cheapest option for a house I'm selling?

mr_doveAugust 3, 2012

I'm trying to sell my house of 10 years. We have a potential buyer but the furnace has become an issue. We can't afford to pay much. I have 3 quotes and the lowest is $2000 for just the furnace although I don't have the specifics about the model yet.

The AC unit is still functional.

What is my cheapest option considering that we're selling the house? We'll probably end up offering to split the cost with the buyer.

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A single stage high efficient would be your cheapest option, which is still going to be at least 90% efficient and the new home owners should be satisfied with that. $2000 seems like a decent price for a base furnace.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:45PM
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The cheapest option would be a builder's grade 80% efficiency furnace. Can the current furnace be repaired? If so will it cost less than $2000?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:55PM
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just deduct from selling price.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 3:11PM
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I would put in the cheaper one...or see if they want to accept a credit of the cost of the cheapest one and they might want to upgrade to a better system to save themselves $ in the long run. If my choice were to take a functional builder crap furnace that meets the requirements only of being newer and functional....I might choose to take the cash and do my own research on what to buy.. This assuming the old one is still functional.

Is it a 10 year old house, or you've had it for 10? I'm surprised they are balking if it's a 10 yr old house and furnace that works. They might be fishing for cash....I would offer only the builder grade in that case...yes, that seems to be it,,,they are negotiating and probably won't even want you to have the work done, just a credit.

In my own thread someone suggested a buyer wouldn't care about the furnace...and mine is 16 and will be 20 or more by the time we sell, so we are going to fix whats not broken (yet) because by the time we sell it will be so we may as well do it and start saving $$ on utilities sooner rather than later. Your thread proves my thought process on doing it early...

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:25PM
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The unit that the HVAC company is proposing is:
80% 80K BTU Payne model.

We're going 50/50 with the buyer.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:47PM
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My vote is for the energy rater la option.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 6:30PM
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80% payne. geeze.

do you know that 80% gas furnaces
are being phased out due to lack
of efficiency?

they will quit selling them first in
the northern part of the US
ship them to the south..and sell
all that are in stock.

the eventual goal is for 90% to replace 80%.

there is a reason that the hvac industry
is doing this..just as the reason for
minimum efficiency hvac jumping from
10 SEER to 13 SEER.

these lower efficiency units are inefficient.
costs to operate them are high.

part is consumer driven..homeowner's wising up
to paying low costs to purchase and premium
price to operate for life of unit.

at least give the homeowner a chance to buy
something better. he/she is the one that
will pay to operate the unit. you & hvac
company won't.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 8:38PM
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The OP is trying to sell his house and needs to correct a cracked heat exchanger problem. If I were the buyer I would take the money and put it towards a better furnace installed by a good contractor.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 8:39AM
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Cindy, you said:
"In my own thread someone suggested a buyer wouldn't care about the furnace...and mine is 16 and will be 20 or more by the time we sell, so we are going to fix whats not broken (yet) because by the time we sell it will be so we may as well do it and start saving $$ on utilities sooner rather than later. Your thread proves my thought process on doing it early.."

I'd look at this situation differently. The house has a non-functioning heater, it hasn't discouraged the buyer from going ahead with the purchase. The OP says they're splitting the cost 50/50, which means that waiting saved him 50% of the cost.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:41PM
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Energy rater la,

You're an expert, it's generous of you to spend your time to enlighten consumers.

One comment though, about the 80% vs 90+% efficiency furnaces. There are parts of the country where the current cost premium to buy and install a higher efficiency furnace is uneconomic to pay. I live in one of them. (and if the la in your name is Louisiana or Los Angeles, you do too) With mild winters, there just isn't enough money in the gas savings to cover the added cost.

I inquired about one with my HVAC contractor, and he discouraged me from doing it, saying there was no payback.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:53PM
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Energy Rater La was commenting on the Energy Star rule where 80% AFUE furnance can only be sold in the southern states. The northern states will be forced to use 90% AFUE furnaces. The belief is the rule will eventually be enforced in the southern states.

The rules are set up to save energy regardless whether there is a pay back or not.

I think the OP is fortunate that he is getting away with a $1000 bill. I predict the buyer is going to have future problems with the installation and associated problems with the AC.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 1:52PM
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I'm aware of the change, my comments were directed to what Energy said. I think most people act based on $$$. There's nothing wrong with that, I do the same. Given the choice between using energy responsibly and conservatively, or saving money, most will choose to save money. Where I live, you save money by installing cheaper equipment and using more gas.

