Quick, how much does a new furnace cost? $1,000? $10,000? Somewhere in between?
Don’t worry, the test isn’t for a grade. But if you weren’t sure of the correct answer, you’re not alone. Some people haven’t purchased a new furnace in 20 or more years! For others, the next time they purchase a new furnace will be their first time.
There’s a lot that goes into pricing, but many people only see the end result of heating their home, and have no idea what affects cost, and why.
We’re here to change that. Not only will we give you ranges of pricing to help set your budget, but we’re going to explain why those ranges exist, and what each means for your overall comfort.
The other nice thing? We’re going to give you the full cost of equipment and installation. Ranges provided will also include items like the cost of pulling inspection permits, which are often included as “hidden” fees. See, some pricing guides will include equipment only, and some in-home estimates will omit certain fees in order to get a signature on the dotted line. This is misleading.
While it’s true that some modifications and additions can change costs even beyond the ranges we’ll provide, our pricing will be true for most homeowners, and we’ll also walk through some of the reasons you might incur those additional costs. By the end, you’ll be able to have confidence in setting a budget for your new furnace system.
Some items we’ll cover that affect the cost of any new furnace installation:
- Capacity (size) of the furnace
- The efficiency of your new furnace, and how it relates to your whole HVAC system
- Speed options related to the blower motor, which can increase cost but also increase your options and comfort
- Matching equipment so that the technology is compatible
Possible additional costs that we’ll cover include the following:
- Ductwork and ventilation modifications
- Installation of a gas line if you’re converting to a natural gas furnace
- Indoor air quality products like better media filters and humidity controlling products that will increase your initial cost but can potentially save you money long-term
Capacity of Your Residential Furnace
When a sales professional visits your home, they should perform a Manual J Load Calculation to determine the capacity needed in an HVAC system to properly heat and cool your home. The industry standards for these calculations are set by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). At Fire & Ice Heating and Air Conditioning, we always perform an ACCA-approved load calculation to ensure accurate sizing of your system.
This informs a homeowner of the capacity needed to properly service the home. The size of your house matters, but also things like the number and direction of the windows on the home, as well as dozens of other factors.
Naturally, larger systems tend to cost more. It’s important to get the correct capacity for your home, though, because you’ll be losing massive amounts of efficiency if the furnace capacity is too little or too much.
For air conditioners, the common metric for measuring efficiency is SEER Rating, which, in brief, is a calculation that compares energy usage to cooling.
For furnaces, the metric is Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This is measured on a scale of 1-100%. An AFUE of 80%, for example, means that 80% of the fuel in the system is being turned into usable heating energy for your home. The remainder would be vented through the system’s exhaust.
While efficiency averages range a bit depending on fuel type, the current minimum AFUE for new furnaces is 78%. The highest-efficiency units on the market today generally run between 90-97%. Any modern system will likely be more efficient than an older system.
While efficiency rating isn’t the only aspect of a system’s total efficiency (which includes things like quality of installation and filtration), in general, higher efficiency means two things:
- Higher Initial Cost
- Lower Long-term Costs
Where you fall on that budgetary scale will be a personal decision that a trusted HVAC partner can discuss with you.
Furnace Speed Options
You may have heard the term “variable-speed” in reference to HVAC equipment. Sometimes this is regarding the air conditioner, but even when it is, it also concerns your furnace. More specifically, it concerns the blower motor in the furnace, which is what moves air throughout your system.
Basic furnaces have a single-stage blower. Meaning, it’s either “on” or “off.” There aren’t degrees of control between those two. Two-stage motors will usually have a 100% setting, then another that’s lower (~70% power). This provides additional control and comfort.
Variable-speed units can have hundreds of individual speed settings! This offers a very granular level of control over your heating and cooling.
It also, unsurprisingly, is going to cost more initially. Like many other items in this article, the tradeoff in initial price is tied to comfort and levels of control, as well as long-term energy costs. A variable-speed system will use less energy over time, which makes it more of a long-term investment.
It’s also important that the blower motor in the furnace is compatible with your air conditioner. Which leads us to equipment matching.
HVAC Equipment Matching
All technology is moving toward being “smart.” Meaning, it communicates between systems dynamically. HVAC equipment is no different, even if there are varying levels of communication depending on your system.
Single-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed equipment has to match, as mentioned above, because elements of the furnace are providing airflow for the air conditioning unit. Similarly, things like the sizing and fuel source of the equipment can make it more or less efficient when paired with different equipment.
What this boils down to is that you need to understand your options, and how that relates to price. If you have a variable-speed air conditioner and aren’t prepared to replace it as well, you’ll need a compatible furnace, which both limits your options and puts you squarely in a higher (initial) price category. Conversely, if you’re looking to upgrade to variable-speed, but your full system only supports single-stage, you’re either sacrificing efficiency or won’t be able to upgrade to the variable-speed unless you replace the entire system.
This can all be discussed with an HVAC professional. You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself, but it’s good to know what your restrictions may be.
