Yesterday I had three local companies come and do estimates on a new furnace for our house. I only have two of the estimates, because I told the first company they could email it to me later in the week. They are the company we have our current service contract through, and they wanted to give me a detailed summary with a few different scenarios. I should have asked for a ballpark estimate just to compare to the other two, but I didn’t realize I’d get the other two right away.
In this process, I’ve begun to work through the difference between being frugal and being cheap, for us. We did some research, and we decided we would only look at 90%+ AFUE furnaces (which is an efficiency measure) and we wanted an Energy Star rated furnace (which I think all 90% AFUE ones are, but I’m not completely positive). As a comparison, our current furnace is about a 60-65% AFUE. Heh. We could get an 80% AFUE furnace, which would still be a great improvement over our current one, but we decided that we want to make a choice that not only is better for the environment, but will save us money over the long run. We had representatives from three major manufacturers come today, all of which were highly rated by Consumer Reports.
The cheap part of me really wanted to just get the lowest price furnace and not consider anything else. But the frugal part in me has won out so far, and besides deciding on the 90% vs 80% AFUE furnace, I’ve been asking lots of questions about warranties and service contracts and guarantees as well as what options we have as far as add-ons and what the benefits of different options are. My spouse has asthma, and I have pretty severe dust allergies, so we’ve been discussing different air filter add-ons that are available as well.
Again, the cheap part of me just wants to do the furnace, and the heck with anything else. But we actually have an opportunity to do a duct cleaning very inexpensively compared to quotes I have collected on that over the past year (we have 27 vents in our house, which makes duct cleaning an expensive proposition) as well as put an air filter in that would improve the lifespan of our furnace as well as significantly improve the air quality in our house. And, by the way, our house is not huge, is is around 1800 square feet, yet it has 27 vents. The living room itself has 6. It is just an odd thing.
So depending on what we choose and what we end up installing, we are looking at spending somewhere between $3000 (for just the furnace) and $4000 (if we do an air filter and duct cleaning as well). I think I will call the one we are leaning towards right now and see if I can knock their price down a little if we do the duct cleaning and the air filter as well, and get that total down from ~$3950 to maybe $3750. Plus our gas company is running a $250 rebate right now when you install a new 90%+ AFUE furnace, plus a $20 rebate on the programmable thermostat. Which, after all is said and done, would get that estimate down to about $3700 if I can’t knock their price down any. They are the estimate in the middle right now (we expect the one we haven’t gotten yet to be the highest based on information the previous owners left about a past estimate they did) and they know it, since they asked after they gave me their estimate how they compared to the other ones we’d had done. So I think they might have some room to wiggle.
Not exactly how I wanted to spend a few thousand dollars right now but I am actually warming up to the idea. And truly starting to feel like I understand the difference between being frugal and being cheap. At least, I hope I do.