Cost to Install an Air Conditioner in Colorado
March 30, 2017
Wondering how much it costs to install a new central air conditioner?
There are plenty of things to consider when replacing your Colorado home's AC unit, but what you’ll end up paying depends on these 6 main cost factors:
Air conditioner size
Air conditioner efficiency
Straight cool vs. heat pump air conditioner
The A/C features you choose
The warranty you choose
Other installation costs
Let’s explore these cost factors in more detail.
Cost factor #1: Air conditioner size
The size of your air conditioner will greatly affect how much you pay for the installation. The bigger your A/C unit (in tons), the more expensive it will be.
Air conditioner size is measured in tons, but it doesn’t have to do with weight. A ton is the ability of an air conditioner to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) in 1 hour.
What’s a BTU, you ask?
A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the amount of energy required to cool 1 pound of water by 1° Fahrenheit. Relating it back to tons, this means a 1-ton air conditioner can cool 12,000 BTUs of water by 1° every hour.
Most residential air conditioners range from 1 to 5 tons, but you’ll need a technician’s help to find the right A/C size for you...
How do I find the right size A/C for my home?
Air conditioner sizing is determined by a Manual J Load Calculation.
This calculation takes into account many factors like the size, shape, insulation and local climate of your home to find the right air conditioner size.
It’s a complex calculation but don’t worry—you don’t have to crunch the numbers. A certified professional has the right knowledge and tools to perform this calculation.
Cost factor #2: Air conditioner efficiency
Another factor that affects the cost of your air conditioner is efficiency. The greater an air conditioner’s efficiency, the more expensive it will be.
Air conditioner efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). You can think of SEER as how well an A/C unit uses energy to cool your home during a typical cooling season.
A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency. In Colorado, the regulated minimum SEER rating required for air conditioners is 13, but you can find ratings as high as 21.
Though higher SEER ratings are more expensive, they can lower your monthly electric bill because they use less energy to cool your home.
Cost factor #3: Straight cool vs. heat pump air conditioner
Heat pumps are more expensive than a regular, straight cool air conditioner. But of course they are! Heat pumps also provide heating in the winter.
So if you’re looking to replace your heating and cooling system in Colorado, it may be worth looking into a heat pump. They’re energy efficient and can heat your home, even in cold climates.
But if you already have a furnace or other type of heating system, it will be cheaper to get a straight cool air conditioner.
Cost factor #4: The A/C features you choose
Air conditioners come with different features, much like add-ons when you buy a new car. Some A/C features will make your total out-of-pocket more expensive.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common A/C features and how they affect price:
1-stage vs. 2-stage vs. variable speed: This refers to the speed of an air conditioner’s compressor, which is what circulates refrigerant in the system. Variable speed compressors (and, to a lesser extent, 2-stage compressors) provide the maximum amount of energy savings and comfort for your home. As a result, these are more expensive than 1-stage compressors.
Weather protection: You can opt to buy covers (like these) that will protect your A/C unit from harsh weather and debris. Adding one of these will increase what you end up paying.
Hail guard: These are usually made of a rigid, black netting that permits air flow while blocking hail from your air conditioner. Adding one of these to your air conditioner will make it more expensive.
Noise reduction features: These include things like dampening strips, compressor insulation/mounts, noise-reducing fan blades and variable speed blowers—all of which add to your total out-of-pocket.
Safety features: Features like ventilators, UV air purifiers, high-efficiency filters and humidifiers make your home’s air safer and healthier, but they also cost more.
Cost factor #5: The warranty you choose
The more extensive the warranty, the more expensive it will be.
Most air conditioner manufacturers will typically offer a warranty that covers parts like:
The condenser coil
The evaporator coil
Usually these parts are covered under warranty for 1 to 10 years (depending on the brand). If you decide to add any additional warranties that extend that timeframe, just know you’ll end up paying more.
Cost factor #6: Other installation costs
In addition to the expenses of a new A/C unit, there are other installation factors that determine cost:
Pulling permits: Contractors in Colorado are required to pull permits, which means there’s usually an additional fee built into your installation quote.
Your home’s existing ductwork: If a contractor finds that your home’s existing ductwork needs serious repair, or if your new A/C unit is a different size, your contractor may need to make modifications to your ductwork. This will increase what you pay.
Accessibility: If your home’s old indoor A/C system is difficult to remove, the installation may take longer, which will increase the cost of labor.
Need an A/C installer in Colorado?
Contact Plumbline for a free installation estimate. We’ve been serving Colorado since 1998.
- Buyer's Guide