Gas vs. Electric Furnaces
Another germane consideration is the fuel source. This affects both equipment matching and the overall efficiency of your equipment.
Electric Furnaces are generally paired with heat pumps, which pair with electric technology more efficiently. While an electric furnace can be paired with an air conditioner, you’re sacrificing a lot of efficiency to do so.
Gas Furnaces are traditionally paired with standard air conditioners. Here in Columbus, OH, gas furnace + air conditioner is the most common setup, and will be the best solution for many. However, if you don’t have access to a natural gas line, or have an existing heat pump for cooling, an electric furnace may make more sense.
Alternatively, many see the long-term benefit of a natural gas furnace and opt to have a gas line installed. This involves contacting your energy company, since an HVAC contractor can only run the line from your meter to the HVAC equipment. They can’t install a new gas line where none currently exists.
Electric furnaces will generally cost less initially. However, given the costs of natural gas, gas furnaces tend to be more cost-effective in areas of the country with severe winters. Heat pump electric systems tend to be more popular in more moderate climates.
Cost of a Furnace Replacement
Now you know what goes into pricing, and why each area affects the final price. So what are the actual price ranges?
Mid-Efficiency Furnace (~80%)
- Single-stage: $3,000 - $4,100
- Two-stage: $3,750 - $5,300
- Modulating (variable-speed): $4,300 - $5,400
High-efficiency Furnace (90%+)
- Single-stage: $3,400 - $4,950
- Two-stage: $4,300 - $6,550
- Modulating (variable-speed): $6,250 - $7,600
This includes installation and related fees. It does not include ductwork or ventilation modification or indoor air quality add-ons, which won’t be a part of every installation.
It also doesn’t include rebates, tax credits, and other incentives that are often offered by utility companies or manufacturers, which we’ll discuss briefly below. These can often reduce the total cost of your equipment significantly.
We’d encourage you to compare quotes when you start inviting HVAC contractors to your home, but it’s important to compare apples to apples. This means not only comparing equipment, but also installation costs and installation procedures, which can ensure (or ruin) the efficiency of your system.
Full System vs. Half System Installation
While it’s often the right choice to only replace your furnace, you can often save money by pairing a furnace installation with an air conditioner installation.
Installing both at once generally reduces labor costs significantly compared to installing each separately. This savings can be thousands of dollars depending on the system being installed.
This also ensures that your equipment matches well, and synchronizes things like warranties and maintenance scheduling.
If you’re close to replacement age for both air conditioner/heat pump and furnace, this is probably your best bet. However, if only one requires replacing, half installations (furnace or A/C only) are also very common.
Ductwork and Ventilation Modifications
If a full-system installation can save you money, needing modifications to your ductwork and ventilation can increase costs. Many older homes have inadequate ductwork to manage the airflow from modern systems. If left alone, this reduces efficiency and can affect the health of the system by not providing it with enough breathing room, so to speak.
Similarly, your chimney flue may need a liner if the materials in it are not able to handle the heat or pressure from the new system. This ensures optimal performance and safety of the new system.
While both of these are more common in older homes, it’s always best to inquire about them to know if any adjustments are necessary as part of your installation.
Indoor Air Quality Products
While not directly tied to the cost of a furnace, the size and quality of your air filter can affect pricing one way or another.
Similarly, products like dehumidifiers, humidifiers, and air purification products can increase the comfort of your home and the health of you and your family. They can also help your equipment run more efficiently, or reduce the need to run the system as often.
Again, they represent an initial investment, but if you suffer from allergies, odors, mold, respiratory issues, or other ailments, they may make long-term sense, and can save on energy costs long-term.
Rebates, Tax Credits & Incentives
Offers will vary significantly based on time of year, area of the country, and equipment that you purchase, but for many HVAC investments, incentives are available that will reduce the cost.
These can include the following:
- Tax Credits: usually made available for high-efficiency equipment. The federal government has had tax credit programs on and off for years. While there’s no guarantee they’ll be available when you purchase, it’s always worth checking.
- Rebates: utility companies and manufacturers will often offer incentives to purchase their equipment, in the form of rebates. If your HVAC contractor is especially helpful, they’ll offer to process these for you and will simply reduce the amount of your bill by the same amount so that you don’t have to worry about processing the rebate yourself.
- Local Incentives: sometimes companies will run individual deals or offer discounts for things like being an armed forces veteran. These will be the most variable, but are again worth looking into.
Make Your Ideal HVAC Investment
The exact price of your new furnace system is only something you’ll be able to get with an in-home estimate with one or more HVAC contractors. But we hope this has given you a sense of what to expect in terms of cost, so that you can set your budget accordingly.
If you’re ready to start researching financing options, or to have your in-home estimate, check below to see if you’re in our service area. If you’re in Columbus, Ohio or the surrounding areas, we’d love to have a Fire & Ice sales professional walk you through your options and help you choose the best furnace for you, one that will last the next 15-20 years or more!