Furnace Cost

by Jan 22, 2021Furnace

So, WINTER IS COMING, you want to make your home extra toasty, and you’re ready to install a new furnace (or replace your existing one.) How much is it going to cost?

a typical inside furnace with ductwork attached
A typical furnace

Initial Furnace Cost

If you’re looking to install a new furnace in your home, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost. That’s not a simple answer: the size of the furnace, what kind of fuel it uses, how big your house is, all these variables and more factor into the installation price.

House Size and Conditions

Generally, the bigger the home and more stories, the bigger and pricier your system. Furnaces work by heating and circulating the air in your home. Home square footage, ceiling height, stories – these are a few of the things that affect what type of unit you need. Casey Services uses Manual J to calculate the right amount of heat needed to keep a house warm for those inside.

Climate/Environment

Daytime view of a home with snow on the ground outside
There’s snow on the ground, but this home is nice and cozy warm!

The weather where you live will dictate what kind of unit you need to heat your home. Unless you live in/near the mountains, NC weather rarely gets below 10° F. That means a smaller heating bill than, say, our Canadian neighbors.

Different types of roofs, tree cover, windows, siding, and colors affect just how fast and how much the sun heats up your home. More sunlight hitting your home = less heat you need from your furnace, which can make a big difference in your monthly energy bill!

Occupancy

As we learned in The Matrix, human beings generate heat. Depending on how many people are in a home, how long they spend inside, and how often they cook and shower, all of that affects how hot your home gets. This determines if you need a bigger and pricier system that has to run longer, increasing your energy bill.

Other Appliances

Larger appliances such as washer/dryers, ovens, TV’s, and computers all generate heat. And they all generate heat in different zones of your house, meaning you’ll need different amounts of heating or cooling in each zone. Where and how much these appliances are used will affect system size, location, and design.

Insulation

Like a thermos keeping coffee hot for hours, good insulation can keep your home warm in the winter even when the furnace isn’t running. But poor quality insulation can allow heat to escape, meaning you need a bigger and pricier system that needs to run longer, greatly increasing your energy bill.

Ductwork/Ventilation

Ductwork is a system of tubes in the floors, walls, and ceilings; the tubes carry air from your furnace and AC to each room. If your ducts weren’t installed properly, or have a leak, it can waste air and add hundreds of dollars to your energy bill every year. Leaky ductwork will require a larger, pricier unit to compensate for loss of airflow.

Brand

closeup - two hvac technicians employed by Casey Services working on an American Standard brand AC unit outside
Casey Services Service Manager George Hopkins and his assistant work on an American Standard AC unit

While there are many brands and manufacturers of furnaces on the market, at Casey Services we recommend American Standard for a number of reasons:

  • Fewer repairs – On average, American Standard has fewer repairs than other brands.
  • Lower monthly costs – American Standard offers high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and ENERGY STAR rated systems. This means a more energy efficient system that will cost less to run each month. The two stage and modulating speed furnaces allow the unit to work at different speeds. So instead of going from working at 100% then to 0% it can change to a lower heat output. This saves money as the unit is running more efficiently, i.e. not jumping up to 100% just to heat the home 1 degree.
  • Longevity – Having the modulating speed furnaces also prolongs the life of the system by reducing wear and tear.
  • Variety of options – There are many American Standard furnace options, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. They also have a wide variety of HVAC products that work together, delivering you maximum efficiency. These include top-of-the-line products for humidity control, indoor air quality, thermostats, and numerous other quality products to make your house the most comfortable home in the neighborhood!
  • Excellent warrantyAmerican Standard’s warranty policy is superior to other leading brands. This includes a lifetime limited warranty for heat exchangers, one of the most expensive pieces on a furnace.

We understand that American Standard might not be the best fit for you. Whichever brand you choose, the factors listed above are good to keep in mind. Below are some of the other brands we work with.

HVAC Equipment Brands
HVAC Equipment Brands

Fuel Efficiency

HVAC systems like American Standard that are more energy-efficient are usually more expensive at first than less efficient brands. But higher upfront costs can mean lower energy bills, greater comfort, fewer repairs, and a longer lifespan, which is cheaper in the long run. You get what you pay for!

Furnace System Type by Fuel

Different furnaces use different types of energy to run, and of course the price of each type of furnace varies.

  • The most common type is a natural gas furnace, which is usually the most efficient. Gas furnace units themselves average around $2,250 at the national level. In central North Carolina they can range from $450-$1800, according to the good folks at Johnstone Supply. Gas furnaces can be converted to propane for $200-$500.
  • Propane furnaces average around $2,000
  • Oil furnaces are mostly used in the northeast US, where it usually gets much colder than in NC. Oil furnaces cost anywhere from $500-$2500.
  • The cost for a wood stove or furnace can range from as little as $325-$4000 or more, but you still need a professional to install it.
  • If your house doesn’t have a natural gas line, an electric furnace might suit your needs better. While the units typically cost less, on average around $835, as the name suggests they use more electricity, which can cost more in the long run (see Ongoing Furnace Costs)

Historic Fuel Costs

Over the past 10-15 years, the costs of natural gas, propane, and oil have been trending downward: from $19.43 down to $2.36 for natural gas; $1.98 down to $0.55 for propane; and $4.63 down to $1.32 for heating oil. Meanwhile, the average cost of electricity has been more stable, but the prices have been trending UP. Something to keep in mind when calculating costs and planning for the future.

