I am replacing an old split system with a 13 or so SEER Heat Pump and a 80% gas furnace. Having read through Jim Davis' thoughts on variable speed vs two-stage that was a long running thread through 12/16/04, I am pretty confused.
I live in the Midwest with hot, humid summers and moderate winters. Since the gas furnace will serve as my backup heat, I presume I don't need all the bells and whistles. I am interested in worthwhile features on the heat pump such as two-stage, two speed or variable speed, etc., as long as they don't significantly increase the price. I suspect two-stage/two-speed adds a small price-increase but variable adds a large increase? I anticipate staying in the house for another five years or so, although longer is possible.
I could use some confirmation that I don't want builder's grade and I don't want the top of the line - I'm presuming middle of the manufacturer's line is the best balance of cost & performance.
What features need to be matched between the two units, i.e., if the heat pump is two-stage, then does the furnace need to be two-stage, etc.? What features are worth paying extra for, i.e., R410A, two-level scroll compressors, etc.?
Lastly, probably everybody's favorite topic - which brands do you recommend and which should I stay away from? Lennox & Trane seem widely used in my area. I know Goodman is held in low esteem by some, and a major consumer magazine survey gave them low marks for reliability, but I see that has pushed them into offering a much better warranty than anybody else.
The survey also shows Lennox and Amana as somewhat worse in reliability than say American Standard & Trane (same manufacturer) and Rheem and Ruud (same manufacturer), but not greatly different. Amana's warranty seems second only to the Goodman (same manufacturer). Although Amana is owned by Goodman, is it considered a much better brand?
Thank you in advance for your help on this issue.
Let me add that my natural gas is $8.444/Mcf and electricity is 4.3 cents/kWh winter and 7.36 cents summer. Would an electric strip or the gas make a better heat pump backup? Thanks.
[Edited by scouts22 on 05-08-2005 at 03:31 PM]