First off thanks for taking the time to read this post, I've found this forum very educational thus far but decided I needed to post my current situation to get some feed back. I bought my first place 5 years ago and now it's time to replace the furnace and central air until. I've had my furnace/compressor cleaned/checked every year since I moved in and unfortunately this year the repairman told me it looked like the flames on my furnace were flowing to a right a bit and it looked like there may be a crack in my heat exchanger. He told me to start saving for a furnace(and may as well replace the a/c at the same) because this would be the last winter for the furnace. The furnace is a bryant unit from 1986 and the central air until is a carrier also from 1986, the year the house was built.
My home is a two story duplex with a shared common wall, about 1400 square feet on a concrete slab. The furnace sits in a utility closet with the hot water heater and a stack able washer/dryer on the first floor. I put in a 12yr Richmond water heater and new washer/dryer in 2009. During the winter the downstairs stays cooler than the upstairs(presumably because of the concrete slab) and in the summer the upstairs is very warm. In fact, it's so warm that I have to close the vents downstairs during the night when it's 90+ to get the upstairs cool. Of course this doesn't satisfy the temperature downstairs so sometimes the until will run for 8-10 hours before it finally gets right. Last year I put in all new energy efficient windows/doors with argon low e glass and that seemed to help big team heating the house but cooling is still a pain. I live in the western suburbs of chicago. My home value has taken a beating in price since i bought in 2008 so i'm planning on holding for probably 8-10 years, either living here or renting out until I can sell it to get my money back.
I've done a ton of research and have gotten about 10 different quotes from different companies in the area. Here are my questions:
1). Should I go 90-95 percent energy efficient with a 1400 square feet home? Some only want to quote me 90%+ but a couple, that i feel are the most honest have told me not to even look at them as I'll only recoup the cost in 12-14 years since my house is so small. Since i only plan on holding it 8-10 years they say it shouldn't be an option and just go 80%. I'm also looking 13seer compressor or 14seer if I go with the goodman since the 14seer has a lifetime warranty on the compressor.
2). It seems like all the big players in the area absolutely despise goodman. Right off the bat they started bad mouthing goodman and saying why their brand(carrier, trane, lennox, etc) are so much better than goodman. I've had quotes ranging from $ to $. The $ quotes are lennox or rhem 80% units with a 13 seer compressor. These units come with a 10yr warranty on the furnace and compressor. The $ quotes are trane 90% furnace with a 13 seer compressor with a 20yr on the furnace and I believe it was 20 on the compressor, I don't care to remember because $ is just way more than i'm willing to spend. My uncle told me to consider Goodman because they have come a very long way. I looked into the goodman units and i'm considering the following models, Goodman GMH80603AN furnace with a LIFETIME warranty on the heat exchanger and Goodman SSX140241 compressor with a LIFETIME warranty on the compressor. I found small mom and pop shop that many of my friends and family have used and he said the goodman units have come a long way and the two stage furnaces are pretty darn good for the cost. He thinks that i'm getting the best bang for my buck by going this route. He told me that the american standard is a better unit, but if i'm not planning on living here the rest of my life or holding onto it for 20 years then this is the most cost effective way to go. What do you guys think about this? Is that goodman combo worth it, or spending $ more on a lennox or rheme unit with a lower warranty a better option? I just don't see how goodman can be so crappy but yet they have the best warranty out there.
I don't want to get into a brand war, I'm fairly new to all of this. I believe each brand has it's pros/cons, and since this isn't the house i'm going to retire in I want to do the most cost effective solution. Do I believe that in the long run are trane/american standard a better unit, absolutely, but will the goodman be the most cost effective solution that will give me 10-15 year headache free time frame.
Thanks for the time to read this and the replies.