Just started to do my preliminay research, and came across your informative, and sometimes entertaining group....
I live in a Townhouse in NJ, and currently both my furnace and a/c are running, as they have been for 16+ years.
However, I just installed a small patio next to my deck, which my wife and I are trying to enjoy. Unfortunately, every time the compressor kicks on, we have to interupt our conversation for a few minutes until it completes its cycle....as it's very loud. I've decided to consider a new unit (quieter), and obviously would want to consider better efficiency as a primary goal. Although I don't like to spend $$ needlessly, I will spend it to make an improvment, even if the unit isn't yet broken. My current setup hasn't been touched since it was installed in 1989.
Heat: York P3UGD12N008001A (80,000 BTU)
A/C: York M2UF032AA (2ton -- I think)
1) Has the efficiency improved over my current 16 y/o units, to give a possible 20% better efficiency in electricity/gas (trying to get 5yr. ROI)?
2) Given my location (NW/NJ), is a variable rate or 2-stage system an advantage? Note that we both work from home, so a consistent temperature is desireable, as we don't have the energy peaks associated with 9-5 couples.
Any thoughts, experiences or ballpark assumptions are greatly appreciated.