To make the process of replacing your home’s HVAC easier, the ModHVAC Calculator offers system recommendations and a quick estimate of your replacement costs to save you the guesswork. To use the tool, just slide the bar in the green box to match your home’s square footage. Then enter your city and state below and click Calculate Cost. Seconds later, you’ll be provided with a set of options for your new HVAC unit.
Chicago Buying Guide for HVAC Systems
Chicago residents who are considering replacement or installation of an HVAC system have many choices to make before beginning their project. The following article outlines the HVAC buying process and discusses the common types of HVAC systems and considerations you should take before signing on the dotted line.
Hiring an HVAC contractor in Chicago
This first step is one of the most important steps in the process. Since your contractor will lead you through the entire process, it is important that you choose a contractor that:
- you feel comfortable with
- has the necessary certifications, licenses and insurance coverage required by your state
- has the experience and HVAC knowledge required to install the equipment correctly
Choosing a contractor and receiving a competitive price for your job requires that you obtain at least three estimates from reputable HVAC contractors. Due diligence is required to understand the difference between contractor estimates. Compare the estimates, verify what you are paying for, and choose the one that fits your budget and meets the requirements listed above. Before signing the agreement, verify references, licenses, and insurance as well as the contractors’ standing with the Better Business Bureau for outstanding complaints or lawsuits.
The Chicago HVAC Permit Process
New HVAC installation requires that you obtain a permit from your local building department. Most HVAC companies include the cost of the permitting process in their estimate which also includes pulling the permit. Chicago residents can obtain permitting information by visiting the City of Chicago website where a wealth of additional information is available. You can also contact them by calling (311) 744-5000 or by mail at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602.
Exploring HVAC Options in Chicago, Illinois
When it comes to HVAC systems, many options are available and the system you choose should be tailored to your needs. HVAC contractors can ascertain the size and type of system best suited for your property. Your main concern should be conveying to the contractor the desired energy efficiency of the new equipment. Keep in mind the more energy efficient the equipment, the higher the upfront cost you will incur. You will recoup the additional costs over time, usually three to five years in energy savings.
Types of HVAC Systems for your Chicago Home
There are many types of HVAC systems with varying degrees of efficiency ratings. The type best suited for your property will be determined between you and your contractor depending on your property’s square footage, the system’s energy efficiency, and costs. Below you will find a breakdown of the three most common types of forced air HVAC systems used in residential applications.
Central Air Conditioners
Central AC systems utilize a duct system to distribute cool air throughout your home. Split system air conditioners incorporate both an inside and outside component to produce the conditioned air. Refrigerant circulates between the condensing and evaporator coils cooling the air as it passes through the evaporator coil. A blower assembly — fan and motor — provides the necessary circulation to distribute the conditioned air.
A heat pump is an energy efficient variation of a central air conditioner but also produces heat. They work by transferring the inside heat outside during the summer months to cool the home, and extracting heat from the outside air or ground to the inside during the winter months to warm it. Heat pump systems are one of the most energy efficient systems available today. Although a heat pump carries a higher upfront cost, you can recoup the additional expense in energy savings over the next several years.
A furnace is part of the forced air HVAC family as well. Many homes in the colder climates of the Northeast rely on furnaces to provide heat with the most common using gas combustion or electric resistance heat strips to warm the air. A blower assembly is used distribute the heated air throughout the home’s duct-work. Since a furnace is only capable of producing heat it is sometimes retrofitted with a central air conditioner or heat pump to provide cool air during the summer months.
Where to Purchase HVAC Systems in Chicago
HVAC contractors and companies usually provide their customers with HVAC systems and related equipment through manufacturers with whom they have a working relationship. This is not to say they cannot get the brand you desire, only that they push their brands for internal incentives and bonuses. Home improvement centers offer an attractive alternative versus individual contractors as they sometimes offer inexpensive financing options to attract your business. They also offer extended warranties for purchase that can extend the warranty period significantly for your new HVAC equipment.
Financing Options for HVAC Installation
The average cost of a new HVAC system can range between $3000 to $8000 dollars and can vary significantly depending on the size and parameters of the property. Cash, home equity loans, credit cards, and personal loans are the traditional payment methods. However, financing options are usually available through your HVAC contractor or big box retailer that are competitive with traditional lending institutions, so do your homework before making a decision.
Chicago HVAC Incentives and Rebates
Depending on the type of HVAC system you purchase, you may qualify for special incentives or rebate programs available in your state for energy efficiency. Rebates and tax credits are also sometimes available through the federal government by purchasing Energy Star rated equipment and appliances. You can view a comprehensive list of available programs, incentives, rebates, and green loans for your area by visiting the DSIRE website. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency provides a searchable database, state by state, for available programs in your area.