High-Efficiency Furnaces – Prices & Comparison

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High-efficiency furnace with magnifying glassWe take the confusion out of buying a new furnace or upgrading your old one, with our in-depth comparison of residential high-efficiency furnace prices, efficiency (AFUE) ratings, BTU output, installation costs, and major features for all the top brands and models in Canada.

Natural gas furnaces are generally the most efficient and cost-effective type of forced-air furnace. Efficiency ratings have improved considerably in recent years and prices have come down as well, allowing for lower year-round heating costs for the average homeowner. With 2/3 of your home’s energy use devoted to space heating in the cold Canadian climate, you want to make sure that you are maximizing your energy dollars with a propane or natural gas furnace.

Although we’re discussing residential furnaces, these same systems are also frequently used in small and medium-sized businesses and other commercial spaces as well.

Frigid Canadian winters can leave you feeling like you’re stuck in a deep freeze.  Your home shouldn’t feel that way though.  Step out of the cold and into the warmth and comfort of your home, fueled by a modern energy-efficient furnace.

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Canadian Furnace Prices – The Major Brands

The following prices are meant as a general guideline only. Prices can vary significantly from one area or town to the next, from one company to another, based on local competition, how complicated of an install is required, and many other factors.

In Canada, the minimum efficiency rating that any new furnace can have is 92% AFUE, as mandated by the federal government.  Any ‘mid-efficient’ furnaces (80 – 90 % AFUE) you see advertised on manufacturer websites are mostly aimed at Americans where less efficient models can be sold due to the generally milder climate in much of the country.

So for Canadians, you’ll be buying at least a moderately efficient 92% AFUE furnace, though if you can afford to pay a little bit more — typically an extra few hundred dollars — we’d recommend at least a 95% or 96% AFUE ENERGY STAR model, which will often qualify you for rebates depending on where you live.

For “ultra high-efficiency” furnaces in the 97 – 98.7 % AFUE rating range, expect to pay at least $500 -$1000 more.

These prices will also vary a bit depending on the size of your home and the required size and BTU output of your new forced-air furnace.

Prices are including installation, though again, that will vary considerably from one home to the next.

Natural gas and propane furnace prices are generally similar, however because propane furnaces are often installed in more rural areas, prices may be somewhat higher.

Average STARTING Prices
for Entry-Level High-Efficiency
Furnace (92-95% AFUE)
KeepRite $2400
York $2400
Goodman $2400
Bryant $2750
Amana $2800
Rheem $3000
American Standard $3000
Trane $3200
Lennox $3400
Carrier $3500
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Other Furnace Brands

Although somewhat less popular, many of these brands are still common across Canada. Click for more info about each manufacturer, model details, and more.

Armstrong ComfortMaker
Coleman Heil
Luxaire Payne
Ruud Tempstar

Furnace Replacement Cost

Furnace replacement cost varies by make and model. Different brands and their individual models, efficiency ratings, and size/BTU output will vary in price.

Expect to pay about $2500 at the minimum for a new furnace including installation. On average, for a high-efficiency furnace with at least two stages, most homeowners in Canada will pay somewhere between $2500 and $5000 when all is said and done. Prices can stretch as high as $8000 – $10,000 if it’s a top of the line furnace, if it’s a complex installation (or conversion), if you live further from a large city, and factoring in other costs like financing interest over a period of many years.

In some parts of Toronto, we’ve seen people advertising furnaces as low as $1500 – $1800, which is in part due to relatively higher competition in the region. It is certainly possible to get a good deal and a bargain price. However in many cases these are not established businesses and you may be on your own after the install is complete. We generally recommend carefully researching the company you deal with. Like any home contracting job, you often get what you pay for. Some people we’ve spoken to ended up paying considerably more than the low advertised price after costly “extras” were added to the final bill.

We always recommend buying from a company that offers at least a 1 year warranty on labour and installation, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty. This is another concern if you buy from someone advertising significantly lower prices than the average market rate, it’s more difficult to know if those units were bought directly from the manufacturer and whether the manufacturer will even honor the warranty.

Furnace rental or rent to own programs allow homeowners to replace their furnace without any upfront costs, and pay a flat monthly rate instead. These programs generally come with an included “protection plan” meaning the homeowner never has to pay for repairs or maintenance of the furnace. This may be a good option for some people, however note that the total cost paid will generally be higher overall than if you simply purchase your system, and pay in full after installation.

Installation Costs

Another factor in the cost of a new furnace is the installation. There are many variables at play, so it is impossible to give an estimate here. The best thing is to request a quote from a local company. Here are just a few things that can affect the installation cost of a new furnace:

  • location of furnace – is it easily accessible, is it in a crawlspace, etc
  • venting upgrades – older furnaces tended to be larger than newer models, meaning the plenum (the ductwork connecting to the furnace) must be retrofitted
  • modern safety codes – new safety codes can require upgrades to venting and piping, electrical wiring and so on
  • other extras – things like chimney liners, condensation draining, and so on can add to the final cost
  • Furthermore, a conversion from oil or electric heat to propane or natural gas is also a bit more complicated and costly than a simple natural gas to natural gas furnace replacement.

Finally, the location of your home can affect the price offered by local suppliers. The closer you are to a large urban center, the higher the competition and thus the lower the prices. If you live in the countryside or a small isolated town, installers have to drive farther and unit delivery costs are higher. In addition, if they’re offering you a labour warranty, the potential cost of driving back out for service calls must be factored into their costs.

When Should You Replace Your Furnace?

  1. Age of your furnace: If your furnace is over ten years old there’s a good chance that it is not a particularly energy-efficient model or that it may no longer be operating at its initial efficiency level. Many homeowners don’t have their furnaces cleaned and properly maintained every year, which leads to a gradual reduction in operating efficiency. You may be surprised to learn that your 15, 20 or 25-year old furnace is actually only operating at 50 – 60% AFUE, meaning nearly half your utility costs are completely wasted. Upgrading to a new furnace could mean a reduction in up to 40% in annual heating bills.
  2. Rising utility bills: newer furnaces, especially ENERGY STAR models (95% AFUE and above) waste less energy which means more money in your pocket. Greater efficiency also means less of an impact on the environment.
  3. Broken furnace and/or expensive repairs: your furnace has reached the end of its lifespan and repair costs are more costly than purchasing new. Especially when you factor in the potential savings on your utility bills.

High-Efficiency Furnaces – The Basics

A furnace provides central heating throughout your home.  There are several types of heating systems with one of the most common in Canada being a forced-air furnace.  Forced-air furnaces work by blowing heated air through ducts that deliver the warm air to rooms throughout the house via air registers.  This is a preferred method amongst consumers because it provides heat quickly and it has a quick recovery time when temperature is decreased overnight to save energy, so it doesn’t take long for the home to warm back up again in the morning.

The forced-air furnace when coupled with an efficient fan and motor can help the air conditioning unit send cold air throughout the house as well.  Providing the consumer more value for their money.

Energy-efficient furnaces can also make your home more attractive for resale value, as more and more consumers are conscious of the environment and how their energy dollars are being spent. Replacing your furnace is a fairly significant investment, so knowing that it has been recently upgraded is always a bonus for a potential home buyer.

When choosing a furnace for your home it is important to educate yourself on the following factors: estimated annual energy consumption, operating cost and energy efficiency rating of the furnace.

What efficiency (AFUE) rating is considered a high-efficiency furnace?

Generally, in order to be considered high-efficiency, a furnace must have a minimum AFUE of at least 90%.  However many experts and organizations (such as Energy Star) only consider a furnace with an AFUE rating of at least 95% to qualify. Some manufacturers market their top of the line models as ultra-high-efficiency, and these tend to have AFUE ratings of 97 – 98.8 %.

What does AFUE stand for?

You might be wondering what an AFUE is.  That’s an excellent question.  AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and it measures how efficiently a furnace uses fuel. This number lets you see how effectively your energy dollars are working for you to heat your home. An AFUE rating of 95 (or 95%) means that for every dollar spent on heating fuel, 95 cents of it is being converted to usable heat to warm your home.

What does BTU stand for?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and is a measure of the heating output of your furnace. An improperly-sized furnace will either not heat sufficiently or will be overpowered, causing it to cycle on and off frequently. This wastes energy, causes your home’s temperature to fluctuate, and can even damage your furnace.

Furnace Types – Single Stage vs. Dual Stage vs. Variable Speed vs. Modulating Furnaces

These are the four major “types” of furnace, though a furnace can be both modulating and variable speed (as this refers to burner type and blower speed, respectively). Here’s a comparison of the pros and cons of each one.

As it sounds, only one stage.  With a single stage model, your furnace is either on or it is off, there’s no in between.

Pros of Single Stage Furnaces:

  • somewhat lower initial price

Cons of Single Stage Furnaces:

  • inefficient energy use
  • inconsistent temperature delivery throughout your home
  • inconsistent temperature control; frequent hot-cold fluctuations
  • noisy
  • higher energy bills

A dual stage furnace has high and low settings. It starts off in the first stage which is low output.  The low output stage meets your home’s heating needs 80% of the time.  It switches to the second stage which is high output in response to extreme cold weather changes

Pros of Dual Stage or Two-Stage Furnace:

  • improved temperature delivery throughout your home
  • better temperature control
  • efficient energy use
  • adjusts to weather changes
  • lower energy bills
  • quiet

Cons of Dual Stage or Two-Stage Furnace:

  • somewhat higher initial price than single stage

This refers specifically to the blower, which monitors and adjusts incrementally, to ensure the highest comfort and most precise heat distribution throughout your home

Pros of Variable/Multi-Speed Furnaces:

  • more efficient
  • provides better airflow
  • quieter
  • ECM:  decreases furnace electrical energy consumption by 70% when used continuously

Cons of Variable/Multi-Speed Furnaces:

  • somewhat higher initial price

This refers specifically to the burner, which adjusts incrementally in order to respond to the heat demands of the home

Pros of Modulating Furnaces:

  • improved temperature delivery throughout your home
  • better temperature control
  • efficient energy use
  • equipped with variable speed blower

Cons of Modulating Furnaces:

  • initial cost of purchase is usually more expensive

Advanced Furnace Features

The following features and technology are often featured on top of the line ENERGY STAR furnaces. There is certainly nothing wrong with buying a heating system which doesn’t have any of these features, but for those looking for peak performance and efficiency, look for the following. However furnaces with these features rarely come cheap!

  • ECM Motors
  • Dual heat exchangers: when two heat exchangers are used the furnace is able to draw more heat from the burned gas, which makes them more energy efficient
  • Ignition systems: pilot lights are becoming a thing of the past, in favour of an electronic ignition system which increases a furnace’s efficiency rating.
  • Programmable & “smart” thermostats: Not a furnace feature per se, more of an addon. But programmable thermostats are easy to use and will save you money. New ‘smart’ thermostats can learn from your personal heating preferences and adjust your home’s heating automatically, like lowering the temperature during the day when you’re at work. Turning your thermostat down just one degree each night results in a 2% reduction (PDF) on your annual heating bill.

What is an ECM motor?

ECM stands for Electronically Commutated Motor and is essentially a motor which adjusts its speed to ensure precise and consistent airflow in an efficient way. Think of them kind of like cruise control on your car, in the way engine output will be precisely adjusted based on changing needs (going uphill, etc) in order to efficiently maintain a consistent driving speed.

ECM motors can significantly reduce your furnace’s electricity usage.

Choosing a Fuel Type for your Furnace – Propane vs. Natural Gas vs. Oil

When choosing a fuel type for your furnace the two major options for Canadians are: natural gas or propane. The biggest factor that must be taken into consideration when deciding between a natural gas or propane furnace is whether you live in an urban or rural area.  Your location will dictate which energy source is more appropriate for your furnace.  Most urban city centers are equipped with natural gas pipelines making it the obvious choice.

In rural settings natural gas pipeline infrastructure is not as readily available or may not be installed, which makes propane the most cost-effective energy source over oil and electrical heating. Propane is somewhat less efficient than natural gas but is still a good alternative. One downside is that propane heating requires the installation of a large tank on your property, which is refilled periodically.

Oil is becoming increasingly rare as a heating fuel for homes. Oil furnaces are not energy efficient, with some having an AFUE of only 60% (PDF). That means for every energy dollar only 60 cents is going to heat your home, and the rest is being wasted, making it significantly costlier to heat your home. Not only is money being wasted and energy lost, an oil furnace puts more strain on the environment by burning more fossil fuel, which increases your eco-footprint. This is why so many Canadians are choosing to make the switch away from oil heat.

And with the exception of people living in Quebec who get relatively cheap electricity from Hydro Quebec, homeowners with electric heating in Ontario and elsewhere are increasingly switching to natural gas or propane due to high heating costs.

For more information on conversions from oil or electric to propane or gas, see here.

Furnace Brand Comparisons – Which Brand is the Best?

When investing in your new residential furnace for your home (or business) you want to ensure that you get something reliable and widely used. This also has the advantage of making parts more common and repairs easier, should your system ever break down.

The manufacturers listed below are some of the top furnace brands in the business, providing you with a well-known name, and quality product that these companies have been manufacturing for generations. These are some of the largest and most popular brands, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from other companies’ products either. There are dozens of brands on the market and we simply can’t cover them all here.

So what’s the best furnace? There’s no easy answer to that question. All of the companies here make generally good quality and reliable products.

One of our most commonly recommended furnace brands is Goodman, due to their high reliability ratings, good heat exchangers (a key component of the furnace), good value and relatively modest prices.

What matters most is that the sizing is done correctly and installation is done by a reputable local company with certified and licensed installers. The easiest way to find one is by requesting a free quote here.

Rheem

Rheem, established in 1925, offers a variety of residential home heating systems in the mid-range and ENERGY STAR natural gas furnaces, to suit every budget and need. They boast excellent warranty packages and up-to-date furnace technology.

Notable features: trademarked EcoNet technology, and trademarked PlusOne ignition system

Rheem

Lennox

Lennox has been in the home heating business for 125 years, with that kind of longevity you can rest assured that they stand behind their products, and are a leader in the business.  Boasting comprehensive warranty protection, Lennox warranties range from 5 years to the lifetime of your furnace (and also offer extended warranties for greater peace of mind).

Notable features: Power Saver trademarked technology; consistent temperature

Lennox

Goodman

Established in 1982, Goodman has been a respected member in the industry for over three decades.  They pride themselves on meeting the highest industry standards while still maintaining affordability.  Offering good product warranties, they are a name you can trust for quality product and geat budget friendly prices.

Notable features: excellent warranty plans, overall reliability and affordable prices

Goodman

Amana

Amana has been around for over eight decades, established in 1934, they boast an outstanding limited warranty and pride themselves on their high quality products that are built to last. They are Goodman’s parent company.

Notable features: equipped with stainless steel tubular primary heat exchanger

Amana

American Standard

American Standard has provided us with more than 100 years of history and innovation. Known for the quality, dependability and reliability of their products they offer a wide range of products.

Notable features: AccuLink trademarked connectivity, remote monitoring and programming available

American Standard

Trane

Trane offers a wide variety of ENERGY STAR furnaces to suit a range of needs and budgets.  They feature up-to-date furnace technology that will have you enjoying a warm and reliable furnace for years to come.

Notable features:  variable speed gas furnaces, with single or two stage heating

Trane

Other Important Considerations

Warranty

Warranty information is brand specific so the amount of coverage will depend on which model and company you purchase your furnace from. These typically range from 5 year limited parts warranties to 10-year, 20-year or lifetime ‘comprehensive’ warranties.

Warranties that you are entitled to include: manufacturer warranty which includes parts warranty, heat exchanger warranty). Be sure to read the fine print carefully and ensure that you register your warranties so that they are on file. Some warranties require annual maintenance and cleaning be done a certified technician.

You may also get additional labour warranty coverage on the installation through your licensed HVAC technician who completes your new home furnace installation, typically for the period of one year.

Rebates and Incentives

Different provinces have different rebates and incentives available and these are subject to change. If you are a resident of the province of Ontario, you may be eligible for one of the following rebates and incentives, specific to ENERGY STAR propane or natural gas furnaces:

  • Ontario Power Authority rebate of $250 for upgrading to an Energy Star model furnace
  • Enbridge Gas Distribution: Enbridge provides $2000 toward home energy audit and upgrade costs
  • Hydro One: Hydro One offers $250 off new high-efficiency furnace

For more information on current heating & cooling rebates and incentives in Canada, please see here.

Humidifiers and Air Filtration

These add-ons can help filter your home’s air and maintain optimal humidity, making air healthier and easier to breathe. Air filtration systems reduce allergens and pollutants and makes breathing easier, while also reducing the chance of mould, asthma flair ups, and other skin and respiratory issues. It is important to change your air filter periodically in order to maximize the efficiency of your furnace.

Outside Temperature  Recommended House Humidity
 -20°F  15%
 -20°F to -10°F  20%
 -10°F to 0°F  25%
 0°F to +10°F  35%
 +10°F and above  40%
 Summer months  Off
Zoned Heating

Zoned heating allows you to control the temp of individual rooms, which is a fairly expensive upgrade. It can be beneficial especially with large homes, as it allows you to heat the rooms you use the most, while keeping the others at a lower temperature when you’re not using them.

Most houses are non-zoned = 1 thermostat that controls the heating of the whole house (natural gas furnace or propane furnace). Though individual vents may have manual switches to close air flow for a particular room.

Home Assessment

There is a common myth out there that square footage is the only factor required to determine the size of a residential home heating system.  Many factors need to be taken into account when determining the appropriate furnace size to heat your home.

Other factors that may be considered during a home assessment include:

  • type of insulation used
  • amount of insulation
  • climate
  • windows: size, type, amount, direction they face
  • house material – vinyl siding vs. brick
  • seals
  • air leakage
  • vents
  • ductwork

A professional will assess all of these factors in order to provide you with a home heating system that meets your home’s needs. You can request a free quote from local professionals with the form above.

Summary of Key Points

  • The minimum efficiency furnace you can purchase in Canada is 92% AFUE
  • Top high-efficiency furnaces on the market have AFUE of 95-98%
  • BTU needs to be considered when choosing the right size of heating system. Newer furnaces are more efficient so you generally won’t need as high a BTU rating as your old model. Your local expert will help you size your unit correctly.
  • In some situations, a heat/loss calculation might need to be conducted by a professional to determine the right furnace for your home
  • A high-efficiency furnace uses less energy and lowers your utility bills, helping offset the cost of upgrading
  • Lowering the temperature on your programmable thermostat, even by 1 degree Celsius will result in a decrease on your home energy bill.

The only thing left to do is request a free quote from trusted local heating & cooling companies in your area!

Get Free Quotes!
Get quick free quotes from respected local distributors & contractors now!
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