Cost of A New Furnace
Ask twenty professional HVAC contractors the question, “What is the cost of a new furnace” and you’ll probably get the same answer... “It depends.” Today’s furnaces are available with a wide variety of comfort-enhancing technologies, and can be much more sophisticated than older continuous pilot light/natural draft models.
For example, Carrier offers a comprehensive line of furnaces to fit nearly any need and budget. And with models ranging from the very basic minimum-efficiency models to deluxe ENERGY STAR® units with up to 98.5% efficiency and all the bells and whistles, furnace prices can vary quite a bit.
And don’t forget installation. Is it a first-time installation, or are you replacing a furnace system that already exists? Does the ductwork need work? Is there a disposal fee for the old furnace? What about money back through government or utility-issued rebates? With all of the variables involved, the most accurate answer to the question “how much is a new furnace?” will come from an experienced HVAC pro after an assessment of your home, comfort needs, and budget.
Factors That Impact New Furnace Cost
Let’s start by taking a look at the cost of the furnace itself. Factors that can affect new furnace prices will vary, starting with the manufacturer. For example, are you looking at a furnace from one of the top-tier brands, or are you looking at a lesser-known or budget brand? The top brands like Carrier and its competitors will likely command a slightly higher price point. This is due to factors like using better quality materials, investing more resources in product reliability testing, multiple manufacturing quality checkpoints and more.
Pricing can vary from dealer to dealer as well. Some HVAC dealers might offer discounted equipment pricing as part of an annual service agreement. Last year’s models or dealer overstock units might be available with discounted pricing as well. Ultimately, assuming you are analyzing the major brand names and current models, factors that influence the new furnace cost include energy efficiency, installation costs and size to name a few.
Furnace Efficiency Can Affect the Cost of a Furnace
The cost of a furnace is driven, at least in part, by its energy efficiency rating – the higher the efficiency, the greater the average cost. However, a higher efficiency unit that costs more today may save money down the road on your utility bills and may continue to do so over the life of the furnace.
Learning the efficiency of a new furnace is fairly easy. Every furnace sold in the United States is required to display its energy efficiency rating, or furnace AFUE. AFUE is an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which represents how effective a furnace is at converting the heating fuel it uses into heat for your home. Each model’s efficiency rating is displayed on the Department of Energy’s required yellow Energy Guide label. Efficiency ratings for new furnaces are also typically listed and readily available on manufacturers’ web sites. And, of course, you can always ask your local Carrier dealer for efficiency ratings for the models they might be recommending for your home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, high-efficiency furnaces are those that achieve between 90 to 99% AFUE ratings. These furnaces can reduce your energy bills over time compared to lower efficiency models, but also tend to be higher priced. The higher prices reflect the components needed to deliver those higher efficiencies. For example, most furnaces that achieve 90% AFUE or higher are condensing-type furnaces. These furnaces include two heat exchangers instead of the one that is typically found in mid or low efficiency models.
In a condensing furnace, the primary heat exchanger extracts roughly 80% of the energy from your heating fuel and converts it into heat for your home. The secondary heat exchanger draws additional heat energy from combustion to raise the efficiency to 90% or higher. These models are so efficient at converting fuel to heat that the resulting combustion gases are vented outside using standard PVC piping.
High efficiency furnaces may also include variable speed motors (which add cost compared to single-speed motors), as well as two-stage gas valves, higher capability electronic controls, added cabinet insulation, and more. Each of these can add cost compared to a typical, mid-efficiency or budget-priced furnace.
Mid-efficiency furnaces fall into the range of 80% to 83% AFUE. The Department of Energy has established 80% AFUE as the minimum requirement for a new furnace in the United States. However, these models are considered to be mid-efficiency units compared with existing furnaces that may only be 56 – 70% efficient. The cost of a furnace in the mid-efficiency category is typically less than a high-efficiency model due in part to a lower material cost – one heat exchanger instead of two. These models can also have less sophisticated electronic controls, and in some cases, single-speed blower fans and single-stage gas valves.
