I'm new here so I will try hard not to break any rules in posting.
We have a 1 story 1600 sq ft. house that we are looking to replace the 35 year old furnace and 12+ year old A/C. We are also having the furnace moved from the garage into a more central area in the attic, with the intake being moved into the hall near the furnace.
We've narrowed it down to a couple of companies that feel comfortable with. But here is our delima, we are trying to choose between an 18 SEER 2-stage unit or a 16 SEER single stage. We live in Southern California near the Mojave Desert, so our weather tends to be hot and very dry in the summer and mild winters. The variable blower furnace is a definate, but I'm just not sure if the $1300+ difference in the 18 SEER is worth it in the long run. We plan on being in the house a long time and don't mind getting the 2-stage if it makes financial sense but don't want to blow money on something that doesn't really pay back dividends. Especially if we could take the $$$ and put it in attic insulation or a couple more dual pane windows.
Also, it seems that most people who love a 2-stage live in humid climates. I guess the 2 stage helps to run longer and dehumidify the air. Humidity isn't really a problem where we live. Any advice is greatly appreciated.