In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the cost to install a gas furnace ranges between $3,000 and $12,000, with the average cost around $5,000.
What causes the wide variety of cost? These 4 factors:
- Furnace efficiency
- Comfort features
- Furnace size
- Furnace installer (labor costs)
Cost factor #1: Furnace efficiency
Furnaces have their own MPG rating called AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) This rating shows how efficiently the furnace turns gas into heat.
The higher the AFUE rating, the more you’ll save on heating bills. But a higher AFUE rating also means the furnace is more expensive upfront.
Furnace efficiencies come in two levels:
- Conventional (mid-efficiency) furnaces: 80% to 84% AFUE
- Condensing (high-efficiency) furnaces: 90% to 98+% AFUE
How to interpret the AFUE rating
Here’s a simple shortcut: Think of the AFUE percentage as the gas that’s actually used to heat your home.
For example, for an 80% AFUE furnace, 80 cents of every dollar you spend on gas goes towards heating your home. The rest is lost due to inefficiencies. On the other hand, a 98% AFUE furnace uses 98 cents of every dollar you spend on gas to heat your home. Only 2% is lost due to inefficiencies.
So, the major difference between an 80% AFUE furnace and a 98% AFUE furnace is the difference between wasting 20 cents vs. wasting 2 cents for every dollar you spend. And that difference will add up big time over 20 years!
Of course, efficiency isn’t everything. Price is also determined by...
Cost factor #2: Comfort features
Do you have uneven heating in your home? Got a few cold spots here and there? If so, pay attention here. “Comfort features” refer to parts of the furnace that affect how comfortable you’ll be during heating season.
The 3 main comfort features to look at include the:
- Blower motor type, which circulates air throughout your home
- Gas valve type, which controls the furnace’s burner
- Blower compartment types, which determines how noisy the blower will be
The better comfort features you have, the more expensive the furnace.
To put furnace comfort features in context, let’s go back to our car analogy. It makes sense that two cars can run at 30 MPG but one is more comfortable to drive in, perhaps due to features like heated seats. Similarly, there can be 2 furnaces with an 80% AFUE rating and one of them can heat your home in a more comfortable manner.
Blower motor types include:
- Single-speed (Good): Provides air only at full blast.
- Multi-speed (Better): Provides air at low, medium or high speeds, depending on what you need. Think of this like a ceiling fan.
- Variable-speed (Best): Incrementally adjusts airflow on your heating needs.
The better your motor, the more even your heating will be throughout your home. No more cold spots!
Gas valve types include:
- Single-stage burner (Good): Provides heat only at full blast or not at all. Think of this like a car that drives as fast as possible all the time.
- Two-stage (or dual-stage) burner (Better): Can run at a high or low setting. The additional low setting allows the furnace to keep the heat from dropping too low beyond your thermostat setting while not having to run at full blast.
- Modulating burner (Best): Adjusts burner to precisely meet your heating needs, keeping your home’s temperature constant. Think of this like a dimmer light switch...but for heat instead of light.
The better the gas valve, the less likely you’ll be blasted with scorching hot air on a mildly cold day.
Blower compartment types includes:
- Insulated: Reduces noise.
- Non-insulated (sometimes called “sealed”): Does not reduce noise well.
Having an insulated compartment increases the price of the furnace.
Cost factor #3: Furnace size
A furnace’s “size” refers to its heating capacity. Bigger furnaces are more expensive than smaller ones.
Here’s the thing though: You don’t get the pick the size you want. The furnace installer will need to do a Manual J Heat Load calculation to determine the size you need.
Why is size so important?
Well, sizing a furnace for a home is like sizing a shoe for a foot: it needs to be just right—no larger or smaller than needed. If the furnace is too large it will heat your home too quickly, causing it to cycle on and off too frequently. Too small and it’ll take too long to heat your home.
Cost factor #4: Furnace installer (Labor cost)
The cost of a furnace installation depends on who is doing the installation. Why? For the same reason the cost of a haircut can vary from shop to shop: Some people are better at their jobs than others and price their services accordingly.
Except, a bad haircut lasts for a few weeks. A bad furnace installation can cost you for years—even decades!
So, even if it costs extra upfront, it’s worth finding a quality furnace installer.
To find a quality installer, ask these questions
- Are your techs NATE certified?
- Do you offer continuing education to your employees?
- Do you offer a labor warranty on your work? How long is it?
- Are you properly licensed? (Ask for proof!)
- How will you measure my furnace’s size? (Some techs give a “rule of thumb” for sizing, like the square footage of your home. Avoid these people.)
- Can you offer a free furnace estimate?