By the grace of God I found this web site and its forum before I plunked down a couple grand on anything!
My wife and I bought a home about 2 years ago. Knew the furnace was reeeeeeally old and inefficient, but couldn't finagle getting a new one as part of the contract. Now we're getting ready to start a family and I'd prefer to get this done and out of the way while we're both still working full-time and our only "kid" is our bullmastiff.
We live in Columbus, O-hi-o, which has a relatively short summer (highs in the 90's for a month, month and a half) and can be rather chilly (in the teens) in the winter. Our house is about 50 years old and 2200sq ft, brick exterior, double-plaster wall interior, and new double-pane vinyl windows so not drafty. Once the house gets hot, it pretty much stays there without too much fluctuation; in the summer it can heat up easily when the bricks bake all day in the sun, so the AC has its work cut out for it. We have two fireplaces we use a couple times a week in the winter and an attic fan for spring and fall. The fireplace chimneys are central to the house (we have a circular floorplan,) and run alongside the furnace flue. Our gas hot water heater vents out the furnace flue.
The current furnace is a 120,000 BTU Dunham & Bush belt-drive installed in 1971 (!) and the A/C is a 3 ton Bryant installed in 1991. Energy bills are outrageous.... $360 peak gas bill this past winter (thermostat set to 68), and IIRC about $270 peak electric bill last summer (thermostat set to 75.) No problem keeping the place hot once it gets that way, but airflow to the 2nd floor with the AC on is pitiful at best.
We got a bunch of estimates, ranging from XXXXXXXXXX to replace everything. Most were pushing 80% 100,000 BTU 2-stage variable-speed furnaces with 13 or 14-seer 3-ton AC. All said I needed a chimney liner. Some were pushing for "sealed combustion". Brands quoted were Carrier, Lennox, and Armstrong on the high end, TempStar and Rheem in the middle, and Weatherking & Concord on the low end. Money-wise, with the other home-improvement things I need to get done, I'll be scraping to hit the $XXXXXXXXXX mark.
Then a guy a work with gave me the number of a family friend who has his own HVAC business. Called him and he told me a lot of stuff, like the fact that I don't need a chimney liner (since the chimney stack is central and the water heater vents out the same flue); that a 12 seer AC would be fine because of the short summers; that he would never install a variable-speed furnace but instead a 2 or 3-speed one because they're cheaper to repair and the variable speed is just a bunch of marketing fluff; and that the people telling me that my existing furnace was only 40% efficient and that they could cut my gas bills in half were exaggerating. He also said he installs nothing but Goodman and Amana (which I know Goodman is a hot-button issue around here) and has done so for himself, his family, and friends. I'm inclined to believe him, since he's the family friend of a co-worker, but I've received so much conflicting information from people trying to make a buck (or several thousand) from me, I don't know who to believe anymore.
So I'm hoping that since you fine folks are not trying to sell me anything, but instead are giving me your opinions, I'll get more honest answers.
So, with all that said, here are my questions:
1. Between Weatherking, Concord, and Goodman, which brand has better new models?
2. Do I need a chimney liner?
3. Do I need sealed combustion?
4. 12 seer or higher?
5. 100,000 BTU? 120,000? 80,000?
6. Variable-speed or 2-speed/3-speed?
7. Any other advice?
Thanks one and all!
Please read the Forum Rules before continuing to post. You must not use pricing.
[Edited by lusker on 06-30-2005 at 07:13 PM]