The homestead is 23 years old and has a heat pump manufactured in 1989. For the past several years, it has needed at least one service call per year, including the following:
- Recharge R-22 refrigerant (about every 2 years … slow leak somewhere). This got expensive as the price of R-22, which has been phased out for its ozone depleting properties, has risen steadily to discourage use.
- Replace heat strips
- Replace relays
- Repair broken compressor wire
So we have been on borrowed time with the unit, not to mention the fact that it is <8 SEER and not energy efficient at all, by today’s standards. Time to look at a replacement.
I got bids from two places. One was my usual contractor. They didn’t do much up front work (Manual-J calculation, for example), but more or less went by what I already had and suggested at 15 SEER replacement unit. Total quote was $5,205 installed. It included a new Trane single-speed air handler, more or less a direct replacement for what I have, and a Trane 15 SEER 3.5 ton heat pump. It also included a new lineset.
As I researched it, I found out several things:
- I wanted to go with Trane, which was what my contractor had recommended and bid on
- There are incentives from Ameren Illinois, including low-interest loans
- Trane had rebates for certain systems
Curious about the incentives, I researched them and found out that my original contractor was not on the approved list of installers. I selected all of the contractors on the approved list that handled Trane and went to Angie’s list to see how real customers were rating them. I sent an email to the one contractor that stood out and asked for a bid. I was contacted right away and set up an appointment with their advance man. In all, he visited me twice before giving me a quote. He took measurements, looked at duct work, and did a Manual-J calculation for me. In all, I think he spent 2 or 3 hours at my house plus 4 hours travel time.
In the meantime, I had done more research on the Trane systems. I found that Trane was one of the best, and I looked at Trane’s top-of-the-line, full communication system. I asked for a bid on the top model XL20i heat pump with a top model TAM8 Hyperion air handler, an XL950 thermostat, THUMD500 humidifier and a CleanEffects air cleaner system.
Keep in mind that the installation on these systems in complicated and that the install will determine whether or not your system works as designed. So the bids are unique to your circumstances. My bid for the absolute best system Trane makes, with all the bells and whistles, was $13,683.00 complete. This included the following:
- Trane XL20i 4-ton dual compressor heat pump
- Trane Hyperion TAM8 4-ton air handler
- Trane THUMD500 humidifier
- Trane XL950 thermostat
- Trane CleanEffects air filtration system
- Replacement of lineset
- Duct modifications for air handler
- Removal and disposal of old equipment
Although the bid was $13,683.00, the contractor, being on the approved list of installers from my utility, Ameren Illinois, was willing to take the rebates and incentives directly off the price I would pay. This included $1,000 from Trane and $600 from the utility. Subtracting the $1,600 from the bid, then, the total price now became $12,083. In addition, we will have another $300 federal tax credit that we can get when we file our 2013 tax return. I agreed to pay $500 in earnest money, making the total to finance $11,583. The utility is part of a program that has low-interest, long-term financing. When I did the math on that, considering my utility savings when moving from a <8 SEER to a 20 SEER system, it made sense to take out a 10 year, 4% loan for the balance, and let the utility savings help me make my payment. It took a couple of weeks to get the whole package, financing, equipment, etc., approved, but in the end it all worked out and an installation date was set.
In Part 2, we’ll look at Day 1 of the install.