There are a lot of ways to make your house more homey. You can decide to automate your house, add a swimming pool, build a new story, redo the tiles, upgrade the kitchen, etc. Or you may be thinking more towards invisible upgrades, like installing a central air conditioning system. But now you’re thinking further into the future, and there’s this voice in your head anxiously weighing the ROI of each option.
So how do you know if an invisible upgrade like installing a central AC would add any resale value to your house?
There are a lot of factors to consider, like the air conditioner installation cost, whether you’ll be able to sell it, what alternatives do you have, your house location & size, and quite some more.
Installing a Central AC system? Maybe worth it.
While people may not even notice if the system is new, they’ll definitely notice if it’s broken, worn out or doesn’t exist. You might have trouble getting the deal you want or even selling the house at all in that case, as buyers just expect it as a given basic home amenity.
On average, adding a central AC can increase your house’s value by 10%, a value that falls a few thousand bucks short of the costs, especially if you’re planning to put it up for sale soon.
Alternative Cooling Systems to Central AC
If you’re wondering whether the central AC is the best option for a cooling system or not, there are two other cooling systems to choose from: ductless split systems, and window units.
The central AC systems operate with a compressor coil placed outside the home. It connects to vents in each room through metal ducts, which cools and dehumidifies the entire house. Ductless split AC uses a similar configuration, but it attaches to wall mounted AC units designed to handle a single room. Window units combine the compressor coil and the rest of the AC components into one package.
If you’re wondering about the added value of a central AC in your house, you might want to consider some other things:
Does the location of your house need the presence of an AC?
If you’re living in a area with mild summer weather, then adding an AC will be more for show than actual use. There’s no real need for it.
Do you already have an existing ductwork/forced air of an old system?
According to U.S. Department of Energy, the average lifespan of central air-conditioning system is 12- to 15- years. Heat pumps have about the same lifespan — about 14 years — when recommended maintenance is followed. If your current system is relatively new (a couple of years old), and it’s in good working order, then a new one is not necessary after all.
If you already have an existing ductwork or forced air a decade or so old, chances are that upgrading them will be more economical than getting getting a ductless split AC for each room. However, if the current HVAC system is more than 15-20 years old, it might be wiser to replace the entire system to increase resale value. Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
If you don’t have any ductwork, it will cost much less to install a ductless split system, saving you all of the construction mess and time… but maybe not in case you have a multiple story house in which all of the rooms need AC.
How big is your house unit?
While ductless split systems have their advantages, they just don’t have enough power to cool a large house. If your house is large, say more +2,500 feet, installing a central AC would be a better option.
How much are you willing to pay for the cooling system?
A good ductless single indoor unit will cost you a couple thousand dollars, and could go even higher for more energy efficient models. However, installing a full central AC system with all of its ductwork and heat pumps will be even more expensive. Deciding on the central AC system will depend on many factors. Putting an average of how much the central AC will cost you in this case will be absurd, it’s just too wide a range.
If you’ve already decided on central AC, these are some tips to keep in mind:
Sizing is done right
Too small a unit won’t be able to cool the house effectively, too oversized and it’ll cool it too quickly without effectively dehumidifying the air.
Energy Efficiency & Going Green
The more the new homeowners can save on heating and cooling costs, the more value they will place on the system. In general, today’s systems must be 14 SEER—which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, one of the official ratings of a system’s efficiency.
Adding a Heat Pump
This can increase the value of your system by making it more efficient.
The Systems’ Features
Features like having a variable speed air handler, a fan-only option, and a special filter light that indicates when the filter should be changed are important to have.
Make the Winter Purchase
Generally, you’ll find more sales and discounts in winter on HVAC systems.
At the end of the day, you need to balance the way your HVAC system works and its appearance to others. After you consider all of your options, installing a central AC system might be worth the effort and investment after all! There are a lot of advantages and cooling in general is becoming more and more of a necessity in this day in age. Once you actually know all the ins and outs of how to install and maintain a central AC, it’s definitely worth the investment.