However much you decide to spend on an air conditioner depends on how much cooling you want and need and the physical circumstances of the house. Typically, in Canada, $7,000 – $17,000 is the average cost for a central air conditioner or a more complex HVAC system. Heat pumps are energy-efficient at heating and cooling, costing $6,000 – $15,000. Current green energy rebate offers make heat pumps popular for Canadians. A single window or portable air conditioner for a one-room or small apartment can be purchased for $500 – $1,200. 

The installation labour cost, new ducting, repairs, new thermostat, and possibly a more significant electrical panel for these systems may increase the price. 

Ultimately, a professional will calculate the size of the house and provide recommendations. 

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How much to spend on an air conditioner depends on the product type.

Central Air Conditioner:
This system is best for cooling and humidifying whole houses or buildings. 

  • An outdoor compressor unit sends cooled air through the ductwork. 
  • Typically, this system costs from $5,000 – $7,500.


Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) System:
Using your existing furnace ductwork, an HVAC system’s heating and cooling share the ducting system.

  • The exterior component is the air conditioner.
  • The interior part is the furnace, air handler, ductwork, and thermostat.
  • Depending on the size and capacity of the heating and cooling units, the cost of these double-duty systems is, therefore, wide-ranging, between $7,000 – $15,000.


Heat Pump System:
Heat pumps are a relatively new, high-energy efficient system that heats and cools a house. 

  • Mini or multi-split and central ducted systems are available. 
  • Being a high-efficiency choice, reduced-cost incentives make heat pumps very popular. 
  • Expect to pay around $7,000 – $10,000 for this system.


Ductless Mini Split System:
These consist of an exterior condenser, a hose system, and air handlers installed through the exterior and mounted in different rooms on the walls.

  • Ductwork is not required, making it ideal for houses or buildings that do not have existing ducts. 
  • The price ranges from $3,000 – $15,000, depending on the number of air handlers.


Portable Air Conditioners:
Portable air conditioners are well-known in the apartment rental market or houses without ducting (for example, homes with radiators). 

  • They use a window insert kit with accordion-style tubing that expels the unit’s hot air outside. 
  • The condensed water must be removed from the unit via a tube at the bottom of the unit. 
  • The higher the number of square feet you need to cool, the higher the price, $500 – $1,200 is usual.


Window-Mounted Air Conditioners:
You need a double or single-hung window to be able to install a window air conditioner. 

  • It was manufactured as the first air conditioner in 1931. 
  • This efficient single-unit system sits on a window ledge and is the least expensive kind of air conditioner, costing $300 – $500.


The size of the area to be cooled will dictate how much to spend on an air conditioner.

You should consult each company you consider using for a new air conditioner. Compare their opinions on the product they feel you should install, and remember to check that a mistake hasn’t been made at the time of installation. The BTUs of the purchased system must match the product 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


How much to spend on an air conditioner also depends on other costs.

  • Although not extremely costly, to dispose of an older air conditioner / AC that uses environmentally damaging refrigerants, you will be required to pay a small fee so that it is done away with to proper standards in the least ecologically harmful way.
  • Updated or new plumbing or electrical work may be required. You may need an upgraded electrical panel if you have an older home when a new HVAC or central air conditioner is installed.
  • More extensive ductwork may be needed. Existing ductwork may be damaged, or the seams split.

Fortunately, all new air conditioners are much better for the environment than they once were. So you can feel good about spending money to keep cool. 


A Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of 14 now must be achievable for all new air conditioners, ensuring maximum efficiency at the end of the day and saving you money. Although a higher SEER rating number means a high initial cost, it supports a healthy planet for all of us. What is SEER?

This post was written by John Finan

July 24, 2023