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Heating and cooling accounts for almost two-thirds of household electricity use, so it makes sense to choose a furnace that’s energy-efficient and easy on the environment.

 

Buying a new furnace is a major investment. Depending on efficiency level and type of furnace – electric, natural gas, oil or propane – you can expect to pay between $2,500 and $5,500 or more.

Understanding the key considerations will help you decide when it's better to invest in a new, more efficient furnace, or when a repair will extend its life for a few years. Take time to research the options and understand the benefits of going high-efficiency. Here are three questions to help you plan ahead and make an informed decision.

 

3 questions to help you decide

 

1. How Long Does A Furnace Last?

Depending on when it was installed, a furnace can work reliably for 15 to 20 years – and likely more, if properly maintained.

As it nears the 15-year mark, pay attention to signs of wear and tear, and monitor your bills for any irregularities. Common warning signs of an ailing furnace are frequent repairs, rising energy bills despite a constant temperature, unexplained noises (such as popping, banging or screeching), and dust or soot build-up around registers.

A furnace lasts approximately 15 years, depending on maintenance and other factors.
 

2. How Old Is Your Furnace?

The easiest way to find out is by checking your records: your contractor’s bill, owner’s manual or the installation label on the actual furnace. If that doesn’t work, find the name plate, model number or serial number, and contact the manufacturer. Another clue is simply the size: older furnaces were designed to heat homes in quick bursts, so they’re substantially larger than newer, more efficient models.

3. How Efficient Is Your Furnace?

Thanks to innovation and new regulations, the newest models are considerably more efficient. Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations require furnaces to be at least 90% efficient, whereas older models were rated at about 65%. Purchase price tends to reflect efficiency ratings, but the energy savings on your bill can offset the cost in a few years. There are many variables, from heat source to size to type of home, so consult a reputable contractor to help you figure out the up-front costs versus long-term savings.

 
 

New oil, gas and propane furnaces carry the EnerGuide label to help buyers compare the energy performance of similar models. Furnace efficiency is rated by the annual fuel utilization (AFUE): the most efficient systems are rated between 90% and 98% efficiency. A furnace with a 98% AFUE rating returns 98% of the fuel burned as heat; the remainder represents the amount of energy lost, mainly through burning.

Look for the EnerGuide label
Energuide label

The benefits of a high-efficiency furnace

From monthly bill savings to added comfort features, a brand new furnace offers many advantages

 

Improved efficiency

Greater energy efficiency translates to lower operating costs and long-term savings.

Smaller size

Newer models are often smaller because they can heat more gradually and more efficiently.

Quieter operation

Insulated components and variable‑speed operation mean a more peaceful home.

Improved comfort

Newer systems do a better job of circulating warm air and maintaining a constant temperature.

Greater reliability

New units require fewer repairs and lower your risk of needing an emergency replacement.

Better for the environment

Reduce your home’s carbon footprint by burning less fuel and using less energy.

Smart compatibility

A smart thermostat is your furnace’s best friend and can reduce energy costs up to 15%.

Healthier choice

Because it circulates and filters air consistently, a new furnace can be better for indoor air quality.

 

Depending on the fuel type, ENERGY STAR certified furnaces are 6% to 15% more efficient than standard models.

Learn more

When to repair or replace?

 

Your furnace is on the fritz...again

Will another repair extend its lifespan? Or is the smarter option to replace it?
Here are some tips to help you decide:

 
 

Repair

Your furnace is new to “middle aged” – around 7 or 8 years old – and runs smoothly most of the time.

Your furnace rarely needs repairs, and when it does, they’re covered under warranty.

The repairs are common problems, like clogged drain lines, a broken limit switch or faulty ignition.

The cost of repairs is a fraction of what a new furnace costs – below 50%.

Replace

Your furnace is more than 15 years old, and in need of regular repairs.

Repairs are frequent and costly. A furnace typically needs the most repairs in the last two years of its usable life.

Your energy consumption is rising for unexplained reasons. Furnaces lose efficiency as they age, making them run longer to provide the same amount of heat.

The cost of repairs is 50% or more than the cost of a new high-efficiency unit.

 
 

5 telltale signs it may be time to upgrade

1

Higher-than-normal bills

2

Frequent furnace repairs

3

Uneven hot or cold spots

4

Unusual smells or sounds

5

Very dry or dusty air

Pro-tip:

Clean your filters monthly and replace them regularly to keep the air flowing efficiently – typically every three months. Check your owner’s manual.

Get $250* back when you work with an approved contractor to upgrade to a new high-efficiency furnace with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM).
What’s an ECM motor, and how does it work? Read more.

See all rebates

Stay warm while keeping costs under control with our handy home heating guide. We’ve got tips on how to tune up your system, what to look for when choosing a contractor, rebates on high-efficiency heating and more.

Go to the guide