Keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter is no small feat. Whether you realize it or not, your heating and cooling system is one of the most important and hardest working aspects of your home. Due to this, it’s important you understand how heating and cooling systems work and what to do when it’s time for a repair or new unit. Read through this cost guide to ensure your home’s temperature is comfortable all year long.

Heating and Cooling System Costs

What is an HVAC System?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and refers to the heating and cooling systems in your home, whether they are one single unit or separate. These units work to help circulate hot or cold air throughout your home to ensure it is kept at a comfortable temperature year round.

HVAC Labor Cost Factors

When having a new heating and cooling system installed, the highest cost will be for labor. There are two factors involved with labor pricing:

  • Size, placement and parts, like vents and ducts
  • Installation

This is why it’s important to have a professional fit your home with the correct sized system.

An HVAC specialist will be able to do a mathematical calculation to determine the proper size for your HVAC system based on a couple of factors:

  • Type of materials used
  • Quality of indoor air
  • The size of your home

Installing an HVAC System

There are two options when it comes to installing your HVAC system: roof mounted or a split system. Read below to see which system is better for your home.

Roof-Mounted HVAC

Roof-mounted systems are harder to install due to their placement. It’s important that your roof can properly support the weight of the system. Once a solid location is found, a platform must be built and a drain pipe for the unit must run along the roof to avoid problems, such as mould and corrosion. Typically, a crane must be used to lift the unit onto the roof while a team guides it into place.

The advantages of a roof-mounted system are that they have the heating and cooling systems all in one cabinet. If your unit uses natural gas, sometimes called “gas packs”, they will typically cost less than a comparable split system.

Split HVAC System

Split systems are generally more efficient because each component can be placed in different locations for optimal performance. The heat exchanger can be placed in a shadier or cooler location, instead of on the roof in full sunlight.

Your heat exchanger can be installed almost anywhere on your property, all it needs is a concrete platform to sit on. Keep in mind that this separate unit may require slight modifications to your home, as the unit will need space to run lines.

Unit Size

It’s important that your unit is able to handle the size of your home. When it comes to HVAC systems, smaller units are not necessarily more efficient and larger units are not always more powerful.

If your system is too small, it will be constantly running, trying to keep up with the rising temperatures. Conversely, if your system is too large, it will not run long enough to keep up with the humidity. Ideally, your HVAC system should run for approximately 30 minutes at a time. If your system shuts off after 10 minutes, or your system is stays on too long, it is not performing efficiently.

A little simple math can help determine the size system you need. A rule of thumb is 20 BTUs per square foot. For example, a 500 square foot room would need 10,000 BTUs to cool or warm it efficiently.

HVAC System Costs

National Average
Low end
High End
  • Amana: $5200 – $6400
    Amana’s Premium AGP15 Gas/Electric Package is a very popular model for all climates. It uses gas for heating and electricity for cooling. It also features a louvered compartment for the compressor to help protect it from the elements and from dust and debris. 15 SEER, 80% AFUE, available in 2 to 5 tons.
  • American Standard: $5000 – $6500
    American Standard’s Gold line continues to be their best selling HVAC line. Sturdy steel construction with a variable speed fan helps protect the system while saving about 40% on your energy bill. A corrosion resistant blower ensures a long life for your system. 14.25 SEER, 80% AFUE, available in 2 to 5 tons.
  • Bryant: $5100 – $6500
    Bryant offers a high quality, economical model with their Evolution line. Bryant focuses on quiet comfort, delivering 40,000-100,000 BTU heating with 2-5 tons cooling. 15 SEER and 80% AFUE.
  • Carrier: $4500 – $6100
    Carrier’s Comfort Series includes options such as blower-enhanced dehumidification. The Comfort Series 48ES has a 13 SEER and 81% AFUE. Available in 2-5 tons.
  • Coleman: $2500 – $5200
    Coleman’s Echelon series has rugged and reliable packaged heating & cooling units. The series features up to 16 SEER, 2-5 ton models & 80% AFUE.
  • Lennox: $4800 – $5900
    The Lennox Elite Series 13GCSX maintains its efficiency in almost any climate. Able to handle enhanced filtration with an internally mounted filter rack, this model is available in 2-5 tons. 13 SEER, 80% AFUE.
  • Rheem: $3000 – $4500
    Rheem’s RRNL features a scroll compressor with fewer moving parts and less noise than traditional reciprocating compressors. A louvered compressor compartment protects the compressor from the elements and from debris that can shorten the life of the compressor. The Classic series continues to be one of their best sellers, with the addition of the Comfort Alert diagnostics module integrated to assist technicians in the event your system needs repair. 2-5 tons, 13 SEER, 80% AFUE.
  • Trane — $4600 – $6100
    Trane’s XL13c is built for aesthetics as well as performance. A cabinet designed to fit with almost any architectural style contains a stainless steel heat exchanger and a system designed to perform well year after year. Available from 1.5-5 tons. 13 SEER, 80% AFUE.
  • York: $3800 – $6700
    York offers attractive, space efficient designs that feature quiet operation and high energy efficiency. York features the LX 14 and Affinity 18 Series combination systems that are available from 2-5 tons, 14-18 SEER & 80-98% AFUE.

