Best HVAC Replacement & Central AC Installation Services in Chicago

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How Much Does an HVAC Replacement Cost?

Average cost: $5,400 - $19,800. Use Modernize's calculator to estimate your HVAC project.

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Average Cost for HVAC Replacement in Chicago

The average cost to replace your home’s HVAC system in Chicago can range from $3,200 to $12,540 for a single story 2,000 square foot home. This price estimate would include replacing your home’s current ductwork. It is highly advisable to get at least 4 price quotes from multiple contractors to get a fair price on installing a new cooling and heating unit.

Hiring a Local Chicago HVAC Contractor

This first step is one of the most important steps in the HVAC replacement process. Since your contractor will lead you through the entire process, it is important that you choose a reliable Chicago 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 your new HVAC unit 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.

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HVAC Replacement Options in Chicago

There are many varieties of new air conditioner installation options in Chicago. While most residential homes have central air conditioning systems in Illinois, there are still lots of houses that have ductless and multi split HVAC units that can get the job done depending on your home’s needs. If you’re looking for a new air cooling system for a new construction home or looking to replace your old central AC unit, here are some things to consider when choosing the best system for your HVAC replacement.

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.

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.

Installing Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners are a general preference for homes and buildings where the weather is hot more often than not. There are two replacement HVAC types for central AC systems: the packaged AC system and the split-type central air conditioner. 

Packaged systems use central air and are placed as part of an HVAC system, often coupled with your home’s current ductwork and a gas furnace for heating. If your home has existing ductwork for ventilation, a packaged air conditioning system is the best choice for your Chicago home as it can offer the most efficient way to heat and cool the entire home efficiently. If you already have ductwork installed simply replacing your current AC unit with a new one is often the best route and the most cost effective. 

On the other hand, a split air conditioner is a two-piece AC system composed of an external compressor and an internal fan mechanism. The benefits of a multi split air conditioner is they are quieter indoor mechanisms and have higher efficiency ratings than other air cooling systems. A mini split-type air conditioner unit could cost you from $700 to $2,000 for the unit alone, which can sometimes be cheaper than alternative central AC systems. If your home has no existing duct system, a ductless split system will most likely be the best option if you are on a budget or want more control over individual room temperatures as each room (or cooling zone) can be fitted with it’s own indoor unit to control temperatures. 

Central AC system installations 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.

Heat Pump Installation

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.

New Furnace Installation

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. Find the top furnace brands here.

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Window Air Conditioner Installation

Window-type units have an independent mechanism that comes in different sizes. Commonly, they are placed permanently in home windows and are fast to install. Window-type air conditioners have lower costs that range from $150 to $500 depending on the size, brand, and features of the product. But, the downside is that not all house designs support this type. Window-type units are also quite hard to insulate, which may permit outdoor air to get inside your home.  Window air conditioners are good for small apartments or heating and cooling of one room/garage areas. You will have much more trouble cooling and heating your home fast and efficiently with a window installed air conditioner.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners have a similar look to dehumidifiers. They are a boxed-type cooling system  that has wheels. Mobile types need to have a vent mechanism going outdoors, which is usually provided along with the whole unit package when you purchase it. Some brands can self-evaporate, but for most portable AC units, you will need to empty the water receptacle regularly. 

Homeowners who frequently travel prefer this type of air conditioning system as it can be transported from one place to another. However, because of its portability, it is more costly than a window-type unit. Moreover, as it is inside your room, it can add unnecessary noise to your surroundings. For some models, you will also need to frequently drain the condensation receptacle, which can be a hassle if it is quickly filled. Portable units cost from $500 to $700.

Chicago HVAC Permits

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.

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.