By: Brian Schutt
While many factors on furnace replacement in central Indiana remain constant year to year, we try to update our thinking each year to provide clearer expectations around process, pricing, and opportunities if you have to replace your furnace this year. Here’s our furnace replacement guide for 2020.
Furnace Replacement Guide: The Process
Customer expectations are growing for HVAC companies, and we believe that’s a good thing. Customers in 2020 expect a company to be able to quickly and efficiently communicate before the appointment to meet the set timing, analyze the home and needs of clients thoroughly, and build out thoughtful proposal options within the allotted period.
Communication: Seemingly the easiest thing for HVAC contractors to do, since it’s completely within their control, communication remains a struggle for many in the industry. Customers on the other hand have grown accustomed to other industries that have timely and effective communication. If a company can’t communicate well, it naturally starts to call into question other potential areas of process breakdown. When you’re making a big investment in a furnace replacement, you should expect timely and clear communication.
Analysis: How do you decide what new furnace is right? In 2020, homeowners should expect a company to have consistent steps to gather information and build out proposals. At Homesense Heating & Cooling, we dig into the particulars of the home to determine if there are any issues areas that the current system didn’t address and ask customers thoughtful open-ended questions to ensure if there are any health or comfort concerns. By having a documented process, we can have predictable outcomes for clients. We believe homeowners should expect this from anyone estimating a new furnace.
Options: Further, customers expect a consultative sales process that is analytical, that reaches multiple options for the customer to consider. No longer are “finger in the air” pricing on carbon-paper estimate sheets appropriate. Customers want to see a technology used to communicate multiple options. At Homesense Heating & Cooling, we believe that once homeowners are provided 3 or 4 options and thoughtful descriptions of a furnace replacement estimate, they are capable of making their own decision.
Out: Back of napkin pricing, one-option estimates, take-it or leave-it sales
In: Clear pricing based upon onsite evaluation, multiple option quotes, clear financing process
Furnace Replacement Guide: Pricing
If you’re reading this, you probably scrolled right down to pricing. As we’ve said in years past, there’s no silver bullet to know the best price or right price for a new furnace, but there is a method to get there.
*Before we get to that, it must be noted that equipment prices have seen a pretty large increase since 2017 due to steel and aluminum tariffs. One of our manufacturers has raised prices by 12% since January 1 of 2018, and we expect more in the new year.
The 3 main factors in pricing your furnace replacement will always be Size, efficiency, and brand.
Size: The size of your furnace will be measured in BTUs and generally will be determined by a load calculation or some measurement of the size of the home, insulation, and ductwork capacity. If you are shopping for different companies, this area should be the same for each. The only variation to the BTUs would be that as you increase the efficiency, the BTU input requirement is less. Too many customers (and contractors) for too long operated that if a home is uncomfortable, the system must be too small, and this is much of the time false. A system must be sized right for the square footage and ductwork, among other potential issues to comfort.
Efficiency: This leads into the efficiency rating or AFUE. Standard efficiency furnaces are still 80%. You can quickly tell if you have an 80% efficiency system if your furnace vents with a metal flue. Replacement furnaces are getting up to 98% gas efficiency now, which has the effect of reducing your gas bill and overtime paying for the increased price of equipment. A further benefit, is that the higher efficiency furnaces usually come equipped with comfort-focused variable-speed blowers that deliver a more even temperature throughout homes. As you would guess, the higher efficiency, the higher the price.
Brand: While HVAC brands aren’t usually household names, the ones you may have heard of are likely the most expensive. Brands like Carrier, Bryant, Trane, and Lennox are typically seen as the price standards of the industry, comparable to buying a Mercedes or BMW. We would add a newcomer to the US market, Daikin, among those highest-end brands, as Daikin is the largest HVAC manufacturer in the world. These brands you’ve heard of are typically going to be 5-10% higher in price than lesser-known brands. That price increase is largely driven by higher costs of research and development, longer warranties, and more marketing expense.
Out: Boilerplate pricing, commodity product mindset, “bigger is better” mistake
In: Process for sizing, adding comfort benefits, Buying on value not price
Opportunities in Furnace Replacement
It probably sounds self-serving to talk about “opportunities” within our Furnace Replacement Guide, but I truly view these things as opportunities that most homeowners don’t know about.
Humidity Control: A big factor during the winter is the relative humidity inside your home. Being outside of the recommended range can have an impact on comfort, health, wood furniture and woodwork, and annoying static electricity. Usually for $500-$1000 you can functionally remove this issue during the furnace replacement process.
Air Health: Did you know that indoor air is 3-5 times more polluted than outdoor air? It’s true. And with homes being more tightly constructed to help efficiency, the regular exchange of outdoor air is decreased, trapping the polluted indoor air. This is hard to detect but can be assessed by indoor air quality (IAQ) professionals. Some of the recommendations that may flow from this: are duct cleaning, a HEPA air filter, UV lights, or Reme Halo systems. Each of these would tackle your air quality issues in different ways, but can all be important ways to make your home healthier.
Smart Home Tech: Smart thermostats have become widely popular since Nest came to town a few years ago, and all the other manufacturers tried to follow. The next level of opportunity within smart thermostats is to connect to your smart home control. Alexa and Google enabled thermostats hit our shelves this fall, specifically within the Ecobee4 thermostat line and we expect more to follow. This will make comfort control one step easier, and add very little cost to your new furnace installation.
Out: Basic heating only furnace replacements
In: Air health, comfort, and control
Get Scheduled Today!
We hope this furnace replacement guide was helpful! If you’re a homeowner in the Indianapolis area, Homesense Heating & Cooling is available for your HVAC service, repair, and installation needs. We also work closely with realtors and real estate investors on heating and air issues.
Interested in getting a thoughtful estimate? We’d love to help, just call (317) 458-9255.
We offer complimentary estimates year-round, usually the day you call. Reach out by phone, or submit an appointment request form today.