Your HVAC Is Due For An Upgrade: A Guide On How To Choose One

Last Updated on March 8, 2022 by Kravelv

Suppose your HVAC specialist has told you that it’s time to upgrade your system, and you’re not sure where to start. What new type of system should you choose, and how do you prepare for it? Buying a new system is one of the most important purchases you can make for your home.

This blog post will discuss the different HVAC systems available for your home. We’ll also provide tips on preparing for your new system so that the installation process goes as smoothly as possible. So, whether you need a new furnace or air conditioner, read on for what to consider before making your purchase.

hvac unit outside a residential home

Why Should You Upgrade Your System?

Are you noticing a decline in your HVAC’s performance? Then, it’s a good idea to consider replacing your HVAC system before it fails. By approaching the subject in this way, you can ensure enough time to research and price the different options available to you.

Upgrading your HVAC systems is not a job to be taken lightly; as such, there should be viable reasons why you want to upgrade. For instance, upgrading your system with the newest Energy Star-rated models can save you approximately $200 per year on utilities. There are many reasons you may want to upgrade, the most common is if it’s more than ten years old. But, there are other reasons too, such as high energy bills or poor indoor air quality in your home.

You may also want to upgrade your system to remodel your home or install new windows. Any time you make changes to your home that affect the airflow, you should consider upgrading your HVAC system.

What Types of Systems Are Available?

Most homeowners know how an HVAC system works, but what does HVAC do? If you’re unsure about what your HVAC system is, essentially, it’s a complex network of technology that allows homeowners and business owners to control the heating and cooling temperatures of their space.

While there are many categories and subcategories of HVAC systems, it’s essential to know the four main types: Split systems, hybrid systems, ductless systems, and packaged heating and air systems.

By learning more about each of these systems and talking to a professional, you can better decide what serves your needs best. Ideally, you need to choose appropriately sized units that work with your budget.

  • Split Systems: The most common example of HVAC systems is “split” between two primary units (one for cooling and one for heating.)
  • Ductless Systems: Usually has an outside air conditioner for cooling and a heat pump for cooling and heating. They are used in homes where traditional ductwork isn’t possible.
  • Hybrid Systems: This is also an advanced version of the split system equipped with more energy-efficient units. Generally, it is a hybrid-electric heater.
  • Packaged Systems: It has high-quality heating and cooling units combined into one. Used in homes without basements for the most part, and it is installed outdoors.

If you researched the topic enough, you could learn quite a bit about HVAC units; however, we will touch on four of the most common systems for residences. We will discuss what they are and some pros and cons of each system.

Standard AC And Furnace Split System

These systems usually pair a central air conditioner and a furnace that burns fossil fuels; they are still the most common system out there. These systems are called “forced air” because a blower in the furnace circulates air through the ductwork and into your living spaces.

Most systems burn either Natural Gas or Liquid Propane; thankfully, technicians can easily convert NG into LP if the option is available. Heating Oil is also used but is much less common; usually, a company cannot change it into either of the other two options.


  • Low equipment costs compared to heat pump split systems, mini-split heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps.
  • Lower operating costs, especially when considering NG versus electric furnaces.


  • Forced Air systems usually push dust and other allergens around your home and dry out the air.
  • Ductwork is required and must be maintained.

Standard Heat Pump and Air Handler Split System

As a fast-growing sector of the residential HVAC market, these combinations are installed regularly into homes every day. They are also known as air source heat pumps to distinguish them from geothermal heat pumps. The heat pumps provide heating and air conditioning with electricity; they do this by circulating refrigerants using a compressor.

The indoor unit is an air handler that generally circulates the cooled or heated air through the system with a blower.


  • Low equipment costs are less expensive than mini-split systems and geothermal heat pumps.
  • Low operating cost because air source heat pumps have lower annual energy costs than most electrical furnaces, gas furnaces, and boilers systems.


  • It has forced air, spreading dust and odors around the home while drying the air.
  • It has a lower efficiency in cold climates because most heat pumps cannot effectively heat subfreezing temperatures without resistance heat. In addition, this type of supplement is quite expensive.

Standard Heat Pump And Gas/Oil Furnace Split System (Dual Fuel)

These systems, also known as hybrid heating, heat the air with a heat pump when outdoor temperatures are above freezing. With ease, the system can switch between the furnace heat and back to the heat pump. Otherwise, it is a mirrored version of the Standard Heat Pump and Air Handler. The pros and cons of this system are generally the same as the Standard Heat Pump and Air Handler, with a couple of exceptions.


  • It can be more effective when heating colder temperatures.


  • A dual fuel system is not as cost-effective as an AC and furnace or heat pump option.

Mini Split Heat Pump System

These systems have earned their place in the market recently with boosted sales. Their popularity is growing because they offer more competitive costs, they are only getting more efficient, and mini-split systems’ heat pumps can effectively heat subfreezing temperatures.

Typically you’ll have Single-zone systems and Multizone systems.

Single-zone systems have one outdoor unit and one indoor unit, and multizone systems have an outdoor unit that serves up to 8 indoor units. The heat pumps operate very similarly to standard heat pumps, although they use inverter technology. As a result, heat pumps run at low capacities and only ramp up as needed to maintain an even temperature.

You’ll also recognize these systems as ductless systems because they don’t require ducts, but you can still use them with mini-split systems if needed.


  • Lower operating costs than electric furnaces, gas furnaces, boiler systems, and many standard split system heat pumps.
  • Higher efficiency than most systems
  • Fantastic value with up to 38 SEER ratings.
  • Ductwork is not required.


