As temperatures begin to rise, many homeowners realize the importance of a well-functioning air conditioning system. For those living in an old house without air conditioning, the thought of adding one can be daunting. The cost of adding AC to an old house can vary depending on factors such as the house’s size, existing ductwork, and the type of AC system chosen. In this article, we will discuss the average cost of adding AC to an old house and provide insight into the different options available to homeowners.

1. “Factors that Affect the Cost of Adding AC to an Old House”

How Much Does It Cost to Add AC to an Old House?

Adding air conditioning to an old house can significantly impact your comfort and improve the overall value of your home. However, it can also come with a hefty price tag, as various factors can affect the total cost of installation. Here are some of the primary factors that can influence the cost of adding AC to an old house.

1. Size of Your Home

The larger your home, the more powerful and expensive AC unit you will require. The size will also affect the ductwork, installation, and electrical requirements.

2. Type of Air Conditioner

There are various types of air conditioning units, such as central AC, ductless mini-splits, window units, and portable AC. Some types of AC may be more suitable for your home than others. They also differ in price, with central air conditioning units being the most expensive.

3. Condition of Existing Ductwork

If your old house has existing ductwork, replacing or upgrading them can affect the total cost of installation. If they are in poor condition or outdated, your technician may recommend replacing them, adding to the cost of installation.

4. Labor Costs

The cost of labor can vary depending on the complexity of the installation, type of AC unit, and location of your home. Labor costs can also increase if there are any retrofits or modifications required to your old house.

5. Energy Efficiency and Features

Energy-efficient air conditioners may cost more upfront, but they can help you save money in the long run. Features such as programmable thermostats, Wi-Fi enabled, and smart technology can cost extra but can provide added convenience and efficiency.

Knowing the factors that affect the cost of adding AC to your old house can help you prepare for the expenses. It’s essential to work with a trusted HVAC professional to determine the best options and estimate the total costs of installation.

2. “Why Retrofitting Your Old House Could Make AC Installation More Expensive”

Retrofitting an old house to accommodate modern HVAC systems can be complicated. In many cases, older homes were not designed to handle the electrical and mechanical demands of a central air conditioning system. As a result, retrofitting an old house for AC installation requires skilled technicians who can ensure that the new system works safely and efficiently.

One of the main challenges of retrofitting an old house for AC installation is the existing electrical infrastructure. Older homes may not have sufficient wiring to accommodate the electrical demand of central air conditioning. Upgrading the electrical system can be costly and time-consuming. In some cases, it may be necessary to replace the entire electrical panel or add additional circuits to the house.

Another challenge of retrofitting an old house for AC installation is the ductwork. In many cases, older homes were designed with inefficient or inadequate ductwork, which can lead to poor airflow and inconsistent cooling. Upgrading the ductwork can be expensive, and it may require significant modifications to the existing structure of the house.

Tip: Before investing in an AC system for an old house, it’s important to have a professional HVAC contractor evaluate the existing infrastructure. This will help determine what types of modifications will be necessary to accommodate the new system.

Other Considerations:

– Insufficient insulation: Older houses may have inadequate insulation in the walls, ceilings, and floors, which can make it difficult to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the house. Upgrading the insulation can help improve energy efficiency and reduce the load on the AC system, which can lower installation costs.
– Structural issues: Retrofitting an old house for AC installation also requires considering structural issues, such as load-bearing walls, existing ductwork, and ventilation systems. It’s important to work with a contractor who has experience retrofitting older homes to ensure that the new AC system is installed safely and effectively.
– Increased complexity: Retrofitting an old house for AC installation is typically more complex than installing a new system in a new construction home. This complexity can lead to higher installation costs and longer installation times.

Upgrading an old house with a central AC system can be a significant investment. However, by working with a qualified HVAC contractor and considering all the necessary modifications, homeowners can ensure they get the best value for their money and enjoy reliable, energy-efficient cooling for years to come.

