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  1. #1

    Should I upgrade?

    New construction in Philadelphia area. The builder is providing the following in a 2600 square foot home:

    * 2 American Standard high efficiency (90 AFUE/60 MBTU) gas forced air
    * 2 American Standard 2 & 3 ton 13 SEER air conditioning units
    * 2 thermostats

    There are a number of upgrades available such as Accuechange energy recovery ventilator, humidifiers, upgraded SEER A/C, multispeed furnance, variable speed furnace, you name it.

    Would you consider any upgrades and if so what?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    If the house is reasonably tight, you shouldn't need a humidifier.
    But with the size of furnaces, and A/C's it may not be very tight.
    Up grade to the VS furnaces.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Indianapolis, IN, USA
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    Well, 1st warning is often these upgrades are very pricey. See what's affordable.

    For comfort and some energy savings, upgrading to the XV95 2 stage furnaces are nice to get the 2 stage comfort and the energy savings of the variable speed blower. The 3 stage is the ultimate but those are very salty even without a high markup.

    Could be some heating bill savings upgrading the A/Cs to heat pumps. Beenthere or one of your other neighbors might be able to advise on that.

    Only need humidifiers if they build the house poorly. If they build it very tight, could need a recovery ventilator though that can be done later too. I'm not high on the electronic air cleaners but a good media cleaner might be nice.

    Gees, didn't even notice 150K 90s and 5 tons of air for 2600 sq ft. Seems outrageous!

  4. #4
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    Their only 120,000, and 5 tons. LOL.
    Thats why I said they may not be building his house very tight.
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  5. #5
    I believe that the house is being built well and tight. The builder is a small local one that seems to care about his reputation. In addition, all of the exterior 2x4 are caulked and the insulation is blown in fiberglass.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    5 tons is a lot of cooling for a new 2600 sq. ft. home in Philly (or at least it would be in Maryland for a new house, and I can't imagine Philly is much different). Who did a load calc to determine sizing (if anyone)? As BL said, upgrades with RNC are not typically cheap, so you'll have to see what the prices are (but don't post them here ). A muli-stage, variable-speed furnace would be nice (you should get a 2-stage thermostat with it) and would give you comfort and efficiency, and so would a 14/15 SEER air conditioner, or even heat pump for dual fuel (4A7A4 and 4A6H4 are the 14 SEER models; 4A7A5 or 4A6H5 are the 15 SEER models). For a tight house, the ERV might not be a bad idea to introduce fresh makeup air from outside. I'd also think about a good media air cleaner for each system, as BL said.

  7. #7
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    Around here, 4 tons would more then handle it. I'm only 50 to 60 miles west of you.
    Ask to see the load calcs.

    Heat pump upgrade would be worth investing in. 14 SEER.
    In 2010 we're taking a minimumn hit of a 30% hike in electric rate. that puts me at $0.135 per KWH.
    Thats going to mean a good hike in my summer cooling bill.
    Not sure of your rates in the philly area, but keep that rate hike in mind.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAVH 6 View Post
    I believe that the house is being built well and tight. The builder is a small local one that seems to care about his reputation. In addition, all of the exterior 2x4 are caulked and the insulation is blown in fiberglass.
    If it's going to be "very tight", consider fresh air ventilation and the energy recovery ventilator. That, or breathe the same indoor air over, and over, and over.

    As for a humidifier, a gas furnace plus heat pump (dual fuel) ended up making for a very dry house for me in late Winter/early Spring. Adding a bypass humidifier made all the difference- bringing humidity from 35 to 37% right up to whatever the setting on the humidifier was (usually 45% except when experimenting). The additional cost was quite modest.

    Grossly oversized systems are very common in my area (central Maryland) where there are lots of custom and one-off type houses. The builders like them and so do the energy companies. The mistakes they make, homeowners pay for year after year after year, multiplied by every rate hike and price increase that comes along.

    Of all the decisions you have to make, the most important one is that one not presented to you- choosing the right size of HVAC. Pay a few bucks and have a Manual J and Manual D done for your new house. You will save many thousands each decade afterwards.

    -HF

  9. #9
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    I was adding 90 AFUE and 60K

    OK, 120K still seems high for decently built RNC this side of the north pole.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post
    I was adding 90 AFUE and 60K

    OK, 120K still seems high for decently built RNC this side of the north pole.
    Kinda thought you did something like that.
    But, yea thats big for 2600 sq ft new construction.
    Thats over 40 BTUs per sq ft for heating, and looks like they went with 500 sq ft per ton. Rule of thumb bull.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post
    I was adding 90 AFUE and 60K

    OK, 120K still seems high for decently built RNC this side of the north pole.
    I'm across the river in Jersey, and my 2500 SF house needs 60,000.

    AM

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