First, I wish to give you all my thanks! I Googled into this forum last night and spent several hours going through many great posts – and some very funny ones as well. You all saved me a whole lot of money and gave me the knowledge to ask contractors the right questions.
This all started with the need to replace the air handler on my 15 year old Carrier heat pump system that finally had a debilitating stroke – poorly maintained and annually pumped up on R22 steroids by a local quack while it was suffering some major arterial bleeding with no good doctor to look after it. I shudder to think what my ozone footprint has been over the last four years living in this house! When it failed last week, I was fortunate enough to have a real pro take a look at it. There was nary a trace of Freon left in my old friend. The evap coils were leaking so badly it drained the batteries in his sniffer within 30 seconds. With skill of a surgeon, the tech was able to open the heat pump enclosure without it falling to pieces given all the rust and corrosion my lonely sentinel of cool had acquired. Yet another set of batteries were required for the sniffer outside. My quest had begun and so I started to try to get a little smarter (though I had not yet found you folks!)
Being an engineer by profession, I was getting randy with all the manufacturer’s data tables and graphs. Like so many, I was going fat, dumb and happy down the SEER stream without a paddle. The good tech’s manager listened quietly as I proudly rattled off “two stage scroll”, the higher the SEER the better, variable speed blower, yada yada, yada. He quietly listened to my dribble and when I was through told me he thought I was making a mistake. Sure, if I wanted it, he would sell me a 16 or 20 something SEER unit with bells and whistles that would make the local symphony green with envy. But, I would be wasting my money. I listened to this guy and thought he was a nut. Plus, he sold the dreaded “Good Man” and “Am Ana” lines.
The next day I contacted a “reputable” dealer and their sales person came out and without me saying a word – or him even coming inside the house to look in the attic - said I needed a 20 something SEER unit, high end blower, new this, new that, etc. (I am thinking he is on to something here…some type of telepathic skill at knowing how to instantly perform complex cost/trade off analysis on all the various units and my home’s needs – a new nanotechnology embedded Ouija board perhaps?). (As an aside, the gentleman spent more time telling me about the great pads that they were using than about what I was really spending my money on – should I have seen this as a bit of a clue?) Well, I thought, wow, I knew this guy was good!! Little did I realize that if I listened to him, I would also need to double the diameter of all sewer lines in the house to accommodate the poop he was spewing.
So, just to make sure this human methane plant and I were right, I did some more Googling. I happened to stumble across some interesting articles from some of the CA utility firms (more graphs yippy!). But, they seemed to sort of agree with the good Tech’s nutty manager. Their position was that SEER and EER are not effective metrics for the real world. Say what?!? Then, I found this forum. You said, look at EER in TX, not SEER. I went back to the manufacturer’s charts and graphs. Interesting…in a lot of comparisons, while the SEER numbers went up smartly, there was much less delta in EER. More money for nothing in the armpit of TX?
Well, to make a very long story a tad shorter. I closed the deal today with the company that employees the nut who tries to tell idiot consumers like me that I am wasting my money! No, I did not get a two-stage heat pump (I won’t live long enough to get the payback). Yes, I did go to a 14 SEER unit (mainly because the 13 SEER still used R22). Yes, I did go with the variable speed blower for comfort, not efficiency gains. Yes, I do believe this nut’s Tech’s are well trained and so I stand a much better chance at achieving something closer to stated efficiencies. And thanks to you guys, I saved more than some pocket change not going with the 21 SEER unit with it’s marvelous pad that would have a payback in 2303! Oh yes, I did go with one of those crappy “Am Ana” units – what the hell! You only live once!
Footnote – Yes, it’s 3:15am but too hot to sleep tonight! Relief comes tomorrow morning!