A faulty furnace is bad news, especially in winter. Replacing a furnace with a new one is expensive—somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000. It’s a good idea to speak with at least one HVAC professional before making a decision about whether to repair or replace a furnace. The average lifespan of a furnace is 15 to 20 years, so it may be a good idea to be proactive about getting a new one if a furnace is in that age range rather than wait for it to completely stop working. Numerous factors affect the cost of replacing a furnace.
Depending on the construction of the house, a top-of-the-line furnace or the most powerful one may not be necessary. The age of the house, the size of the house and the architecture all help determine what type of furnace is best. Reputable HVAC installers can assess the property and make recommendations on the most appropriate options.
Most furnaces make use of one of three energy types: gas, oil or electric. Gas is the most common energy type for furnaces, but these furnaces are more expensive than electric ones, which are typically found in warmer climates. However, it costs more to operate an electric furnace. The most expensive type of furnace and one that’s seen much less in more modern homes is the oil furnace. Less common furnace options include solar and geothermal, although these are by far the most expensive in terms of the initial cost.
There are numerous furnace brands available in the marketplace. Some are more expensive to purchase and install than others. A higher price does not always mean higher quality. It’s a good idea to do plenty of research and ask questions of several installers before making a decision.
Different furnaces have different levels of energy efficiency. The U.S. government’s Energy Star label indicates the most efficient models. It’s best to weigh the cost of the furnace and installation with the cost of energy used by the furnace over a period of about 10 years. This calculation can help determine which furnace is most cost-effective. Note that energy prices cannot be guaranteed to stay at the same rates over time.
Installation of the furnace usually makes up most of the overall cost. In most cases, installation costs two to four times the cost of the furnace itself. Many installers charge by the hour for labor, but some charge a set fee based on the type of furnace and other factors.
Sometimes contractors will need to adjust or replace duct work, filters and vents to accommodate a new furnace. Professional installers should be able to determine upfront whether this work is necessary and let you know whether they will charge extra for it.
Some furnace installation jobs require a permit from the local municipality. HVAC professionals will know the regional requirements and may roll this cost into the overall cost.
Stick with the type of energy your current furnace uses—gas, oil or electric—to avoid the retrofitting costs of switching energy sources. Inquire about any government rebates or tax incentives, as well as any rebates from the furnace manufacturer or your energy company.
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