3. “Determining the Right Size and Type of AC for Your Old House”

When it comes to adding AC to an old house, one of the most critical steps is determining the right size and type of unit to install. Many homeowners make the mistake of choosing a unit that is too small or too large for their home, which can result in inefficient cooling, higher energy bills, and system breakdowns.

To determine the right size and type of AC for your old house, you should start by calculating the cooling load of your home. This involves taking into account factors such as the size of your home, the layout of each room, the number of windows and doors, the insulation, and the local climate. There are many free online calculators that can help you estimate your cooling load, but it’s always best to consult with a professional HVAC contractor to ensure accuracy.

Once you know your cooling load, you can start looking for the right type of AC unit. There are many types of AC units available, including central air conditioning, ductless mini-splits, window units, and portable units. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs and budget. For example, central air conditioning may be more expensive to install, but it offers whole-house cooling and better energy efficiency.

Another factor to consider is the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of the AC unit. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit will be and the lower your energy bills will be. However, higher SEER ratings can also mean higher upfront costs, so it’s important to weigh the long-term savings against the initial investment.

In conclusion, determining the right size and type of AC unit for your old house is crucial for efficient cooling and lower energy bills. Consulting with a professional HVAC contractor and considering factors such as the cooling load, type of unit, and SEER rating can help you make an informed decision about which unit to install.

4. “Expert Tips for Saving Money on AC Installation for Your Old House”

Adding AC to an old house can be costly, but there are ways to save money without sacrificing quality and comfort. In this section, we will share some expert tips that can help you reduce the expenses of your AC installation project.

1. Consider Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency should be a top priority when choosing an AC system for your old house. A high-efficiency AC unit will not only save you money on energy bills but also help reduce your carbon footprint. Look for models with a SEER rating of 14 or higher, which is the minimum efficiency standard set by the US Department of Energy. Also, consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified unit as they guarantee energy savings.

2. Opt for Zone Control

Installing separate thermostats and ducts in different parts of the house can lead to more efficient and cost-effective cooling. This is known as zone control, and it is a smart way to customize temperature control in your old house. This way, you can reduce AC usage in rooms that are not frequently used, saving energy and money.

3. Hire a Professional Installer

Although DIY AC installation might seem like a cost-effective solution, it can end up costing more if something goes wrong. Hiring a professional installer can save you money in the long run as they have the necessary skills, equipment, and experience to get the job done right the first time. Make sure to vet your contractors and choose a licensed and insured company that offers a warranty on their work.

These expert tips can go a long way towards saving you money on AC installation for your old house. By selecting energy-efficient models, opting for zone control and hiring a professional installer, you can rest easy knowing your AC investment is worth it, both in the short and long-term.

5. “DIY vs. Professional: Pros and Cons of Adding AC to Your Old House”


Should you add AC to your old house on your own or hire a professional? DIY might seem like a cost-effective solution, but it’s not always the best option. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each approach to help you make an informed decision.

DIY Pros:

  • Cost savings:If you have some knowledge of electrical systems and HVAC, you can save some money on labor costs and potentially on equipment as well.
  • Flexible timeline:When you’re doing it yourself, you can work at your own pace. If time isn’t a critical factor, it can be beneficial to work on the project when you have free time.

DIY Cons:

  • Safety risks:Working with electricity and refrigerants can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper training and tools. You could risk personal harm or damage to your property.
  • Quality issues:There’s a learning curve when it comes to installing an AC system. If you make mistakes, you might end up spending more in the long run to fix it. Plus, a poorly installed AC system could perform inadequately or even damage your home.

Professional Pros:

  • Expertise and experience:Professional technicians have specialized training and experience in installing AC systems. They’re able to perform the installation quicker and more efficiently and can offer professional recommendations on equipment selection, sizing, and placement.
  • Warranty:Professional installations often come with warranties, so you can be confident that your system is covered in case of defects or issues that arise outside of your control.

