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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had to have the igniting element on my furnace replaced today. Just normal wear... I could see that myself when he showed it to me. The furnace is +- 10 years old, maybe only 8 or 9. Anyway... $213.00 later I have heat again. Good thing... our temps are going to return to the freezing levels tonight.

The service guy, of course, mentioned they could add air conditioning to the existing unit. Pretty simple job as he described it. All the overhead duct work is in place, of course, so it's a matter of adding the a/c "box" on top of my unit (York) and routing the copper coils to wherever I wanted them routed. He gave me a very rough figure of around $3500 and upward for that job.

Now, I'm wondering if it would be prudent to add a/c to an aging heating system or if it wouldn't be better to wait another couple of years, spend a couple thousand more and install an entirely new (probably even more energy efficient) system for both at the same time. I wish the previous owner had done that when she bought the new furnace and had the overhead duct work done but I think that was all she could afford at the time.

Thoughts?

P.S. The guy has a chocolate lab so he was very in tune with Seamus and Flynn (and all the rest for that matter.)
 

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Oooh, I love central air conditioning but I think you are wise to consider waiting until the heater itself needs to be replaced unless, if you had it done now, could the a/c box that you buy now be added to a new furnace down the road when you would need a new furnace?
 

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With an 8- to 9-y.o. furnace, I'd wait and do the entire thing @ once.
 

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I agree with the others -- wait. Energy efficiency is going up all the time. There curretly are some Fed tax credits but there may well be some better ones later.

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay... you guys think like I do. Fortunately, Wooserie House stays pretty darned comfortable in the warm months even running only the little bedroom window a/c unit. I hate running the mammoth thing we have in the living room, mostly because it is SO LOUD! It does do an efficient job of cooling the entire house in the terrible August heat and humidity but DANG! Tudor and I came to realize that from the end of July until the first of September we would never be able to carry on a conversation in that room with the a/c on. It sucked.

Thanks for your input. It is reassuring.
 

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As already said, wait until it's time to replace the furnace. The new ones are so much more efficient than even an 8 or 10 year old unit, so you may as well take advantage of that.
 

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I hate running the mammoth thing we have in the living room, mostly because it is SO LOUD! It does do an efficient job of cooling the entire house in the terrible August heat and humidity but DANG! Tudor and I came to realize that from the end of July until the first of September we would never be able to carry on a conversation in that room with the a/c on. It sucked.
Then why not get a much higher efficiency quieter unit to replace it? I bet it has an EER of about 5 while new units use half that electricity and are much quieter.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Bob - I bought that unit 5 years ago. It will do for now. I don't want to spend another 500-800 on a window unit with the plan of installing central in the next couple of years. See? And now that it's just me and the dogs and Hope, the conversation aspect is kind of a moot point. Or mute point.
 

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Another wait here, Nance! Especially since
Fortunately, Wooserie House stays pretty darned comfortable in the warm months even running only the little bedroom window a/c unit.
Not to mention $3500!
 

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Sorry, I'm late, but I'd also wait or like Nancy said, see if you can buy a unit that could be added to a new furnace later.
 

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Here comes an opposing viewpoint.

A/C unit and the Furnace are totally separable. Yep! You might get a better deal buying both at the same time.
7-9, maybe 10 year old furnace, and you think you may have to replace it in a couple years? A furnace should go 20 years plus, we replaced our original furnace at 25 years. I guess it depends on how big a couple is?

Central A/C Compressor is outside the house, two copper tubes run inside to the evaporator coil that sits in the plenum on top of the furnace. Two totally separate system bolted together, and either can be replaced independent of the other.

Yep! Everything will get more efficient over time, is your comfort worth the wait?

Rebates will maybe get bettter, hmmmm! And where is that money going to come from? My bet is taxes are going up, rebates are going away, and energy cost is going to be absurd.

Okay! I'm done.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ed! Thank you for that! I just had the feeling I was missing something somewhere. No, I don't think the furnace will need replacing in a couple of years. I kind of thought they should have the sort of life span you are talking about. I also wondered about the a/c compressor. That big thing that sits outside. He didn't mention that and I didn't bring it up. But I did wonder. I didn't think about the a/c being sort of independent from the heating system.

Don't misunderstand. The house is very comfortable year 'round and I am a real Scrooge when it comes to running the heat and air until absolutely necessary. I won't let any of us be too hot or too cold, but I won't run these things just to feel a tad better. Your post was VERY helpful and I thank you for it.
 

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Nance, I live where it is insane to not have central AC so I am naturally now a big fan of it. And I'm actually with Ed on this one - units are efficient and completely independent of the furnace, and rebates are happening NOW. Sure efficiency may get better and rebates might go up, but if we always waited for everything to improve we'd never do anything.

You can set the thermostat to balance cost with comfort, the unit won't kick on (and your bills go up) until you the house gets warmer than the thermostat setting (when we were in Libya, we kept the AC running but at 85, so even down in Houston's summer heat, monthly bills were low and the house stayed in good shape). The exterior compressors get put somewhere out of the way so you really hardly hear them at all inside. If you hardly run the AC as it is, it won't pay for itself with lowered energy bills compared with the wall units. But you will almost certainly get your money back if/when you ever sell the house. And in the meantime, you'll be much more comfortable.
 

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Here comes an opposing viewpoint.

A/C unit and the Furnace are totally separable. Yep! You might get a better deal buying both at the same time.
7-9, maybe 10 year old furnace, and you think you may have to replace it in a couple years? A furnace should go 20 years plus, we replaced our original furnace at 25 years. I guess it depends on how big a couple is?

Central A/C Compressor is outside the house, two copper tubes run inside to the evaporator coil that sits in the plenum on top of the furnace. Two totally separate system bolted together, and either can be replaced independent of the other.

Yep! Everything will get more efficient over time, is your comfort worth the wait?

Rebates will maybe get bettter, hmmmm! And where is that money going to come from? My bet is taxes are going up, rebates are going away, and energy cost is going to be absurd.

Okay! I'm done.
Ed's right that the systems are seperate.
It wouldn't hurt to have the guy quote you just the AC and AC plus a more efficient furnace. I'm guessing that the furnace you have, if gas, is probably in the 80% eff range being 10 years old. You can get a very nice 92% efficient furnace (which does away with a chimney too) fairly reasonable . Being 12% more efficient plus a rebate might get the payback quicker. Plus in 10 years who knows what labor rates will be,etc.
It never hurts to weigh the options.
 

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We just had to replace our furnace last summer and it was 20 years old. So if you wait until you HAVE to replace the furnace, it could be a while.
 

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Nance,

That $3500 number should be the total bill, Compressor, Evaporator, and installation. The and up part is probably for higher efficiency units. Spending the money for a higher efficiency unit is dependent on several things.

(1) Can you afford it now? That is probably the first go/nogo gate.
(2) How green is your head? If you are really environmentally conscious, then get your checkbook out and go for it.
(3) How much do you really use i? The heavier the use, the bigger and faster the payback. You don't sound like a heavy user, so you end up with a puzzle to fight with.
 

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I agree with getting the AC now, and replacing the furnace when you have to. Do you have ceiling fans? If not, I suggest adding those, as well. They make a huge difference in keeping a home cooler or warmer. You can keep the AC at a higher temp if the air is moving over you.
 
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