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ericbro 10-01-2010 09:41 AM

Please help me decide...
I live in Nashville, TN. Electricity is $0.085/KWH. Gas is approx $1.55/CCF.

For my 2,400 sq ft 1st floor, I currently have a 13 year old 95% efficiency Carrier gas furnace with a 13 year old 12 SEER A/C. Either the fan motor or the fan motor module in the furnace has died. Replacing the module is $400 and replacing the motor is $1200 (because you have to buy both parts to replace the motor). I also have a slow freon leak in my A/C (first noticed with this past season's checkup).

In our conversation with our contractor, we probably suggested that it might be time to replace both units with more efficient units (we didn't know our furnace was already 95%) given the tax credit that's available until year-end. My wife is partial to gas heat (she likes the warmth of the registers). He came back to us with two thoughts.

One was a 95% modulating furnace with a 2-stage 16.5 SEER A/C. I'm assuming he was suggesting Carrier's Infinity product line for $10,500.

The other suggestion was a hybrid heat pump system, 2-stage 16 SEER with a 95% efficiency modulating gas auxiliary heat module for $11,100. Again, I think he was talking about the Infinity product line. He seemed to prefer this heat pump suggestion for its cost efficiency.

We talked to another contractor who was not as high on heat pumps because the compressors run virtually year-round and won't last as long as a furnace-A/C system. Then, after talking to his technician, he said that we should probably get 20 years out of our current furnace, so we should just repair it (even at $1200).

1. Is that true? Should we get 20 years out of the furnace?
2. If that is true, our inclination is to fix the furnace (since we wouldn't pick up any efficiency by replacing it), then see what it would cost to replace the A/C with a more efficient unit. Does that make sense given the availability of the tax credit? Can we get the tax credit if we replace the A/C only?How do we calculate the potential savings of going from a 12 SEER A/C to a 16 SEER?
3. If we really should go ahead and replace the furnace, do you suggest the furnace-A/C option, or the hybrid heat pump? Is a current-model 95% efficiency furnace better than a 13 year old version at the same efficiency rating?

brandonmcginnis 10-01-2010 08:49 PM

If you replace it all get a dual fuel. You can always lock out the heat pump and run straight gas. You will still get the tax credit just changing to a higher SEER AC. You could also add a heat pump to your existing furnace. A 12 SEER is 20% more efficient than a 10 SEER, a 16 SEER is 60% more effecient than a 10 SEER.

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