How Much Should I Spend On an Air Conditioner?

July 26, 2023

Spend-on-an-air conditioner

What should you spend on an air conditioner? Before you can know, many elements come into play: how large the space you’re cooling is, do you have existing ductwork, and what your budget is. Air source heat pumps, generally in the $6,000 – $ $16,000 range, are having a very big moment because Ontario energy rebates are providing up to (in total) $6,500 if you install one now, their ability to heat and cool through one appliance makes them very energy efficient. Central air conditioning comes in around $7,000 – $20,000. A single window-style or portable air conditioner can be purchased for approximately $600 – $1,400, depending on the number of units or the cooling strength required.

In London, ON, Plumbhouse Plumbing, Heating, and Electrical have professional licensed plumbers, electricians, and HVAC specialists on staff with years of experience to ensure we install the cooling product that works best for you. 

Call us at (519) 453 4650 or reach us online for a new home HVAC or Air Source Heat Pump quote.

Remember that more work is required if you need new (or more) ducts, a replacement element of a current HVAC system, or a thermostat, and it will change the amount you would spend on a new cooling system.

Let’s look at the different cooling systems available for your consideration. What you choose will help you know what to spend on an air conditioner:

1) Heat Pump System: 

3 different types of heat pump systems are available, air-source, mini-split, and geothermal. 

  • Widespread in warmer climates, advanced technology has brought high-efficiency heat pumps to cooler parts of the world like Canada.
  • (Ductless) air-source heat pumps are by far the most popular. 
  • They exchange outside air for cooled or heated air and are energy efficient, allowing for up to 50% savings on electricity bills. 
  • On top of being a high-efficiency choice, energy rebates make heat pumps very popular. 
  • Expect to pay around $7,000 – $10,000 for this system.

2) Three central AC systems vary in what you can spend on an air conditioner:

3 types of central air systems are available, single-unit central air conditioners, split system (HVAC) central air conditioners, and (ductless) mini-split systems. 

  • HVAC and mini-splits have two components, an outdoor and an indoor unit. 
  • Single-unit ACs house all elements in their outdoor component (using your existing ducts through which to push cold air)
  • Single-unit and HVAC central air conditioning systems are best for cooling and humidifying whole houses or buildings. 
  • Mini-split systems are better for smaller spaces or houses without ducts (that use radiators, for example)

Single-unit central air conditioners:

  • An outdoor compressor and blower unit send cooled air through the ductwork. 
  • This system is priced from $5,000 – $7,500.

Split-system central air conditioners:

  • Also known as the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System. 
  • Using your existing furnace ductwork, an HVAC system’s heating and cooling share the ducting system and the interior element housing the furnace components.
  • The outdoor element is your air conditioner.
  • The inside elements are your furnace, ductwork, air handler, and wall thermostat.
  • The cost of these double-duty systems is wide-ranging, between $7,000 – $15,000, depending on the capacity and size of the system required.

Ductless mini split systems: 

  • These consist of an exterior condenser and air handlers located on the walls of different rooms of your home or apartment.
  • They are ideal for houses or buildings that do not have existing ducts, for example, homes that use radiators. 
  • The price is wide-ranging, from $3,000 – $15,000, depending on the number of air handlers.

4) Portable Air Conditioners: 

  • Portable air conditioners are easy to install by one person. 
  • Apartments or houses without central air or ducting (for example, homes with radiators) use them as a financially affordable way to keep cool. 
  • A window kit attaches one end to the air conditioner, and the other attaches to a window’s opened portion. A tight seal must be achieved with the supplied foam weather stripping and sealing strips insulation.
  • It expels the unit’s hot air outside. 
  • Condensed water is removed from the unit via a tube at the bottom of the unit. 
  • The price of $600 – $1,200 will depend on how many square feet you need to cool.

5) Window-Mounted Air Conditioners: 

  • A single-hung (sometimes called a double-hung) window is needed to install a window-mounted air conditioner. 
  • It is also a single-unit system, housing all necessary components in one unit.
  • It is the least expensive kind of air conditioner, costing $300 – $600, depending on the room size. 
  • You may need two units for larger areas or two levels.

How much to spend on an air conditioner will also depend on the square footage of the area to be cooled.

You should make sure the contractor/installer performs a Manual J-load calculation. Because energy efficiency has improved, you might otherwise have a unit too large suggested to you. It might cycle on and off too often, costing you more and not humidifying your home correctly. 

BTUs must match the system installed.

  • 200 – 300 sq ft = 2,000 – 6,000 BTUs
  • 400 – 900 sq ft = 8,000 – 15,000 BTUs
  • 1,000 – 1,500 sq ft = 20,000 – 30,000 BTUs
  • 1,700 – 2,500 sq ft = 35,000 – 50,000 BTUs

Zoned air conditioning systems:

Consider using separate thermostats using mechanical dampers that can direct air where needed most. A zoned system works well for buildings that may have some rooms inadequately ventilated (and may therefore be too cold or too hot) It’s also a good system for unoccupied areas of a building.


A Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating ensures high efficiency for many products. A rating of 13- 14 is the standard rating for Ontario in 2023. You’ll save money overall in heating and cooling costs. Although a higher SEER rating means a high initial cost, it supports a healthy planet for all of us.

Published by
July 26, 2023 10:31 am

Categorised in: