New home build- should I upgrade HVAC?

remhedMay 19, 2011

Hi all,

My wife and I are thinking of building a 3 bedroom ranch with Beazer near Indianapolis. They have an "eSMART Green" option that is a $3,000 upgrade. What that includes is increased exterior wall sheathing and insulation (not sure on rating bump as info on this is not clear); increases attic insulation to R49 (from??? don't know); bumps the furnace from 90% efficiency to 95%; 14 SEER AC to 16; htere might be some other small things like jumper ducts, etc...

I am tryihng to determine if this is worth the cost. In Indy we get extreme weather in Summer (it will hit 100F) and Winter (it will hit -10F). Any opinions?



Carmel, In

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Get an energy rater to help you sort it out.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 1:29PM
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That sounds like a no brainer. I don't know that the added seer is worth it but certainly extra insulation and a 95% furnace is. I wonder if they can tell you the estimated saving without going to the trouble of getting a rater.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 6:19PM
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More details should be provided by the builder.

What about a heat pump instead of the A/C?


    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:43PM
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While the comments made are worthwhile, one would hope that the system, whether the standard or upgraded model, is properly sized to the heat loss/gain of the home.

With an improperly sized system, you could possibly not achieve the expected efficiencies.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 10:38AM
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I'd want to know about the baseline for the walls. If it is R19 and they are upgrading to R25, that would be good. Also if the attic is going from R30 to R49.

The %5 increase in the furnace may not be that much depending on your gas rates. A %5 decrease on a $400/winter gas bill would only be $20/yr.

I'd want to know if that 16SEER unit was single or 2-stage.

If the gains in efficiency amount to $300/yr in savings, would it be worth the $3000 to you?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Ask the builder for the model numbers of both sets of HVAC equipment. It will help you determine the value of the upgrade.

In my experience builder upgrades tend to be over priced. However in this case there could be good value to what is being proposed.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 4:35PM
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I'd be pretty impressed if a heating bill in Indianapolis was $400 a year - but it also probably isn't over $1000.

I guess I should say that all these upgrades seems like a good idea but the price may be an issue. All upgrades on production builders are profit items. Sometimes at ridiculous markups. But I think 5% is worth $500, upgraded seer is worth $800, upgraded attic is worth $300, and wall sheathing (assuming r-4) is worth $800. That is pretty close to $3k so I don't think the price is out of line. These are all rough guesses and the attic is "worth" more than $300.

Your sq footage might help to figure the value of the upgrade. Also ceiling heights. If this is a 1000 sq ft house, then the price is way out of line but if it is 3000 - then it is a great price.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 6:36AM
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If you're running AC for 3-5 months straight then the upgraded SEER rating should pay itself off in a couple years... otherwise I'm not sure you'll see the benefit on the upgraded efficiency in the AC. The increased insulation and furnace efficiency sound solid for the price

Here is a link that might be useful: Check this out for AC efficiencies

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 3:06PM
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