@RyanHughes, I cannot access your profile. I appear to have "insufficient privileges"
Email addresses aren't allowed in open posts, but if you edit your profile to include yours I would be happy to refer you to someone. I'm also in Montgomery County, so I'm familiar with many of the companies that serve the area.
OK, dumb question here but it isn't easy to google--right now we have a filter that goes into the air handler. Is this replaced by a media filter cabinet or supplemented by it? And what advantage does the media filter cabinet give? (note: we have airborne allergies--will this improve that?)
Our current contractor's price on the base model--their lowest, they said--is simply unaffordable for us. We can't do it. And considering they are charging ~ 1.3 times as much as the next most expensive contractor (for a base model) I see no reason to consider them anymore. Seriously. Their work has been acceptable but not awesome.
Also their guy did not look at anything but the current unit and our circuit box. Didn't even ask about the vents in the rest of the house. I think if I had to do it again I would explain to him the peculiarity of how we use our vents and the fact that we only have 1 (closed off) vent in our finished-ish basement...will do that with the next batch and email the others.
Just an update...got one more contractor to come out and give a proposal. I feel more confident about this one as he really made an effort to look at our house's specific needs. He and the company came recommended, and the company has excellent reviews (and a lot of them) on Angie's list.
3B. - base model - 14.5 SEER TraneXB13- 2.5 ton Condenser (Climatuff compressor) #T4TWB3030C1000A
w Trane Hyperion (variable speed) Air Handler#TAM7A0B30H21SB
Both at a reasonable price, although of course 3A is more.
We are probably going to go with 3B. This contractor also proposes adding a new vent return for better air flow (which has been a problem in our house) and will put a heating vent into my home office (which needs it horribly as currently I use an electric heater in there; I started using a basement room as a home office in 2011) for a small additional cost. I am hoping that going from an (estimated) 5-7 SEER to a 14.5 SEER unit will save some noticeable money on our electric bill as well (if not exactly pay for itself).
There is a 10-year Trane extended labor warranty offered at, let's say about 10% of the system price; is this worth getting?