Professional Cons:

  • Cost:Professional installation can be expensive, especially if you have additional considerations, like extensive ductwork or electrical work. However, the cost may be offset by the long-term benefits and energy savings that a professional installation provides.
  • Limited timeline:If you have a deadline for the installation, such as a hot summer coming up, you’ll need to work around a professional’s schedule to ensure that the job is done in time.

6. “Permitting and Code Considerations for Adding AC to Your Old House”


If you’re planning to add AC to your old house, you need to be aware of the permitting and code requirements in your area before beginning the installation process. Permitting and code regulations are put in place by local authorities as a safety measure to ensure that all installations are up to standard and won’t pose any risks to homeowners or the community.

Permitting Requirements

Permitting requirements vary depending on your location and the type of AC system you’re planning to install. Typically, you’ll need to obtain a permit from your city or county building department before beginning any work. Some municipalities may also require additional permits for electrical or plumbing work associated with the installation.

When applying for a permit, you’ll need to provide detailed information about the project, including the type of system you plan to install, installation location, and the size of the unit. Your city or county building department will review your application, and if approved, issue a permit for your installation.

Code Considerations

When adding AC to an old house, you must comply with state and local codes. The codes vary depending on location, climate, and type of air conditioning system. It’s vital to work with a licensed professional who is familiar with these codes to ensure that your installation is done correctly and safely.

Codes cover various aspects of the installation process, including sizing, electrical requirements, ductwork, and refrigerant lines. Non-compliance with these codes can lead to severe fines and may even pose safety risks.

It’s essential to keep records of your AC installation process, including the permit and any other inspections required by the city or county. These records are essential for insurance purposes and may also be necessary if you decide to sell your property in the future.

By being aware of the permitting and code requirements before starting your AC installation, you can avoid costly fines and ensure that your installation meets all safety and regulatory standards.

7. “The Long-Term Financial Benefits of Adding AC to Your Old House

If you’re considering adding AC to your old house, it’s important to understand the long-term financial benefits. Here are some key reasons why investing in air conditioning can be a smart financial decision in the long run:

1. Increased Resale Value: Adding AC can increase the resale value of your home. Most buyers these days expect a home to have air conditioning and may be willing to pay more for a home with a modern, efficient system. According to the National Association of Realtors, homes with central air conditioning sell for an average of 7% more than homes without it.

2. Energy Savings: New air conditioning systems are highly energy-efficient, which can help reduce your monthly energy bills. In fact, upgrading to a modern system could cut your cooling costs by up to 50%. While there is an upfront cost to installation, the energy savings can help offset that cost over time and save you money in the long run.

3. Improved Indoor Air Quality: Adding AC can also improve the air quality in your home, which can lead to better health and wellbeing. AC systems can filter out pollutants and allergens, lowering the risk of respiratory problems and other health issues.

In summary, while adding AC to your old house may require an initial investment, the long-term financial benefits can be significant. From increased resale value to energy savings and improved health, AC is a smart investment that can provide a wide range of benefits for homeowners.

People Also Ask:

1. How much does it cost to install central AC in an old house?

The cost of adding an air conditioning system to an old house varies between $3,000 to $7,000 depending on the difficulty of the installation and the size of the system required.

2. Can you add central air to an existing furnace?

Yes, you can add central air to an existing furnace. The cost of this installation will depend on the size of the system required and additional ductwork needed.

3. How much does it cost to install ductwork for AC?

The cost of ductwork installation for air conditioning can range between $2,000 to $4,000 depending on the size of the system and the complexity of the installation.

4. Is it worth putting central air in an old house?

Yes, it is worth installing central air in an old house. It will make the house more comfortable and can increase the value of the property.

5. What are some alternative cooling options for an old house?

Alternative cooling options for an old house could include ductless AC systems, window units, or evaporative coolers. These options vary in cost and effectiveness.


The cost to add AC to an old house can vary significantly depending on several factors such as size of the system, installation complexity, and additional ductwork needed. However, it is certainly a worthwhile investment that will provide comfort and potentially increase the property value. There are also alternative cooling options available for those who may not want to invest in a central AC system.