Home Renovation 4 MIN READ

How Much Value Central Air Adds to Homes (+ when to install)

Central Air Conditioning unit outside brick house with porch Written by Carly Biggs

One thing many homeowners obsess over is how to increase the value of their homes. Listen, I get it. When the moment comes for you to sell your house, you want to laugh all the way to the bank.

That’s why in this article, I’ll tell you just how much your home will increase in value when adding central air (and when to best install to maximize profits).

Let’s get started!

When is Adding Central Air a Good Idea?

coastal city with ocean view

I’m the type of person who needs central air no matter where I live (because sleeping with the thermostat on 60 degrees is absolutely necessary). However, for a lot of people, it may not be a requirement.

For example, in many regions of the United States, it’s rare to witness summer days broach the upper 70s, so a central air conditioner may be regarded as a nice-to-have but not a need-to-have.

A good rule of thumb is to add central air if you’re in one of the following situations:

  • You Live in a Humid Climate – For many homeowners in the humid and hot Southeastern United States, air conditioning has become a necessity for everyday life. In short: Central air systems lower the temperature and relative humidity of your home. And where humidity is reduced, comfort is increased.
  • You Plan on Using the HVAC System Before Selling – Sadly, installing a central air system in your home can be quite expensive, and the added value to your home will not fully recoup the installation cost. If you’ve been on the fence about adding a new HVAC system, it might make sense to install and use it for several years before selling.
  • You Live in a Hot Climate and Don’t Have Any Air Conditioning System – Individual window-mounted air conditioning units can cost over $150 each and add no value to your home. If you can strike a favorable deal on central air installation (and you’re in the market for air conditioning), choosing central air over window-mounted units might be a viable option.
  • You Already Have a Forced Air Heating System – Adding a cooling component to a forced air heating system is a much easier and cheaper process than installing a new central air system altogether. Without the need to install ductwork, you can upgrade your existing setup to include central air (and increase your home’s value) for less money.

How to Protect your Wallet During Installation

It’s a shame, but installing central air is considered to be an “invisible upgrade.” Which is to say that although it’s something many homeowners value, it doesn’t come top-of-mind as much as a large backyard, remodeled kitchen, or pool. This means that if you want to add more zeros to your selling price, you need to significantly decrease the price of installing an HVAC system.

In which case, prior to installing a new central air system, consider these tips:

  • Purchase the Right Sized System for Your Home – Most HVAC systems are rated for the amount of air they can process in a given period of time, but bigger does not always mean better. An HVAC system with a higher tonnage rating may cool your home quicker, but it will not remove as much humidity as an appropriately sized system, leaving your home less comfortable overall.
  • Take Advantage of Off Season Discounts – Waiting until the winter can save you upwards of 20% on the installation of a new central air system. Many HVAC repair and installation companies are willing to lower their costs to drive revenues during slower months.
  • Maximize Efficiency – While adding an efficient HVAC system may increase the upfront costs of installation, many states provide incentives to decrease central air costs and improve overall energy efficiency. Additionally, an efficient HVAC system provides the added benefit of lowered monthly heating and cooling bills.
  • Use Pre-Existing Air Ducts – If your home already has existing ductwork from an older HVAC system, this can reduce the installation costs by thousands of dollars. Your contractor can simply connect the new central air system to the older ducts and pass the savings onto you. Be mindful that not all ducts are well-designed ducts. That’s why it’s imperative that your contractor looks for any leaks in the existing ductwork prior to the installation.

While not every homeowner will be able to utilize all of these cost-saving tips, the idea is to maximize your investment by being nimble about the initial touchpoint. 

The Verdict on Adding Central Air

Young couple reviewing their finances

Ok, so how much money are we talking about? Well, On average, homebuyers are willing to pay roughly $2,500 extra for a house with central air, but this is certainly less than what it will cost you to install a new system. If you live in an area where central air systems are in nearly every home, adding an HVAC system will boost your property’s sellability. 

However, if you aren’t in the market for an in-home air conditioning unit and live in an area where central air conditioning systems are not an expectation, perhaps saving your money for another project is the move to make.

If you’re already in the market for an air conditioning solution and your home’s value isn’t your driving motive, then integrating a system is a win-win. And at the end of the day, there are ways to mitigate the installation sticker shock. 

With that being said, can anyone put a price on a chilled room during a stark hot day in the dead of summer? 


Money. 5 Things to Know Before You Add Central Air Conditioning. https://money.com/central-air-conditioning-need-to-know/

The Nest. Does Installing Central Air Increase the Value of a Home? https://budgeting.thenest.com/installing-central-air-increase-value-home-32723.html

Energy.gov. State Energy Offices and Organizations. https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/state-energy-offices-and-organizations

SF Gate. Does Installing Central Air Increase the Value of a Home? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/installing-central-air-increase-value-home-63011.html

Motley Fool. Should You Install Central Air? https://www.fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-market/articles/should-you-install-central-air/

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