What Determines the Cost of a Furnace?

Choosing a new furnace for your home is a big investment. When treated properly, a furnace can last up to 15 years. While it’s not something you want to skimp on, furnace costs can come as a surprise to most homeowners. Though the ticket tag may be high, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of a furnace.

1. Fuel Source

The biggest impact to furnace cost is the fuel source of the furnace. Electricity is cheaper upfront than oil or gas, but more expensive monthly. Gas furnaces are the second most affordable upfront and cheapest monthly. Oil tends to be cheaper than electric monthly but more expensive than gas.
Keep in mind, while electric furnaces are the most expensive monthly, that cost can be offset by installing things like solar panels to help lower the overall electric bill.

2. Furnace Size

How do you know what size furnace works for your home? As part of the process, an HVAC technician will determine the size of your home and how large your furnace should be. A furnace that’s too big will never be efficient and cost you extra in monthly bills. A furnace that’s too small will leave you out in the cold during the winter months.
While evaluating your home, an HVAC tech will calculate the number of British Thermal Units, or BTUs, your new furnace will need. BTUs calculate how much power is necessary to heat your home. To do this they take the square footage of your home (or the space you’re looking to heat) and multiply it by 40.
Another concern with a furnace that’s too small or large is the increased maintenance costs. Those that are too small will struggle heating a home while those that are too large will short cycle. This will force the furnace to work harder than it needs to, resulting in premature repairs and an inefficient unit.

3. Energy Efficiency

All modern furnaces are efficient, but just how efficient of a furnace should you get? Should you get a more efficient one — think 95 – 98% efficiency — even if the upfront costs are significantly higher? Usually, the answer depends on your situation.
While it might be cost effective in the short term to purchase a furnace that’s not as energy-efficient, you will be paying more in energy bills over time. Energy-efficient furnaces are more expensive out the gate, but they mean lower energy bills and a reduction in your carbon footprint.

4. Installation Cost

Oftentimes, homeowners underestimate the cost of furnace installation. Installation costs depend on what type of furnace you’re getting, where it’s going, and any other extras you may need. Extras can include ducting and duct work, any upgrades to keep everything within code, and other surprising factors.
For example, if you are switching fuel types, the installation cost is often much greater. This is due to increased labor costs and covers the cost of new ductwork, major electrical and gas work, and rewiring. Though it is expensive, the alternative — installing the furnace yourself— is much more dangerous and could cost a lot more in the long run. Any HVAC work must be inspected and up to code. Additionally, improperly installed furnaces have a high chance of causing fires or gas leaks.

5. Other Factors to Consider:

a. Warranty

Before you buy your furnace replacement, make sure to check if your furnace is still under warranty. Most furnace warranties last for around ten years, so if you’ve had yours for less than that, it’s always good to check. Keep in mind, warranties must be in writing in order to be valid.
But always make sure that you keep up with routine maintenance. Most warranties are only good if the furnace was kept in good working condition.

b. Maintenance

Speaking of maintenance, furnaces are like anything else in that they need to be maintained to stay functional. Small problems can easily spiral into larger ones if they’re not addressed.

c. Tax Credits

If you buy a furnace that’s especially efficient (95% efficiency and above), you might qualify for a $150 tax break. An extra bit of cash never hurts anyone.

d. Insulation

The insulation of your home is especially important if you live in a colder climate. Poor insulation means your home doesn’t hold in warmth as much as it should. This means your furnace has to work extra hard in order to keep your home comfortable in the winter.
Check for places along the walls or windows that feel cold to the touch. Those are signs that your insulation needs to be updated. Work with one of our HVAC specialists to find the best furnace for your needs.