Hey guys,

Cool forum. I did a search but couldn't find a real good answer to my questions. Here's my story. About 8 years ago I bought an old (1918) farmhouse (2100 sf 2-story) in southern Indiana. It had a 1960 vintage furnace in it that I replaced after the 1st winter with an 80+ 125,000 unit. I did not swap the a-coil out. The previous owner had replaced it and the compressor unit right before we bought the house. I think it's 4 tons.

Since then, I've done some insulating in the attic, and replaced some of the windows. The furnace has never had any problem keeping up, even when we hit 20 below last year (extremely rare in this area).

I have 2 issues with my system:

1. Energy has gotten more expensive and I'm kicking myself for not buying a higher quality system.

2. This thing is LOUD. I mean it's FRICKING LOUD!!! When the blower kicks on, I have to turn up the volume on the TV. I have to talk louder. It's really annoying.

So...seems like I would be an ideal candiate for a 92+ furnace with a 2-speed or variable speed blower. My questions, though, are these:

1. Looks like the variable speed blower costs about $400 more. If I understand what I've read, it actually only operates on 2-speeds anyway...it just senses the "proper" speed to run at for high or low operation. Is that worth $400?

2. The variable speed furnace I'm looking at (a Heil model) also includes a 2-speed draft fan vs the standard single speed. Does that make it worth the extra money especially considering I want something quiet. For reference I can clearly hear my draft motor on my LOUD 80+ fire up now.

3. Zoning a possibility? The bedrooms in my house are upstairs, the living area is downstairs (as is the thermostat). It's always a bit too warm upstairs and a bit too cool downstairs UNLESS I kick on our ventless logs in the family room (where the thermostat for the furnace is). THEN the furnace basically locks out because it gets so warm in that room and it's FREEZING upstairs by the time we go to bed. If down the road I went to zoning, THEN would the variable speed blower be a Godsend?

4. Should I DOWNSIZE the furnace from 125,000 to 100,000 based on the increase in efficiency? There is very little price difference.

5. Am I nuts to be considering replacing only the furnace and not the AC unit? Cinergy increased are power rates by about 10% last year. I guess I'm in the 7-cent a KWH range now. The compressor is at least 10 years old and actually predates the furnace I'm going to take out.

Sorry this got so long. Any thoughtful advice would be mucho appreciated.