Cooling Costs

What is an Air Conditioner

In its simplest definition, an air conditioner is any machine that helps to cool down a room by changing the temperature of the air. More specifically, an air conditioner is a machine that treats air through a refrigeration cycle. Typically, the warm air is treated in an enclosed or mostly enclosed area. The air conditioner removes the warm air and replaces it with cooled air.

Types of Air Conditioners

There are four common types of residential air conditioners that you can choose from.

Split Systems

This is the most common type of air conditioners found in homes across North America. In fact, all of the below systems technically fall into the split systems category. Split systems work with two components. Inside the unit, also called a house, an evaporator coil is used to remove the heat and moisture from the air. Outside of the house, a metal case contains another part called the condenser coil, which is used to release the heat, and the compressor, which is in charge of pumping refrigerant between the two coils.

This type of system works best in a home with a central furnace. This is because both can share the ductwork that already exists in the home. The indoor component of the air conditioner uses the network of ducts and a blower to help circulate the cold air throughout your home. If you already have existing ductwork in your home, this is the most economical solution to add AC to your home.

Heat Pumps

During the hot summer months, heat pumps work by pumping the hot summer air out of your home and releasing it outside. During the winter months, heat pumps work by taking in the heat from outside and pushing it inside to warm your home. Due to their multi-use factor, heat pumps can be used effectively for both heating and cooling in mild climates.

If you live in a cooler climate where the temperature is below freezing for a long time (as it is in most of Canada), consider opting for a specialized type of heat pump. These are called ground-source or geothermal heat pumps and work by pulling heat from the ground as opposed to the air. They will cost you roughly 40% more, however they will save you energy in the long run.

Packaged Central Air Conditioners

These units combine the evaporator, compressor and condenser into a single unit. Packaged Central Air Conditioners are installed either on your home’s roof or on a concrete slab near the foundation. Ducts are run through the exterior wall or through the roof, which draws air from outside the house and returns cooled air indoors.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

This is a good option if your home does not have existing ductwork. Similar to a basic split system, the ductless mini-split combines both an outdoor compressor and a condenser that has one or more indoor air-handling units. These units have a blower attached and are mounted high up on a wall in each room that needs cooling. Tubing is used to connect indoor and outdoor units to circulate refrigerant between them.

In terms of cost, you can expect to pay up to 30% more as compared to ducted central air conditioning systems. This is due to the fact that you need a separate unit for each room in your home you want to cool, which means an additional cost for every room that gets too hot. A ductless mini-split unit is a good choice if you’re only looking to cool one or two rooms.

Common Air Conditioner Repairs & Their Costs

There are a number of things that can go wrong with your air conditioner that causes it to need repairs. Here are the most common repairs and their approximate associated costs.

