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More newbie questions ;-)

The house we're looking to buy has an older furnace that "may be manufactured by the Permier/Consolidated furnace company" according to general inspections. We're in the process of getting it inspected by a heating professional.

If we need to get the furnace replaced, I'm wondering what kind of costs would be involved...

Cost Helper mentioned that the costs of a new furnace could be anywhere from $7500+. Yet I also found some at Alpine Home Air for $550+. That's a substantial difference in cost. What's the difference here? Are there safety concerns that more expensive models don't have?

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I don't have an answer to your question, but be sure to check for government subsidies. For instance, in Massachusetts you may be able to get hundreds of dollars in rebated on a furnace, a 75% rebate up to $2000 for some energy efficiency improvements (don't know if this includes replacing the furnace), and a 0% seven-year loan for up to $15,000. – Vebjorn Ljosa Sep 11 '10 at 11:08
The $550 doesn't seem to include the costs of removing the old unit and installing a new one. (Labor is a large component of the cost.) – msemack Oct 12 '10 at 22:33
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There should be zero difference in the safety between the least and most expensive furnace. The major differences will feature related. Any modern furnace purchased in the US meets the appropriate ASTM, NFPA, et al, specifications.

More expensive furnaces will features like:

Humidifers, multi zone heating ability, economizer, multiple heat exchangers for additional burner efficiency, VFDs to vary the blower fan speed, more advanced burner ignition systems, improved filtration and some even come with electrostatic precipitators built in to help improve your IAQ (indoor air quality).

However, you will not get a "safer" furnace by purchasing a more expensive one. I guess there is one caveat - eliminating a pilot light ignition is safer as you don't have to worry about the light blowing out and having that gas leaking, but I don't think anyone is building pilot light furnaces anymore (don't quote me on that). So if there's any recommendation I can make - buy one sans pilot light.

And just like any other consumer product - a lot of times you will pay a big premium to purchase products from a marketing company which has an HVAC division... (if you catch my drift)

Make sure to get at least 3 estimates to replace that furnace from reputable mechanical contractors (not big box store resellers who just farm out work to a mechanical contractor).

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Awesome response. Thanks! – Mike B Oct 13 '10 at 1:31

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