How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Furnace?
The costs to operate a gas furnace is about 63% cheaper than an electric furnace when heating an average sized home. The average cost of residential electricity in the US was 13.30 cents per kilowatt hour in August 2019. In comparison natural gas costs around $1.01 per therm to run. An electric furnaces cost to operate could be around $2,628 a year while a gas furnaces cost to operate would be around $1,800 a year. This of course will depend on the average climate extremities in your area.
Use our climate map below to help you understand your climate zone and associated furnace heating output needs discussed below.
What Size Electric Furnace Do You Need?
To make sure you are choosing the correct electric furnace sizing for your home you’ll need to determine the right size ton heater and BTUs heating capability based on the square footage of your home along with the climate where you live.
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 1500 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 ft||50,000 BTU||1.5 to 2 tons|
|1200 to 1500 square ft||55,000 BTU||2 tons|
|1500 to 1800 square ft||60,000 BTU||2.5 tons|
|1800 to 2500 square ft||70,000 BTU||2.5 to 3 tons|
|2500 to 3500 square ft||90,000 to 100,000 BTU||3.5 to 4 tons|
Electric Furnace Heaters vs. Gas Furnaces
Installing an electric furnace heater is usually a popular choice for homeowners who do not have access to a natural gas main line for a gas furnace installation. Electric furnace installation is a pretty straightforward process and due to them not needing to be vented, are much easier to replace than gas furnaces. Electric home furnaces are also more quiet when operating than a gas furnace. In addition, electric furnaces can last from 20 to 30 years, while a gas furnace usually only lasts 15 to 20 years.
Electric Furnace Labor Costs
An HVAC installation contractor usually charges $45 to $145 per hour. Since electric furnaces are genuinely easier to install than other furnace types, you may pay less in installation and labor altogether. If you are replacing an old electric furnace, the labor costs will most likely be higher than if you are simply needing to repair your forced air heating unit. It all depends how many hours in total it takes to complete the furnace installation or replacement and how many skilled contractors are needed to do the job. Make sure to discuss labor costs with your contractor to understand how long the job will take and how much it will cost you.
Best Electric Furnace Brands
When looking to install an electric furnace, you will have the option to install a particular brand if you so choose. Quality of electric furnaces doesn’t tend to vary quite as much between the top furnace brands as it would with a gas or oil furnace replacement. However the costs will vary between each brand, you may be more interested in installing a high tier brand name electric furnace such as American Standard forced air electric furnace which would cost around $1,143 for the furnace alone and installation costs would be around $2,400. A more affordable option would be to purchase a Coleman electric furnace which prices out at around $482 for the furnace and around $1,825 to install.
Electric Furnace Costs by Brand
|Electric Furnace Brands||Electric Furnace Prices||Installation Costs|
|American Standard Furnaces||$1,143||$2,400|
Other Factors that Affect Electric Furnace Installation Costs
A few factors will determine the overall costs to install your new electric furnace. If you currently have ductwork in place then you’ll pay significantly less if you needed new ductwork or to replace vents in your home. You may also need to upgrade your current insulation if your home isn’t properly insulated you will lose a lot heating and cooling capacity due to heat loss. This can be caused by drafty windows and overall home insulation and may need to be discussed with your contractor.
A quality electric furnace installer will bring all potential additional costs to light early on during their initial quote and review of your home and the current state of your heating system. Be sure to ask your contractor about any equipment removal fees (discarding of old HVAC unit), inspection fees, etc.
Electric Furnace Installation
Installing an electric furnace takes much less time to complete 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 installer 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.
Electric Furnace Maintenance
Along with scheduled visits from an electric 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 heated 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.
- Your furnaces air blower also must be kept clean. Use a 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 electric furnace 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.