  • Refrigerant leak detection and repair: $300-$2100
  • AC refrigerant recharge: $200-$530
  • Circuit board replacement: $160-$800
  • Replace fuses, circuit breakers or relays: $20-$400
  • Thermostat replacement: $80-$330
  • A/C compressor repair hard start kit: $130-$330
  • Capacitor or contactor replacement: $120-$530
  • Home air compressor replacement: $1800-$2400 (depending on size and type)
  • Evaporator coil replacement $860-$2200
  • Condensing unit fan motor replacement: $130-$400
  • Condensate pump replacement: $120-$330

A service call will depend on your plan and what company you use. Fees can also change depending on the time of the year. HVAC professionals are very busy during hot summer months and their services will come at a premium. Roughly, you can expect to pay $100 to $230 just for a visit, not including additional costs such as parts.

Heating Costs

What is a Heating System?

A heating system is a mechanism that specializes in maintaining temperatures throughout our homes. Specifically, heating systems work at keeping our homes warm in cooler months. A heating system can either be a central system or split up throughout a home.

Types of Home Heating Systems


A very common, if not the most common option throughout homes in North America, furnaces work by blowing heated air through ducts that are placed throughout the home. This kind of heating system is known as a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system. They can be powered by electricity, natural gas or fuel oil. The most important part of a furnace is the thermostat which regulates turning the heat on and off. Most typical forced air systems will have a single thermostat.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps work by pumping air in and out of the home. Most heat pumps use forced warm-air delivery to move heated air throughout the home.


If your home has radiators, they are heated by your boiler. Simply put, boilers are special purpose water heaters that carry hot water through your home via radiators or other devices. This kind of hot water system is generally called a hydronic system. Boilers use natural gas or heating oil as fuel. Boilers use a pump to push water through pipes to get to the radiators. When it comes to controls, boilers use thermostats, aquastats, and valves that help to regulate the circulation and water temperature.

Common Heating Repairs & Their Costs

There are several common heating problems that can arise, which are all related to issues with the temperature. If you hear strange noises or notice your heat pump is constantly going, you should have it looked at by a professional. As you will learn below, most of these problems are caused by defects within the thermostat, condenser, or ductwork.


A broken heating component could result in your home not being properly heated or cooled. If you find this to be the case, check your thermostat. There are 3 categories of thermostat problems that can occur:

  • Faulty thermostat wiring
    In the case of faulty wiring, just the wiring will have to be replaced and the actual thermostat can be left alone. Costs for replacement wiring and labour start around $250.
  • Defective standard thermostat
    If the problem turns out to be with your actual thermostat, you will need to replace it. The average cost for a new thermostat and labour involved can range from $260 to $530, depending on the unit you choose.
  • Defective programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats are more expensive and take longer to install so the costs for repairs can run higher. You can expect to pay $120 to $200 for a replacement and labour.


Similar to standard AC units, heat pumps have separate condenser systems that are located outdoors. Common condenser issues include:

  • Obstructions or blockages
    It’s important to keep your condenser and the surrounding area free from debris. If snow or other materials have accumulated around it, your heat pump will not perform as expected. Try clearing the area around your condenser and see if that helps. If not, it’s time to bring in a professional.
  • Low refrigerant levels
    You can check your refrigerant levels first before calling in a professional. If your fan is running properly, the larger of your two refrigerant lines should feel warm. If it does not feel warm, you may have a leak or just need to add refrigerant.
  • Worn or damaged defrost control boards
    If you’ve noticed that your unit has had ice build up on it, this may be due to a faulty defrost control board. Should you need to replace your board, it will cost roughly $660 to $800.
  • Faulty timer motors
    If your model is older, it likely contains a timer motor that controls the defrost mechanism. You can expect to pay between $260 to $330 to replace this piece.


If you end up having to replace your ductwork, this will be the most costly expense. The exact costs will depend upon the extent/type of damage, however, this cost is typically lower than replacing your entire pump. Common ductwork related problems can be identified by poor air flow, condensation, and unusual noises. If you’re experiencing any of these, it could be the result of the following:

  • Ductwork leaks
  • Crimped ductwork
  • Improperly sized ducts
  • Poorly connected ductwork

Ductwork pricing depends on how much needs to be replaced and the extent of the ductwork problems. Typically replacing ductwork costs average from $45 to $70 per linear foot.

*Cost data provided by HomeAdvisor