Furnace Installation Cost

After you’ve decided what kind of furnace you’re going to have installed, then comes the next question: how much will it cost to install? This, too, is determined by several variables that must be taken into account.
Number one, legal compliance. North Carolina has multiple rules for installing heating systems. A licensed technician is required to adhere to a Standard of Competence.
Another factor is the size of your home: square footage, how many rooms have to be heated, how many floors you have. Of course, the bigger the house, the more it costs to install a furnace.
And finally, the type of unit you get also affects the installation price.

  • To install a wood stove costs about $2,300 on average.
  • An electric furnace costs around $2,500
  • Gas averages about $3,850
  • Oil furnaces are usually the most expensive to install, $7,200 on average. (All figures are the total cost, including installation and the furnace itself.)

All of these prices are typically for smaller homes. Larger homes in NC range from $3,800-$10,000+.

Does Replacing a Furnace Increase Home Value?

Getting a new high efficiency furnace installed in your home has additional perks besides comfort and lower monthly bills. It’s a major step to getting your home certified energy efficient, and in North Carolina that means it’s more likely to sell, and at a higher value per square foot, than a less energy efficient home.

Depending on the state, county, and even local utility company, you may even qualify for tax credits.

 

DIY Furnace Install

gif of Brendan Fraser in a trailer park saying

You may be thinking to yourself, “These installation prices are pretty steep! I can save money by installing a furnace on my own.” Or, “My father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate is good with his hands, I bet I could get him to install this furnace for a case of beer.”

We STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST THIS! Installing a furnace requires extensive knowledge of sheet metal work, electrical work, and plumbing. Plus if the furnace uses oil, liquid propane, or natural gas, it’s extremely dangerous if you don’t know EXACTLY what you’re doing. Explosions are cool on TV, but they’re not so fun in real life.

gif of a house exploding and a couple people diving to the ground

If you’re switching from electric to gas, or vice versa, the process is even more complicated. Starting up or shutting down a fuel line takes more than hard work and grit. It requires a level of expertise you just can’t get by watching a YouTube tutorial.

For all of these reasons and more, in the state of North Carolina you are LEGALLY REQUIRED to obtain a permit to install a heating equipment system (ref [page 5, § 153A-357. Permits, section (a), subsection (3)]

In order to install or replace a furnace, you need to adjust the electricity or gas line. Even if you think you can do this safely, your gas/heating company can see that you’re tampering with the equipment and/or the meters. Their usual response to such unauthorized activity is to shut down your power completely. A professional needs to turn the gas line back on, per safety protocols. They know that if a non-professional is tampering with the power, there could be damage. You could cause a gas leak, which could set fire to your house or even a neighbor’s.

If you talk to your homeowners insurance agent, they’ll tell you that it’s common practice for policies to require licensed contractors to install heating systems. If you or a friend DIY a heating installation, you’re probably violating the terms of your policy, which puts you at risk of voiding the contract. Insurance agents don’t want to be liable for a bad installation that causes property damage or possible harm or death. You especially don’t want to risk losing your insurance if you have a mortgage. Mortgage companies usually require insurance to insure the home from being destroyed, as a way to protect their investment. If you lose your homeowners insurance, you could get kicked out of your home.

So installing a furnace yourself, or getting a friend to do it, could end up costing you WAY more than having a professional do the job in the first place. The smart thing to do is get a licensed HVAC contractor like Casey Services.

 

Ongoing Furnace Costs

When making a purchasing decision for a furnace, it’s important to take into account not just the initial cost, but also the ongoing costs of running and maintaining your unit from month to month, year after year.

Fuel Costs

It’s typically cheaper to run a gas furnace than an electric one. On average electric costs around $2600/year, while gas costs $1800/year.

Regular Furnace Maintenance

If you get a gas furnace, it’s recommended that you have regular maintenance on it, getting it serviced and cleaned a minimum of once every year. In fact it’s often REQUIRED to keep your warranty valid. This will cost from $50-300. Annual cleaning and maintenance keeps your furnace running efficiently, reducing heating cost. It will also make the furnace last longer, so you don’t have to replace it too soon.

If you get Casey Services to do your installation, we offer one year of free maintenance. After that, for $150/year they will perform furnace maintenance in the fall and AC maintenance in the spring.

Furnace Repairs

Even under the best of circumstances and even after getting an annual cleaning, furnaces can still break down, just like any machine. An average repair costs around $295. Electric furnaces are usually $300 or less, while gas furnace service costs can be from $375-1200 because they’re more complex. (ref)

Unlike some HVAC repair contractors, Casey Services NATE Certified technicians aren’t paid on commission, so they’re not incentivized to try to upsell you. We charge $89 for the initial furnace diagnostic cost, and then work with you in a way that best suits your needs.