Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In the market for a new furnace and it’s not fun September 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:37 AM
Our old PerfecTemp furnace works fine (we think), but it's, oh, so energy inefficient.

Our old PerfecTemp furnace works fine (we think), but it's, oh, so energy inefficient and probably not safe.

ENOUGH ALREADY, I nearly want to scream.

For several weeks now, my husband and I have been discussing the purchase of a new home heating and cooling system. This has involved research, asking family and friends for opinions, meeting with “furnace guys,” discussing choices and more.

And just when I thought we had it all figured out, I had to go and ask more questions: Does your bid include a programmable thermostat? What about the permanent air filter? You didn’t tell us about that.

So now I have more options to consider: Do I like filter A, filter B or filter C? It was easy to eliminate filter A, the permanent, washable filter, after the furnace guy told me he throws them away. After seeing the flimsy filter, I agreed with his decision.

That leaves a regular small-pleated filter and a pleated filter so big it could be Paul Bunyan’s accordion. The larger filter fits a whole-home filtration system and must be replaced once a year at a cost of about $40.

The filtration system, I’m told, will keep most of the junk (a.k.a. mold, dust, allergens, etc.) out of the air. But I wonder, does this system really work, or is it hype?

And then the furnace man throws me another option. Seems we can get a more energy efficient air conditioner for an additional $274. Because the Xcel Energy rebate is higher, $330 instead of $180, the unit will, in reality cost us only $125 more than the less efficient model we had already decided on. See why my head is spinning.

Then he hands me a brochure about duct cleaning. We had discussed this earlier and I’m still researching the topic.

So, between comparing furnace brands, energy efficiency, filters, government energy tax credits, energy rebates, duct work options and more, I’m about ready to say: “The old furnace works fine. Let’s just keep it. To heck with air conditioning. We don’t need it. We’ve gotten along just fine without air for 25 years.”

But I know better. Our furnace is vintage 1960s and is 60 percent or less energy efficient, or more accurately, it’s quite energy inefficient. When one of the furnace guys looked at the aging furnace and asked whether we have a carbon monoxide detector, well, that clinched it.

If you have any advice regarding heating and cooling systems, whole-house filtration systems and/or duct cleaning, I’m listening.

Which air filter would you choose?

Which air filter would you choose?

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling