace increases the price to $4,500 – $10,000.
- Replacing or installing new ductwork can push installation costs up to $15,000.
- Installing a ductless mini-split system can cost as little as $2,000 or as much as $14,500, depending on the number of rooms in which you install air handlers.
- Installing a geothermal heat pump can cost $20,000 or more.
New vs. replacement costs
When your heat pump is faulty, repairs can sometimes cost as much as replacing the entire unit. Heat pumps, just like air conditioners, contain a compressor. The compressor is one of the most expensive parts of the unit to replace, costing anywhere from $1,500 to $2,800.
Condenser and evaporator coils are also costly to fix. Replacing the evaporator coil costs between $600 and $2,650. Replacing the condenser coil will cost between $1,000 and $2,800. On the other hand, minor repairs like replacing the AC capacitor may cost only $125 – $250.
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Factors that affect heat pump prices
Various factors influence the final price you’ll pay to install a heat pump. For example, if your home doesn’t need new ductwork, this can cut costs significantly. If, however, you need a gas line connected to your home for auxiliary heating from a gas furnace, that’s an extra cost. Other factors to consider when purchasing a heat pump include the following:
Size of home
The size of your home determines the size of your heat pump. The larger the pump, the more expensive it is. A professional HVAC contractor will conduct a load calculation to determine the correct heat pump to meet your home’s heating and cooling needs.
Heat pump installation prices can vary greatly among different HVAC contractors. Heat pump installations should be done by a trained HVAC technician. Avoid unlicensed contractors who may offer a lower price. Incorrect installation will result in a poorly functioning system that will cost you more in energy use and repairs over time.
Types of heat pumps
The type of heat pump you choose is a big factor in price. Selecting the right heat pump for your home depends on the type of property you own and the climate where you live.
Air-source heat pump
Air-source heat pumps are the most common type of heat pump. They’re easy to install and ideal for warmer climates. Air-source heat pumps pull air from outside the home and transfer it indoors. In summer, the process is reversed, as heat from inside the home is transferred outside.
Geothermal heat pump
Geothermal, also called ground-source heat pumps, are more expensive to install, as they require excavation to lay pipes in the ground. Geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground and transfer it through piping to the house.
Water-source heat pump
Water-source heat pumps pull heat from a water source such as a lake, river, well or pond. Installing pipes in water is an easier and cheaper process than the geothermal option. Both geothermal and water-source heat pumps work well in colder climates, as ground heat is more consistent and warmer than air heat in winter.
Dual fuel heat pump
In harsh climates where winter temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to install a dual-fuel heat pump that connects to a furnace. When temperatures drop below freezing, the heat pump shuts off and the furnace kicks in to provide adequate heating.
Ductless mini-split heat pump
Ductless mini-split heat pumps are the perfect solution for a home with no ductwork or in a room addition where no ducts are available. Installing a single-room heat pump costs around $500.
Costs to run a heat pump
Because heat pumps are more energy-efficient, running costs are generally lower. However, if you require auxiliary heating, like a furnace, costs will be higher in winter. On average, the annual operating costs for a high-quality heat pump hover around $850.
Compared to an electric furnace, a heat pump can reduce your electric bill by approximately 50%. Geothermal heat pumps can save you up to 60% or more. In addition, heat pumps that are not connected to a furnace are an environmentally-friendly way of heating and cooling a home because they don’t rely on fossil fuel to generate heat.
The average cost to repair a heat pump is $357, but costs can run as high as $1,400. Regular heat pump maintenance can help prevent costly repairs and, on average, costs only $170 to $190. With regular maintenance, a heat pump should last at least 15 years.
Installing a new heat pump may cost more upfront compared to a traditional central air system, but long-term savings make it a worthwhile investment.
*Pricing information sourced:
Thomas, James. National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator. Craftsman Book Comapany, 2018.