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  1. #14
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Houston Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by h-town humidity View Post
    We received a quote from one contractor today who believes that even the 16 seer would be overkill. He reccomends a 13 seer, with three units, a 2.5, a 3 and a 4 ton unit (calculated with J Manual).

    I asked about the 90% furnace as opposed to the 80, and he did not think it would be worth it.

    He also thought we would not have any savings for moving up to the 16 seer, the higher efficiency furnace, or single room zoning.

    Lastly, we talked about the Trane "clean effects" vs a media filter. Do any of you have any thoughts about whether the media filter would be adequate, or is the Trane or some other clean air system really worth the money.

    Thank you for any replies.
    I can't begin to tell you how wrong this person is. A sixteen SEER unit will save considerable money over a 13 SEER and will provide a much more comfortable drier home at a much higher temperature. Zoning can save energy and will definitely increase comfort and control. Many especially those that primarily install in new homes are not that well versed in new or more complicated technologies. Their primary interest is to get in and get out in the least time using the least labor and materials possible. The RNC market has a different mindset than those that are more focused on retro fit work.

    Installing 16 SEER equipment may not be the right option since it will be 2-stage but 14 or 15 SEER should definitely be considered. All 13 SEER equipment is builder’s grade and will have minimal warranties few if any safeties. The higher quality 14 or 15 SEER units are without a doubt worth the extra money just for the quality of the product.

    As to the Clean Effects or any electronic filter system, they all have benefits over standard media filters. The question is do you need them; most benefit of filtration is for the equipment. It will keep the equipment cleaner which will increase equipment life and efficiency. If your family has serious allergy problems then the more expensive electronic filter could be beneficial but for most people a regular extended media filter is more than sufficient.

    I do agree that there is no reason in Houston to spend the money for a 90% furnace over an 80% but it is definitely worth spending extra money on a variable speed furnace.

    I am curious what company you have a quote from and have you checked their references. Were they recommended by your builder or are you going the owner builder route.

  2. #15


    Thanks for the post. This is a contractor the builder has used in other jobs, but I am on a cost-plus arrangemetn so I have some flexibility.

    Why would a 2 stage not be desireable here? We have 3 seperate unites for different parts of the house, but I figured a 2 stage could run longer at low speeds at lower costs and help clean the air as well. We only set our house at 78-79 now even in summer, so I venture to guess we don't use our AC as much as others.

    i do want to work on the humidity, and that is an important factor as well.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Houston Texas
    I think you misunderstood 2-stage is very desirable in Houston. I w as referring to your comment that the contractor said 13 SEER was all you needed. Most units rated 16 SEER or above are two-stage.

    A 2-stage unit when installed properly will provide superior humidity control over a single stage unit. They also allow for slight system over sizing with out determent to comfort or efficiency. Slight over sizing is helpful if you are going to entertain.

    I have found for most people with homes the size of yours a combination of single and two-stage units is the best combination. Here again you need to evaluate with your contractor your lifestyle and what your expectations are for the systems.

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    In Houston you are not a SEER market, you are an EER market... Do your homework. The XL19i has some EER's down in the 10's.

    Me thinks you can do better.

  5. #18


    Sorry, I am not sure what the difference is, and most contractors I have spoken to only refer to seer. They did say that a heat pump was not a good idea for Houston, because the AC will be more efficient and gas heat will be cheaper as well.

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    I would definitely go with 2 stage outdoor unit and Variable Speed indoor blower.

    Whether a heat pump or gas furnace would be better depends on your climate and utility rates, but I would lean toward a heat pump. Of course I have never lived in Houston, so that may be BS.

    I can see no reason to go 13 SEER unless you have VERY LOW utility rates.

    Good luck.
    Remember, Air Conditioning begins with AIR.

  7. #20
    Join Date
    May 2004
    south louisiana
    I think you should shop for your own hvac contractor.

    The builder works with his hvac company often, and is purchasing
    what is known as a builder's grade or entry level hvac system.

    This is why you are getting a multisystem install.
    If you compare the cost of zoned system against the cost of multiple unit installs
    you will get a better average of costs. I find they come out pretty close.
    Even for the few extra dollars you will spend for the zoned system the comfort will
    be well worth it.

    I also second the vairiable speed system, and in my hot humid climates we do a lot
    of heatpumps. I perfer gas if it is available, and yeah I admit it...the 90+ furnace.
    In my area gas prices are higher than electric, but go 200 miles in any direction from here & it changes.

    13 SEER is the least efficient hvac system that you can purchase. (see builder's grade)
    As you can expect your hvac system to last for 15 to 20 years I would shop as wisely for it as for the other items of importance to you in your new home.

    In 2007 the minimum SEER was raised from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. This is why your builder is saying that this is all you is the minimum.

    Use your cost plus for upgrades like Radiant barrier roof decking (techshield..solarply)
    R-38 attic insulation, windows with Ufactors & Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (shgc)
    of less than .35 R-15 insulation in 2x4 walls and use a 1" foil faced sheating board to the exterior of walls. Ait tight drywall approach for walls and Insulation Contact Air Tight
    recessed lights (ICAT)
    These things can not be as easily upgraded later or at as less of a cost as now, and will
    make your home easier to heat & cool as the home will be tighter.

    Make sure that your hvac contractor mastic seals your ductwork, and check for quality control on flashing details for windows, doors & roofs.

    There is a great book called Builder's Guide to Hot Humid Climates by Joe Lstiburek
    it would be a great asset to you in your build.

    Best of luck with your build.
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

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