Furnace Size Can Affect New Furnace Costs
When we talk about furnace size, we are referring to its heating capacity as measured in BTU/h (British thermal units per hour). Often, a new furnace with higher heating capacity will also have a slightly bigger cabinet size as well. This allows room for the additional heat exchanger cells, larger blower fans and other components necessary to achieve the higher heating capacity. As a result, the cost of a new furnace with larger heating capacity is often higher than one with smaller capacity. At the very high end of the furnace spectrum you might also find some variable-capacity furnaces that modulate capacity up and down as needed to more precisely match conditions and meet the heating needs of the home. These tend to be some of the higher priced models available.
Calculating furnace size (and therefore, how much you might spend on a new furnace) is best done by a professional HVAC dealer. Some of the factors involved include the size of your home, the condition of your ductwork, number of windows, quality of insulation, “open” floor plan vs. “closed” floor plan, and more. And, because pricing may differ between HVAC contractors, it is always a good idea to get more than one estimate from a qualified dealer to find the best-priced, and properly sized furnace for your home.
Installation Costs for New Furnaces vs. DIY
When buying a furnace, the cost of the furnace itself is just one part of the equation. Installation costs and labor costs can significantly add to the overall cost to replace a furnace. For example, when replacing your older furnace, the new model is probably not going to be precisely the same physical size as the old one. That means there may need to be some modification of the ductwork to make the connection. The ducts may need to be cleaned and sealed as well.
It is also common that when installing a furnace, the new furnace also may not perfectly align with the existing gas line, electrical hookup, and exhaust venting. If you are upgrading from a low or mid-efficiency furnace to a 90%+ AFUE model, your contractor may need to install intake and exhaust PVC piping. When installing the wall control, some controls require 4-wire installation. If only two exist at the thermostat location, the technician may need to install additional wiring.
To be sure you that the job is done right, it is recommended that this work be performed by a licensed and trained technician and instead of trying to tackle it yourself. So be sure to use a reputable HVAC contractor and contact a Carrier dealer today!
Types of New Furnaces
To figure out the entire cost of a new furnace system, you’ll need to decide what type of furnace you need. Carrier offers a complete line of natural gas furnaces and oil furnaces, with several models available in each category designed to fit a variety of needs and budgets. Here are some considerations that affect overall furnace replacement costs:
Gas furnaces tend to cost a little less than oil furnaces, before installation costs. Once your new heating system is installed, natural gas, on average, is currently less expensive than heating oil. This is an ongoing cost for the life of the furnace. Natural gas furnaces have higher available AFUE efficiency than oil furnaces and tend to require less routine maintenance as well. And, with the higher volume in sales of gas furnaces, there are many more models to choose from with a number of comfort-enhancing features not readily available on oil furnaces. Higher-end, higher-efficiency gas furnaces might include multi-stage heating, communicating electronic controls and modulating operation for more precise control of heating capacity. Several ENERGY STAR® certified models are available with efficiency peaking at 98.5% AFUE.
Pricing for oil furnaces tends to be a little higher than natural gas models. Installation costs will vary depending on a number of factors. Currently, ongoing costs for oil furnaces will include heating oil, which, on average, is currently more expensive than natural gas (however that could always change).
You will also need an oil storage tank and to have the oil delivered. Oil furnaces tend to require a little more routine maintenance than gas or electric furnaces as well.
Performance-wise, oil furnaces are available with variable-speed operation for smooth, quiet comfort cycles and the ability to work with the cooling system to control summertime humidity. While ENERGY STAR® certified versions are available, the highest efficiencies for these models are 87.5% AFUE.
Contact a Professional for an Accurate Furnace Price
Getting back to our original question, “how much is a new furnace?”, the best answer is to contact a local Carrier dealer. Your local Carrier dealer will have the tools and training to analyze the physical features of your home, then properly size your new furnace to match.
Your local dealer will also have access to the latest pricing details including any potential rebates and product availability. And, your local Carrier expert should be able to provide an accurate total cost estimate for the entire project, project ongoing costs for operation, and provide maintenance and furnace service to help ensure efficient performance over the life of your new system.
Contact a Carrier dealer today to get an estimate for your home.