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Furnace Replacement Cost Estimator
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Blog 11/9/18

Furnace Replacement Cost Estimator

It is almost an inedibility that homeowners will have to replace a home’s furnace at some point. Whether homeowners are installing a furnace for the first time (in a home with no central heat & air), replacing an old and inefficient system, or building a new home a deciding to add central air capability, a new furnace cost will be a big investment.

Furnace costs can range from relatively inexpensive to the cost of a new vehicle. It will depend on several factors, but will likely be one of the most expensive appliances purchased for the home. There is good news for homeowners in the furnace market, however, and that is financing! With a little bit of research, the right heating contractor, and planning, homeowners can get warm and save money.

The Right Furnace

Choosing the right furnace is more than just searching for a quality brand. If a homeowner is replacing a 15 or 20-year-old furnace, they will have a lot more options on furnace types, efficiency standards than the previous furnace and this is good news. Just like the cost of installing a furnace, the cost of running a furnace is a consideration.

In California, most furnaces will be rated at 90 percent efficiency or higher. This means that only 10 percent or less will be lost during the combustion process for natural gas furnaces. If homeowners go with electric styles, such as a Mitsubishis ductless system, the efficiency only goes up.

Efficiency ratings are not the only consideration in getting the right furnace for the home. Other factors include size, stage, electric versus natural gas, and brand.

Furnace Size

Bigger furnaces come with bigger price tags, but homeowners cannot simply choose a furnace size like they would a cup of coffee. Furnace size should be chosen based on the home. An improperly sized furnace will result in improper heating, higher utility costs, as well as possible failures down the road.

During the estimation process, homeowners should ensure that they are comparing quotes on furnace sizes. If one company recommends a drastically different size, it should be a red flag. Home comfort advisors providing estimates typically spend at least an hour on site with the homeowner discussing the needs of the family, as well as diagramming the home to recommend and provide an estimate for the perfect size furnace. Homeowners can also research proposals online through manufacturer websites to help them understand if they are getting the right estimate for the right furnace.


A single or multi-stage furnace refers to operation settings of gas supply. A single stage furnace basically has two speeds, on at full power or off. Once a single-stage valve is turned on, the gas supply is ignited and runs at full force.

A multi-stage furnace operates differently. Multi-stage furnaces have gas valves that can operate more efficiently, in lower positions. Benefits of a multi-stage furnace include a more efficient and even heating throughout the home, as well as energy savings. When the furnace first heats up on a multi-stage furnace, the heat level will be low while it begins operating and lessens the wasted heat and energy. It also operates based on the weather and thermostat settings, so it is an automatic process providing the optimal level of gas supply.

Multi-stage furnaces will be more expensive than single-stage systems, but the benefits of efficient heating, eliminating uneven or cold spots in the home far outweigh the additional cost.

Electric Versus Natural Gas

Sometimes, homeowners do not have a choice between natural gas and electric appliances as it depends greatly on the home configuration. Scenarios in which homeowners can make a choice, including installing a brand-new furnace in new construction or in a home that previously did not have central heating. The most common time this happens in San Diego is when replacing a wall heating or floor heating system with central air. Often, it is much more efficient, and cost-effective, to install an electric ductless system than forced heating. This is due to ductwork.

In some homes, ductwork makes no sense. In some older homes, ducting was not installed and the space to install ductwork can make the installation tricky, inefficient, or simply too costly. Most of these older homes are ideal situations for a ductless system.

Ductless Heat

Ductless systems are great choices for smaller homes, room additions, or garages and other detached heating applications. They are incredibly efficient and provide both heat and air conditioning in one system. Ductless systems have an outdoor component and indoor air handlers that can be installed in any space homeowners wish to achieve heating or cooling solutions. They can be wall mounted, recessed in the ceiling, and even mounted closer to the floor depending on space and aesthetics.

Because they are not using ducting to force air throughout the home, there is little to no heat “loss” form leaky seals or natural heat loss, and they also provide zone control. Imagine wanting to heat only one or two spaces within the home, it’s easy with a ductless system.

Because they offer zone control, the ability to heat and/or cool different rooms throughout the home at the same time, ductless systems are becoming much more popular in traditional settings as well. Even if a home is set up with ductwork, it might make sense to replace an old inefficient forced air furnace with a ductless system.

They are ideal in smaller spaces, but even with large homes, the control homeowners have makes them one of the most efficient ways to provide comfort in winter and in summer.

The price tag on ductless systems often comes as a surprise to homeowners, as it is believed they are much cheaper than they actually are. However, ductless systems can still be costly even as much as a forced air system. They are unlike wall units or window units which simply require an outlet and possibly a little handyman work. As they should be professionally installed and require permits.

However, homeowners installing a ductless system can look to special financing from the HERO program. The HERO program rewards homeowners upgrading their appliances to high-efficiency products through a special financing opportunity. It is typically easy to be approved and homeowners can tie financing to the home, rather than going through traditional financing. Plus, Bill Howe Heating & Air offers incentives for upgrading to a Mitsubishi ductless system year-round. 


In California, all furnace and air conditioning manufacturers are required to adhere to high standards regarding efficiency, so even lesser brands will offer quality systems. And while the brand or manufacturer can vary slightly, choosing a system solely on the brand name will not have a huge effect on the overall system performance. The biggest factors in system quality come during installation, proper sizing, proper maintenance and ensuring the furnace meets the needs of the family.

Bill Howe Heating specialist recommend homeowners research their brand preferences based on warranties offered alongside other factors of furnace installation to make the best-informed decision.

So How Much Does a New Furnace Actually Cost?

Homeowners can expect to pay, on average, close to $4,000 for replacement furnaces. Included in cost estimates are permits, labor costs, product costs, a and typically come with at least one year of maintenance. The costs do go up with higher efficiency models, for larger units/homes, and for any additional work such as re-ducting or relocating the system. It is recommended to obtain at least three estimates from licensed contractors and compare them based on equipment details. However, homeowners should ensure they are cost comparing “apples to apples,” as many companies will use their own preferred brands and could quote different types of systems.

Choosing the right contractor doesn’t have to be a challenge, though. Homeowners should use a contractor with a current and unblemished license, and can verify this through the California State Licensing Board. Ask neighbors, friends, and family for referrals, and choose a contractor who impresses you by spending time on tailoring the estimate to your desires and needs. Red flags such as an estimator who does not spend time discussing the installation, or a company with no reviews or few good reviews, or a company who is unwilling to answer questions should prompt homeowners to do more research.

In the end, homewares should understand all of the different factors that go into a new furnace installation, as there are many variables that can change the cost significantly. Investing in a new furnace is not only a luxury but for most, a necessity. Start early so making the decision is not based on needing heat right away and ask lots of questions.

For the highest level of customer service and a team dedicated to finding the right comfort solution for your home, call the experts at Bill Howe Heating & Air. Call 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-*5469) today with over 4,000 5-star reviews, Bill Howe has been trusted in San Diego since 1980.


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