frugal vs cheap shopping for the new furnace

April 29th, 2008

Frugal Vs Cheap ~ Shopping For The New Furnace

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.

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16 Responses to “Frugal Vs Cheap ~ Shopping For The New Furnace”

  1. I just got a new house (new to me) that needed a new furnace. We ended up going with a couple of extras to help with the allergy thing. We found they are worth the extra money in the end. Although it did break our budget a bit. >_

  2. I think you’re definitely on your way to getting the “frugal” versus “cheap” aspect.

    Cheap is getting the least expensive model and not caring about the fact that you won’t get as good efficiency and won’t have the additional assistance of the air filters.

    Believe me, as someone with asthma, you *want* the air filter if you can get it. It will help.

    90 Percent effieciency is nothing to sneeze at either.

    The 3700 is a good price for an installed furnace w/ trimmings. Good luck!

  3. “Warming” up to the idea….I like that. Very clever! Good luck furnace hunting.

    Being frugal is a way to live without sacrificing the quality of your life….being cheap is a horse of another color.

  4. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat yet, I think you’ll like it. Since we’ve had ours, the gas bill has gone down quite a bit…and it’s so nice not to have to remember to turn down the heat before we go to bed each night.

  5. Just a though based on my experience…one of the “advanced” filter options a lot of companies sell is an ionic or electrostatic filter. But I would recommend against it based on my experience. We had an electrostatic filter on our furnace but it burned out in a mere 3 years. With annual maintenance. So now we just use regular hig quality paper filters, which do a decent job (replaced monthly) because it would have cost far more to repair the electric one that we would have ever gotten out of it.

  6. Yeah! Quick work!
    Bet you could get them to throw in the programmable thermostat (+ installation) just to seal the deal. Very Smart to package the other add ons, services.
    *Think about donating the furnace if there’s any life left in it –don’t know if possible, but would be a write off if you could! Otherwise, is there a salvage yard that would buy it?
    *If the different companies are talking about different furnace brands you could google them for “issues”.
    Smart shopping!!
    BTW, the price quotes sound right on.

  7. It sounds like your on the right track. Many times a company offers a furnace the cheapest because they will cut corners and install poorly. It sounds like your getting a good furnace. Make sure the company installing it has a good reputation in your area for quality installs. Proper installation will make the furnace last longer and keep you more comfortable. Gas furnaces can also be dangerous if installed improperly.

  8. @Flaime – I don’t know if the filter is that type, it doesn’t seem it from the description. I have a link to it in this afternoon’s post, maybe that will shed some light. :)

  9. Our 60% furnace just self destructed and we decided to go with an 80% with variable fan and dual burners. The 90% single speed fan single burner was about the same cost to buy. However, the fuel savings (electricity + gas) was negligible and the variable fan is expected to provide greater comfort in both winter and summer. In addition, the 90% requires cutting through the exterior house brick, which we didn’t want to do.

    I installed a 90% single speed fan and single burner in my previous house. So we will be able to compare if the 80% with a variable speed fan and dual burners is more comfortable.

    Good luck with your furnace decision.

    Here via FoF 124.

  10. first off 90 is good but 95% is better we did. went with a trane.. few problems but we had the 10 year warrenty. part and labor.. the input fans go bad and they are 400$. we save at least 1000 dollars a year just buy switching over and it was worth it. of the bids i recived i picked the middle one. they delivered it and installed it then replaced the intake moter( they are junk this was a new out of the box furnace) they copany is bad reptation but i like the furnace, it broke down three times in 8 years

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