  • Higher costs than conventional split heat systems.
  • Repairs can be more costly and time-consuming because parts are harder to find.

What To Look For When Researching The Best HVAC System

When considering the best HVAC system for your home, you should always consider how various heating and cooling units will influence your indoor temperature, energy consumption, and air quality.  Whether you’re remodeling or building new construction, it’s essential to ensure that the system addresses any issues highlighted by your trained professional.


It should always be a key concern, as you don’t want to invest in a system that will quickly become outdated. The minimum SEER rating should be 14, but you may need something more efficient depending on your climate and home.


You don’t want to choose a system that’s too large or too small for your home. If it’s oversized, it will cycle on and off frequently, increasing energy costs and putting more strain on the system. However, since manufacturers rate systems by BTUs or British Thermal Units, the higher the value, the greater the capacity.


You may not realize it, but your HVAC needs regular maintenance like a car to operate efficiently. So buy a low-maintenance system and cost-efficient from the start. Then, when getting your system installed, perhaps you could negotiate a service plan from a company that offers annual check-ups and discounts on repairs and labor.


While finances shouldn’t be the only factor, they are one of the factors that will influence your decision. The cheapest system isn’t always better, and you could save money on energy and repair costs if you go with the better approach.

Smart Thermostat

Recent advancements in technology have led to the development of smart thermostats. A smart thermostat can save you up to 30% on your energy bill, and it’s an excellent investment for your HVAC system. In addition, homeowners can program intelligent thermostats to adjust the temperature when you’re not home, and you can control it from your phone.

Preparing For Your HVAC Installation

Preparing to purchase or replace your old HVAC system isn’t a split-second decision. Often, it requires dedication to research into your specific situation. While you can prepare, usually, it is best to get trained HVAC contractors to perform the necessary property assessments.

Now, prepare yourself. Generally, HVAC installations cost around $6,800-$12,350 with new ductwork, a new central air conditioner, and a gas furnace. However, not all situations require ductwork, in which case you could pay $4,800-$9,300 depending on factors like the size of your home, the contractor’s fees, or the brand of equipment you choose.

The company’s you get quotes from must have the proper HVAC certification to do the work by the book. When a contractor comes to your home to prepare for a new installation, they will do several things.

  • Estimate Your Replacement Costs – Measure the square footage of your home. Knowing the square footage can help you determine the size of the system you need. They will also perform load calculations based on the climate, the size of your property, and its ability to contain the air.
  • Recommendations – The contractor will make recommendations based on the information they collected. They will advise you on the type and size of the HVAC system you need and any repairs to ductwork or other necessary structures for the new system.

It’s important to note that even though a contractor has advised you of the situation and given their estimate, everything isn’t set in stone until you get it written into a contract.

Factors That Influence HVAC Replacement Costs

Some factors affect what is required to complete the job and upgrade your system and its efficiency to the highest possible operation. In short, this means that other structures or working conditions will affect the cost of your contractor’s services.

The following are some of these factors:

  • The Age of Your Home – If your home is more than 15 years old, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to replace some of your ductwork. However, if it’s older than 30 years old, the entire system will require replacement.
  • Project Difficulty – If it’s harder to reach your current system because of its location, it will typically cost more to replace. A small attic, an attic filled with blown insulation, or the need for custom-made pieces all affect installation costs. A company that can do a little HVAC problem solving proves its reliability and professionalism.
  • Replace Ductwork – If your ducts are leaking or a company installed them incorrectly, then you’ll need to replace your ductwork.
  • Add Ductwork – If you don’t have any ducts, you’ll need to have some installed to use a central air conditioning system.
  • Additional Structures – If your home has a basement, garage, or other structures that you heat and cool, a more extensive system will be required.
  • HVAC Labor Rates – While you can estimate your costs online, they vary by company. The average hourly rate can be $50-$75 or about 40%-50% of the total costs. But, again, it depends on the HVAC training levels required to do your specific job.

How To Choose The Best Contractor For Your HVAC Installation

When it comes time to choose the best contractor for your installation, you need to consider several things. Of course, hiring a qualified, licensed, and insured contractor is the most critical task. Here are some other tips to help you find the best company out there.

  • Do research – perhaps this is a given, but look up the requirements for contractors in your area regarding licensing and insurance.
  • Call references – ask a potential contractor for references and call them. Determine how the installation process went and their overall performance. For example, was the job completed on time and within the budget?
  • How thorough are they – since new HVAC is vital to the comfort of your home, you want it done right. So ask the technician to do a comprehensive survey and look at all factors involved in the installation.
  • Are there rebates –  many contractors will offer rebates if you pay a certain way or use a particular energy-efficient system like Energy Star-rated equipment.
  • Compare written contracts –  make sure to have a contractor provide you with a written agreement that outlines the entire project, from start to finish. The document should include the materials for the job, start and completion dates, and a list of any sub-contractors necessary for the job.

By taking the time to do your research, you’ll find the best contractor to install your new HVAC system and ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Final Thoughts

No one ever wants to think about their HVAC system breaking down in the middle of a heatwave or blizzard, but if it does, you’ll be happy you have Cullerton HVAC Inc. on your side. We provide top-notch installation, repair, and maintenance services for all makes and models of heating and cooling systems.

Our family-owned and operated business has provided affordable service to Arlington Heights residents and businesses since 1978. So whether you need a new AC unit installed or just want to make sure your current system is running at peak performance, give us a call. We’re here to help.

Kravelv is a full time digital marketer and part time furniture and cabinet maker. During his free time he would like to create something out of recycled woods, this varies from toys, furnitures plant boxes etc. Follow him on Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook