A room air conditioner is designed to cool just one room, and its price depends on the brand, features and cooling capacity, which is defined in BTUs per hour. A small unit designed for 5,200 BTUs per hour can cool one bedroom. At the time of publication, it costs about $160, according to Consumer Reports. A larger model that handles 13,000 BTUs per hour can cool large, sunny rooms or two-interconnected rooms, and runs about $600. The most powerful room air conditioners can handle up to 36,000 BTUs per hour and can cost about $1,800.
You can install small air-conditioners yourself. If you’d rather have a professional install the unit temporarily, either because its too heavy for you to handle or you want to add several to your home, installation can run about $30 to $50 per unit, depending on your geographical location. Replacing the adjustable skirt around the unit with plexiglass or lexan to allow for a better seal costs about $200 to $350 with installation per unit. Permanent installations are similar to temporary ones, except for the use of silicone to seal the unit from air leaks. This type of installation costs about $250 to $400 per unit.
Central air conditioners cool an entire house or structure by forcing air through a duct system. Its installation requires professional installation. A unit that uses a structure’s existing ductwork runs about $3,500 to $5,500 installed. Installing ductwork is a complex processes and bumps the total cost to between $10,000 and $12,000. Other factors affecting the price include the age of the home, with older homes costing more, and local climate. Government tax rebates can reduce the price of these installations by up to $1,500.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics show how the wages of air conditioning installers differ across the country, which affects the total price of adding air conditioning to a house. Information is accurate as of May 2010. Mean wages across the country were $21.57 per hour. For states, the highest wages were in Alaska at a mean $27.87 per hour, followed by the District of Columbia at a mean $27.75 per hour. For cities, the highest rates were in Champaign, Illinois, at a mean $36.15 per hour and Napa, California, at a mean $33.40 per hour.