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Thread: HVAC contractors

  1. #11
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    When we replaced ours, we got three bids and recommendations. That should be enough for you to listen and then trust your gut. We replaced our 1974 furnace/central AC with a high efficiency one, and it saved a lot of money in heating/cooling costs.

    For our VT house here we are looking at a mini-split to replace electric baseboard and to add AC, but that is probably not what you're looking for, but there are new options out there that I didn't even know about a year or so ago.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    In my older house I was required to upgrade my electrical panel to handle the additional power load of an AC. That was a little pricey.

  3. #13
    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    We replaced our furnace and central air just a few months ago and used the same HVAC contractor we'd used for routine maintenance for the past 25 years. If you're open to that you should probably find a maintenance sticker on the furnace with the contractor information on it.
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

  4. #14
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    We need a hot water heater because ours is leaking. My husband would like a tankless but I told him that they are 2-3 times the price from my search so not worth it.

  5. #15
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    We need a hot water heater because ours is leaking. My husband would like a tankless but I told him that they are 2-3 times the price from my search so not worth it.
    Have you done a cost analysis in terms of the electricity used to keep that hot water heated all day long? We installed a Rinnai heater in VT, and we love it. We know that the hot water is on-demand, so no energy is being used to keep the water hot during the 8-10 hours a day we aren't using it. I'd at least look into it.

    Ours cost about 2000 to purchase and have installed by our plumber.
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  6. #16
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    I have heard about mini-splits. What do they run on? How are they different from heat pumps?

  7. #17
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    I have heard about mini-splits. What do they run on? How are they different from heat pumps?
    One of NewGig's posts was the first time I had heard of them, but I have found that there are people in my area that are installing them.

    Here is one good description:

    https://www.fujitsugeneral.com/us/re...ini-split.html

    I am interested because my house is so small and the mini-split doesn't require ductwork, and I want a back-up heating system that's not as expensive as electric baseboard heat, and also we have no air conditioning, which is fine, but if we run into super hot days, I'd like the opportunity to turn it on. This year I would have turned it on maybe 3 days.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  8. #18
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip Catherine.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    So went to a few stores and we got a tankless for 680. It will save us 150/year in electricity. Online it said both regular and tankless were much more expensive at the same stores we went in person and so much cheaper. A regular one was only 350. I find that odd.

  10. #20
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice here. Thanks. My sister, who is a lot like Steve in terms of thoroughness and thoughtfulness, also offered advice. She suggested yelp to find five contractors if I didn't have anyone local that I could ask for suggestions. Then get quotes from them all. According to her it is likely that one will be super cheap, one super expensive, and the other three all in the same midrange with the differences largely being different prices for the unit itself. Then, among the middle three, go with the one that is certified for installation of that brand. Looking on yelp was interesting. Basically all the contractors either had 5 stars or had about 3.5 stars. Almost none were in the middle and almost none were lower than 3.5. The poor reviews generally had to do with appointment scheduling problems or, more concerning, problems shortly after install that might indicate that the installer did a sloppy or incorrect job.

    To answer Steve's questions, yes, it's cooling we're concerned about. We will only need the heat on rainy winter days. On sunny days we may run it briefly in the morning to take the chill off but the rest of the day solar gain will be enough heat until bedtime. And cooling isn't that critical. July, August and September the average high is 85 and the average low in the 50's. That's what it's been this week (we moved in Sunday). By opening all the windows in the evening and closing them all in the morning it's never gotten above 70 downstairs or 75 upstairs. If the weather was always average we wouldn't need/want a/c. But we can expect 25-30 days per year that are well above average, usually in chunks of 4-7 days in a row. That's when we will need a/c.

    This place has definitely not been renovated beyond upgrading the kitchen significantly. (we have seen listings for still original units in the development. One recently sold for about $100k less than we paid). One thing about our unit that has changed, the original crappy windows were replaced with modern double pane windows, so we probably won't need quite as big of a furnace.

    About the only thing our utility offers rebates on is if you replace a gas furnace with an electric heat pump. California is aggressively trying to push away from natural gas, so this isn't a surprise. But I am slightly surprised that there's not a program for replacing a/c's with significantly more efficient units. A lot of PG&E's territory includes parts of the state like Sacramento where it routinely gets over 100.

    Alan, there is no maintenance sticker on the furnace so I actually wonder if regular maintenance has been done on it which is another reason I'd just as soon replace it. 43 years is well past the normal lifespan for furnaces.

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