Heating System Replacement
Heating system replacement is a task every house will eventually require. The best time to inspect and/or replace an existing heating system is when you plan to do other home improvements, save money by avoiding having to do some finish work twice. New heating systems are more energy efficient than older systems and energy savings will start to pay for the heating system immediately.
Things to consider - heating system replacements
If your existing heating system is over 20 years old shop around and get estimates from several heating contractors before deciding on a replacement. Ask the contractor about energy ratings, payment plans, installation costs and if they recommend a change in heating system type. Older homes heated with oil, for example, will cost less per month once upgraded to forced air via natural gas or a thermo pump. Who doesn't love lower energy bills?
Consider the cost of a new system a long term investment that will ultimately help the environment and save you money. The initial cost of a heating system replacement is not cheap but over the life of the system the energy savings are usually substantial. When replacing outdated or broken home heating components opt for an energy-star compliant system whenever possible.
Heating System Replacement - Considerations
- Energy-star compliance
- Oil vs natural gas vs electric
- Payment plans and financing costs
- Installation costs
- Warranty period
- Environmental impact
- Ducting for air conditioning
New Heating System Price Range
Prices vary by type of heating equipment and square footage of the house to be heated. Low-efficiency heating systems cost less to purchase but will cost more to operate. High-efficiency systems have a higher initial cost but save on monthly heating costs. In the United States a new gas furnace has a price range starting at $1,250 and can rise to $10,000 or more for a top of the line model in a larger home. Electric furnaces have a lower initial cost of between $400 and $2000 however these will significantly increase your monthly electric bill.
Furnace Installation and Removal
Regardless of who you buy your new heating system from you will absolutely require a licensed heating contractor to install it. Do not remove, replace or install heating equipment yourself unless you are licensed to do so, it can be very dangerous. A furnace typically takes 4-5 hours to fully install and the contractor may opt to charge you a flat installation fee or to bill you hourly at between $50 and $150. If possible opt for a flat fee if you also have ducting work to be done for your house rehab or flip project.
The larger your house, the more powerful your heating system will need to be. Heating capacity is measured in BTU's which stands for British Thermal Units. The total BTU's required is dependant on the total square footage of your house with some allowance for things like vaulted ceilings and general insulation value of your home.
Changing heating energy source
Before replacing your home heating system you will need to decide if it's feasible to also change the type of energy or fuel your system requires. Check your local rates for electricity and natural gas before deciding to change energy type. If electricity is reliable and cheap in your area you have several options including an electric furnace, a high efficiency thermo-pump and even electric baseboard heaters. Remember, electric baseboard heaters do not require ducting but they will require wiring so check to see if your house has ducting or wiring before switching.
If natural gas is cheaper and you prefer it to electricity you will need sufficient ducting to accomodate the new system as natural gas units are based on a forced-air system.
Other things to keep in mind
Opportunity! When replacing your home heating system it's time to decide if you will also want to ad an air-conditioning unit or higher efficiency filtration system to improve air quality. Forced air units also allow you to install a humidifier to keep the humidity levels in the house at a constant rate, even during dry winter months. Spend some time in finding a reputable contractor as well and check to make sure their licencing is up to date and that they have a good reputation to avoid a negative experience.
It doesn't matter if you are house flipping, rehabbing an older home or just bringing your house up to date, always include a heating system inspection by a professional. Identifying any problems early in your renovation or rehab project will save you time and money down the road.