For most homeowners, there is a feeling of dread the day a major appliance conks out and needs to be replaced. And if you live in a city like Calgary, known for our winters, the thought of having your furnace go out in the middle of a cold winter night, can keep you up at night.
As furnaces tend to last a long time (furnaces should last 20 years with proper maintenance, with some furnace lasting over 40 years), some of us have never had to replace a furnace before and therefore may have no idea what they cost to replace. So, what does a new furnace cost?
The average cost of a reputable new high-efficiency furnace in Calgary is $4,000 to $7,500 (installed).
Okay, that’s quite a range. Let’s take a closer look at the various factors that affect the cost of a new furnace.
3 Factors impacting the cost
1. The size of your home
The larger your home, the larger the furnace will need to be. Generally the larger the heat output of the furnace, the more it will cost. Furnace manufacturers will offer a given model of the furnace in many different sizes ranging from as small as 45,000 btuh – up to 135,000 btuh. Generally, a 135,000 btuh furnace will be about 25% more than the cost of the same furnace model sized at 45,000 btuh.
It is very important that the furnace installed is properly sized for a home, just as a furnace which is too small for the job will need to work harder and longer to keep your home warm (putting it under increased strain, requiring and require more repairs) a furnace which is oversized can short cycle leading to uneven temperature distributions and shortened life span of the furnace. Having a professional installer to provide you with a quote, you can be sure they will properly size a furnace that is correct for your home.
2. Type of furnace
Today, all furnaces are built to “high efficiency” standards. Premium name-brand furnaces (like Lennox) are built to a higher standard, have a reputation for excellence, and are backed by warranty. They are quieter and last longer.
Generally speaking, there are three categories of furnaces:
i. Single-stage furnaces blow air at full capacity when they are running. Once the temperature reaches the temperature set point they shut off. Cost of single-stage furnace, fixed-speed ECM blower motor: $4,000 – $5,500 (installed).
ii. Models with two-stage heating will run at a lower speed and heat output when the weather is mild, and at higher speed and output when it starts getting colder. The furnace ideally matches heating output with heating demand. Advantages include: more consistent distribution of warm air, quieter operation, less stopping and starting (for less wear and tear) and increased energy savings. Cost of two-stage furnace, variable-speed blower: $5,000 – $6,500 (installed).
iii. Modulating furnaces are designed to consistently keep your home at a steady temperature at all times. The heating output of the furnace can match the heating demand of the home, ranging from 30% heating output to 100% heating output and anywhere in between. This means that the furnace quietly runs for longer stretches, and circulates warm air consistently through your home. The end result is a more even temperature distribution among different areas of the home and a more comfortable environment. While the warm air runs more or less continually, these furnaces are actually more efficient than single- or two-stage furnaces, using less energy overall. Cost of modulating furnace, variable-speed blower: $6,000 – $7,500.
3. Difficulty of installation
Each furnace installation is different. Some are hard to access. Others may need the addition of a condensate pump if a floor drain is not present near the furnace or in some cases custom sheet metal fabrication is needed to hook up to existing ductwork. Venting of the new furnaces using the plastic vent pipes can also impact the complexity of the install. Some older homes may have building code deficiencies that need to be brought up to code at the time of installation. Having some or all of these factors can affect the cost of a furnace installation.
A furnace installation with a combination of code deficiencies, complicated venting, furnace relocation requirement, etc. can add between $100 – $500 to the cost of the installation.
In the vast majority of cases, a trained, certified, and experienced installer can remove and install a new furnace in a single day, addressing any home-specific items they may run into. It is important to engage a reputable furnace installation company that will identify the specific requirements of your furnace replacement at the time the furnace is quoted so on the day of installation the installer is prepared and has everything needed to complete the work.
Additional features and options
Given Calgary’s dry climate, many homeowners choose to have a humidifier installed on the furnace. This adds moisture to the air. Humidifiers are recommended for those with hardwood or laminate flooring, because the moisture can prevent cracking and extend the floor’s life. It can also help keep your skin and hair feeling smoother. Proper humidity also is more comfortable and leads to the feeling of a cozier home.
Homeowners who are concerned with improving air quality may opt for an air purification system or a UV light system to kill bacteria and microbes. These systems can be installed at the same time as a furnace, at an additional cost.
Don’t forget the cost to install your furnace!
Buying a new furnace isn’t like buying a freezer, where you simply take it out of the box and plug it in. As a gas appliance, it must be installed by a qualified professional.
Typically, when a professional furnace service and maintenance company provides a quote for a new furnace, it will be for turn-key installation by a certified journeyman installer. The company will contact the municipality to pay for and pull the required permit and will be responsible for ensuring all work is done properly and passes inspection.
It is important to recognize that the longevity and reliability of a new furnace are partially related to the brand of furnace you choose, but the most important factor impacting your furnace longevity and reliability is the quality of the furnace installation and the experience, care, and skill of the installer completing the installation. A poorly installed furnace may not last 10 years while a properly installed furnace will last more than 20 years. Be careful to select a company with a great reputation for quality work with lots of experience in furnace installation.
An investment in your comfort
As Calgarians, we rely on our furnaces to keep our homes warm… practically year-round (yes, that includes June and August). On those frost winter days, you’ll thank yourself for choosing the right one. A new furnace, properly install furnace will last you for a long time, so it’s a good idea to invest in a unit that checks all the boxes for warmth, performance, energy efficiency, reliability and quiet operation.
A final tip: Don’t feel the need to settle for a furnace with fewer features or a less recognized brand to save money. Most reputable Furnace Installation Companies offer financing packages that allow you to spread the cost over several years to keep your payments manageable. These financing plans generally offer at least 3 months of no interest no payments and are open, meaning they can be paid off partially or in full at any time during the loan term at no cost to you.
Buyer’s Tip: Be wary of fly-by-night furnace installers. If the price is too good to be true, it usually is. It is important to consider if lesser-known, one-off installation companies will be there to warranty their work down the road if the furnace fails, if they are pulling permits, have proper insurance or have WCB coverage. If the answer is no to any of these, this is a red flag. Doing research on your service provider and reading a couple of reviews online about a given company can save you huge headaches down the road.
To read the Homeowner’s Furnace Guide, click here.