How to Price-check Central Air-Heat Replacement

Posted by    |    April 30th, 2011 at 5:15 am

It has always been difficult to price shop the replacement of central air and heat equipment.  It’s not at all like it was when people primarily cooled their homes with window units and heated them from a separate forced air furnace.

In the window unit days, 12,500 was the size of a ton, and you knew if Carrier had a 1 ton unit for $500 and GE had one for $450, Carrier’s was the cheaper.

That’s not the case with central equipment.

Within the past several years, I’ve noticed the Dallas-Ft. Worth central air and heat contractors have become more and more aggressive as they try to attract new customers.

One of the common carnival-style barkers tells his name and then goes about the mistake he made when he overbought this year’s models.  He’s got to dump them right away to make room in his warehouse for next season’s models, he advises.

So says he’ll sell you the equipment at his cost if you’ll just pay the labor to install it and a small charge for overhead.  In fact, while he’s in your attic, he’ll have his men put in some more insulation and throw that in at no additional charge.

Another counters this guy’s offer by saying that he’ll install a high-efficiency 3 ton system for no more than $6,599.  And that his offer will prove that the other guy isn’t giving a special deal on over-bought equipment and giving away free insulation.

Here’s the bottom line.  In Dallas a new brand name central air-furnace unit with installation shouldn’t cost more than $1,300 to $1,500 per ton.  If there is some retrofitting involved because of the larger size of the new high-efficiency units, or the compressor has to be put above ground level, that will be extra.

Shop several dealers and several brands.  Recent governmental regulations have caused manufacturers to design their units to a standard, a standard that has fairly much made the need to pick by brand almost a non-issue.



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