If your current gas furnace needs a sizable repair or is more than 15 to 20 years old, you may find that investing in a new one is a viable option. Today’s models are more energy efficient and more adept at keeping your home comfortable. But even though your family’s comfort is at stake, buying a new gas furnace should not be an impulse decision. You’ll want to make sure you choose the right product and installer for your budget and your home.
Investing in Efficiency for Your Home
A gas furnace costs between $700 and $1200 on average, not including installation. You may be tempted to choose the most affordable unit and just get the job done, especially if your current unit is out of service. Aside from the price, the wide array of options may also be overwhelming; gas furnaces can last for up to two decades, which means the market may have expanded quite a bit since your last one was installed. But before you let either of these factors push you into making a snap decision, narrow down your options by considering the size of your home and the desired efficiency rating of your furnace.
Heat output is measured in British thermal units (BTU). An average U.S. residence has a load of 60,000 to 80,0000 BTU. While it seems to make sense that a higher BTU rating means better quality of heating, this is not true for smaller homes. The unit will reach the desired temperature quickly and then shut off because it has completed its job. This shutting off and on can create unstable indoor temperatures.
While 80 percent efficiency or less used to be the standard for gas furnaces, today they tend to be closer to 90 percent, or even higher. That means that your new unit could pollute less, heat your home better, and save you money on your monthly bills. If you need help finding an efficient furnace, considering using the Energy Star certification as a guide. A product with this certification meets strict efficiency guidelines determined by U.S Environmental Protection Agency. When it comes to a gas furnace, any model labeled “U.S. South” can be up to 12 percent more efficient and save you $36 in energy costs per year. For the northerners, any model bearing the standard Energy Star logo can be up to 16 percent more efficient and can save you $94 every year.
One of the components that makes many newer models more efficient is the “staging.” Older gas furnaces were one-stage models, meaning they had only one power level and functioned at that level constantly. Today’s two and three-stage models, on the other hand, can start off working at lower lower percentages and then raise to higher percentages as needed, which conserves fuel.
Clearly, there are plenty of efficient options to choose from, so make sure to do your homework.
Hiring the Right Professional
Part of doing that homework is consulting a professional. While it’s nice to have efficiency guidelines that help narrow down the possibilities, advice from an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) specialist is invaluable. The specialist will consider the size and design of your home, the climate, and any ductwork repair or reconfiguration that may be necessary. He or she may even recommend sticking with your old unit and improving other factors in your home to increase the unit’s efficiency, such as adding insulation and sealing off air leaks. It’s often more cost-effective to repair than to replace, so don’t rule out repair unless you know it’s not a viable option.
If you do need a new gas furnace, expect the installation costs to land between $1000 – $2,400. Keep in mind that furnaces with higher ratings tend to mean higher installation rates, but don’t let that dissuade you from choosing a quality product that is right for you. Heating is one of the largest expenses of operating a home, and choosing the wrong product or an inexperienced installer just because they are affordable will probably cost you later on. Make sure that both the furnace and the labor come with written warranties that cover you in case of defects or mistakes.
A new gas furnace will most likely cost you anywhere from $2000 to $4000. Remember that if your home is poorly insulated, it may make more sense to improve the structure rather than buy an updated furnace. Your current unit may be worth repairing, so be sure to do your research and get the right advice from a local professional.