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Electric Furnaces
2019 Buying Guide

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Electric Furnaces vs. Gas Furnaces

Installing an electric furnace is usually a popular choice for homeowners who do not have access to a natural gas main line for a gas furnace installation. The initial cost for an electric furnace is lower but the cost to operate an electric furnace is more expensive. Electric furnace installation is a pretty straightforward process and easier to install than gas. Electric home furnaces are also more quiet when operating than a gas furnace. In addition,  electric furnaces boast a longer lifespan of 20 to 30 years, while a gas furnace usually only lasts 15 to 20 years.

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How Much Does an Electric Furnace Cost? 

An electric furnace installation is generally cheaper compared to other home heating replacement options based on initial costs. The electric furnace unit alone will cost between $380 to $1200 depending on the furnace brand, energy efficiency (AFUE rating), and a few other factors. The total installation costs of a new electric furnace will usually average out to $1800 with labor costs. This is considerably cheaper than a natural gas installation cost of $2675 or an oil burning furnace installation cost of $5700.

Electric Furnace Costs to Operate

The costs to operate an electric furnace vs. a gas furnace vary considerably. The average cost of residential electricity is 12 cents per kilowatt hour. In comparison natural gas costs around  $1.01 per therm. Using those figures, the cost of generating 1 million BTUs of heat would cost $35.82 with electricity and $12.53 for gas. Operation costs for gas furnaces are about 63% cheaper than electric furnaces when heating an average size home.

Electric Furnace Brands

Installing a quality electric furnace brand is an important factor in choosing a new furnace replacement. Furnace brand choice will also effect the total installation cost for your HVAC system. Here is a run down of some of the best electric furnace brands on the market:

Affordable Brands ($600 to $1,000):

  • Payne
  • Goodman
  • Coleman
  • York
  • Heil
  • Amana
  • Nordyne
  • Bryant

Mid to High Tier Brands: ($1,000 to $1,500):

See our full list of the best electric furnace brands with cost comparisons, descriptions, and more.

Electric Furnace BrandsElectric Furnace Unit CostElectric Furnace Installation Cost
Average Electric Furnace Prices:$685$1,875
American Standard$1,143$2,400

What Size Electric Furnace Do You Need? 

The key to choosing your new heating unit will be to make sure you are choosing the correct electric furnace sizing for your home.  Determining the right size tonnage based on the square footage of your home along with the climate where you live is key. For example, if you live in the north in Zone 5 and your home is between 1400 to 1600 square feet, a 2.5-ton electric furnace can do the job. In comparison, a home in the southern Zone 1 region with square footage of 1501 to 1800 square feet may needs the power of a 3-ton unit.

Home Size (Single Story):Electric Furnace Output Needed (BTU per hour.):AC Unit Size Needed:
1200 square ft50,000 BTU1.5 to 2 tons
1200 to 1500 square ft55,000 BTU2 tons
1500 to 1800 square ft60,000 BTU2.5 tons
1800 to 2500 square ft70,000 BTU2.5 to 3 tons
2500 to 3500 square ft90,000 to 100,000 BTU3.5 to 4 tons

Hiring an Electric Furnace Installer

Installation time for an electric furnace is less than that of a full natural gas furnace or oil burning furnace. This is an important advantage as it means your household will be disrupted for a shorter time as compared to the installation of other types of HVAC systems. When hiring an electric furnace contractor there are a few things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Ask for several bids from local electric furnace contractors in order to get the best price. Be careful to not always go with the lowest quote, as you could potentially get inferior service or equipment.
  • Ask your HVAC contractors what their equipment markup is. A cheaper labor cost might include hidden markups in the electric furnace equipment price.
  • Ask your furnace installer about installing a new thermostat as well. Often, newer technologies require newer devices to run them.
  • Ask for a detailed cost list or proposal that outlines the entire scope of the electric furnace installation job including furnace manufacturers used with model numbers and have scheduled completion dates agreed on.
  • Ask the contractor to go over your new electric furnace price quote including mathematical calculations used to size the electric furnace. Verify that their calculations are correct to avoid buying an incorrect furnace size for your home.
  • Ask for name brand furnace equipment. Cheap knockoffs can be risky investments that might fail early on and leave you without heat until repaired.

A lot goes into replacing an electric furnace and it’s important to choose the best HVAC contractor for the job. Being thorough and doing your homework will increase the chances of an easy electric furnace installation or repair. Use this step by step HVAC contractor checklist during your HVAC installation to make things easier on you.

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Electric Furnace Maintenance Tips

Along with scheduled visits from a furnace contractor, there are several steps you need to take to ensure the system operates at max efficiency. Your electric furnace works hard to funnel air from every room in the house and needs proper maintenance. Follow these simple steps to help your system run more efficiently:

    • Before doing anything, turn off the power and unplug the system. Never work on an electric home heating system while electricity is running through the system.
    • Keep yourself extra safe by wearing appropriate safety gear such as rubber gloves, rubber soled shoes, and protective eye wear such as safety goggles.
    • Materials you need include a screwdriver, soft brush, several soft towels, vacuum, and a replacement filter, if needed.
    • Every electric furnace system has an instruction manual. Acquaint yourself with the dos and don’ts. Read the manual from the first page to the last especially any warnings and information about items or products not to be used on the furnace.
    • The electric furnace filter is a hard working part of the furnace and must be kept clean for the unit to run efficiently. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing a disposable filter, or the steps when working with a reusable filter.
    • The air blower also must be kept clean. Use the screwdriver to remove the cover panel. You may also need to remove the fan. Some assemblies slide out, making access easier, it just depends on the model. Clean the blades with the small brush, removing all dirt and debris. With the vacuum hose, remove all the loose dirt. Wipe down the unit using a clean soft cloth.
    • With another cloth, thoroughly wipe down the motor housing. Do not use soap or water unless specifically approved by the manufacturer as these items can damage the furnace. Keeping this part of the system clean promotes efficient operation and prevents the furnace from overheating.
    • Belts and pulleys play a significant role in furnace operation as they work with the motor which produces the heat for your home. Visually check the belts for any issues such as worn areas, cracks, breaks, or tears. Replace if necessary or call a technician to do the job. If they look good, scrub them with a brush, then wipe them down with another soft cloth.
    • If the manufacturer instructions allow for the use of water to clean areas such as the blades or belts, allow the furnace to completely dry before plugging in and restoring electricity to the unit.
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