I have several questions concerning the bids I got to replace our 27 year-old funace/ac. This is a pretty difficult task since these units are still operating.
First, let me say I asked as many people as I know for references on installers, and have confidence in all the installers.
House specs to keep in mind. 2600 sq. ft. 600 in the basement. Tri-level construction with 3 bedrooms upstars. A fireplace on the middle level that we still use in the winter mainly because that room (family room) is soo cold.
1) should I replace now or wait until they completely fail!!
2) I want to put in a 2-stage, variable speed unit because the tri-level is a bugger to keep warm everywhere, but I'm not sure about the high efficiency units.. The install cost is is quite different. Our winters are pretty mild. Maybe 10 days are cold, <20F all day. I'm leaning toward the 80%.. Should I look harder at the 90+% units?
So far I have quotes from Trane (2), Bryant, Lennox. Tomorrow I have a Rheem dealer giving me a quote. What are the differences in these furnaces?
Also is the VS option worth the price tag?
3) Is it necessary as one of the contractors has mentioned to have a 2-stage thermostat? I currently have a digital/programmable thermostat. Should I replace it with a special thermostat for the 2-stage VS unit?
4) I'm trying to stay in a budget. We use the AC maybe 30 days a year. Should I replace the AC? The city is offering a $300 Rebate for 13-seer and better.
Should this be a consideration given my usage?
4a) If so, should I match the systems? The reason I ask is one of the bids offered a 13-seer system for about $800 less than just about everyone (evem for the same unit), but it is an R-22 Goodman model that from what I can tell is going to go away next model year. It would be installed with a lennox funace. The matched brands are quite a bit more adding more cost to the job (note the next question about tonnage).
4b) All of the contractors have done load calculations and I let them take their time. Some recommend 2.5 Tons and others 3 Tons for the AC. What are the potential pit falls? Note I have no west windows!
4c) One contractor was going to up the size of the coil to 3 ton and us a 2.5 ton unit? What are the pitfalls?
My take on all of what I have read is that the VS is worth the money, and that I should get the most efficient (highest Seer) A/C for the $. Am I off base on this?
I'm open to any comments.
Also, It seems that all the equiptment (furnace and A/C) is very good if it is installed properly. My problem is that I have a low bid for a 80% 2-stage VS, w/humidifier matched with another brand 2.5 ton/3 ton coil. The other bids with comparable, though matched equiptment are considerably more. Should this low bid be questioned? How? What corners could have been cut to make the bid considerably lower? What are the right questions to ask?
[Edited by fortfun on 06-08-2005 at 12:44 AM]