It doesn't take new equipment or government mandates to protect the environment, all that's required is for people to change the setting on their thermostats. There's far more opportunity to save energy that way than by any other.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 2:32PM
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I can't think of a single client of mine in the
past 8 years that didn't chose 90+ furnaces.
the first 4 years I didn't know enough to
recommend them..took a while to learn the
hvac side of efficiency. its like a different

since so many existing homes retrofit open cell
foam for unvented attic..the self condensing 90+
furnaces are the second part of the equation to
make the houses with furnaces in the attic work.
of course you can still foam with an 80% furnace
but you have to make fresh air provision to furnace.
and water heater if it is also in the attic.

if homeowners would have bids that provide
good- minimum efficiency
better -mid range efficiency
and best higher range efficiency
for hvac choices..quite a few would
I always tell my clients to ask for this,
and hvac companies that I've worked with
in the past make this a standard bid.

you would be suprised at the amount of
self education consumers have. its a great thing!

have a good weekend everyone.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 8:56PM
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Energy, this could very well be a regional thing.

I live in a mild climate (West Coast) area and many of the things you mention are uncommon here. Attics are rarely sealed, spray foam as a retrofit is not frequently done, and few houses have equipment of any kind in the attic. Water heaters and HVAC stuff is most typically found in the garage or an equipment closet in the house, either of which would be purposefully vented to provide fresh air for combustion. You may be interested to know, or you may know, that in anticipation of (heavier than air) gasoline fumes in garages, open combustion equipment has to be raised on platforms something like 18" above the floor.

I'm sure the HVAC contractors you know are happy to bid the higher efficiency equipment, because both the equipment and the install labor are more expensive than replacing an older unit like with like.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I agree with Energy. I think the OP would be best off to either drop an agreed to amount off of the selling price of the home and be done with being a part of a poor decision on the new owners part and put it in writing. I realize in some areas with a cracked heat exchanger either of my options are not possible but here is my second and favorite option.

If the purchaser cannot come up with the funds to have it done right with a quality high efficiency unit and in a cooling climate a matched a/c also or heat pump INCREASE the purchase price minus the original 1k that was agreed upon and calculate any taxes or realtor fees that you might incur and add them so you stay even. After the close of the sale write them a check for X$$. Make sure you cover your butt in writing.

I know someone who did this and had it set up so it was all systems go with the hvac company and after the closing the seller wrote the check to the hvac company. The buyer got a matched quiet efficient system installed before they even got moved in and the seller actually ended up with 1k more from the buyer plus added taxes/fees for wanting to help get it done right.

I think the only wrong answer is patching a builders grade unit in there with an installer that is builders grade.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Snidely - You are presenting a frustrating situation and a good rational for government mandates on efficiency.

There are a lot of areas right now where it doesn't pay to install 90% furnaces because NG is so cheap right now. That doesn't make it right. Gas furnaces can last a long time and the price of NG will be higher in the future.

Your original post asked for the cheapest option but you have 3 bids and picking the lowest bid isn't rocket science.

Thankfully, many people actually choose lower energy use even when the payoff is long. For those that don't, we get government mandates. Now if you live in San Diego, then you should say that.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:19AM
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"It doesn't take new equipment or government mandates to protect the environment"

I don't like government mandates. But the country had a bad track record on polluting the environment before the EPA had a lot of muscle.

I also believe if the US must import energy from unfriendly countries then we should strive to use as little as possible. My preference would be to this voluntarily with no mandates.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:20AM
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david - Sure gas will be higher in the future. It'll also be lower in the future. When a contractor says you'll replace the new furnace before seeing a savings, what choice would most people make? And yes, not San Diego, we're a bit cooler here, but that'll give you the idea. I tried to be clear that I understand there are significant regional differences, but there's probably a whole stretch of the South where the dollars and cents would be similar.

mike - Most of the electricity and gas consumed is "Made in the USA", other than some hydro power imported from Canada. There are no geopolitical considerations in this respect.

But if you want to pursue the thought, the low hanging fruit of energy waste is auto transportation. Have you been outside the US lately and seen all the small cars people drive? Much could be accomplished by adding a $1 per gallon tax to gas (much lower than most countries). No added administration, federal tax at a lower rate is already collected. Now THAT would be an action to reduce energy purchased from unfriendly countries.

Also, how about programs to add solar cells to roofs? That could also do a lot, and I suspect we'll see much more of that in the future.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:18PM
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In my part of the country I believe the bulk of the electric power plants are fueled by oil. I think a large percentage of this is imported from OPEC.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:42PM
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I don't think there are oil power plants
anymore in the U.S.

countryboymo...what do you think?

30% coal, 40% NG, 25% nuclear, 5% everything else
is how it breaks down in La.

coal is the most destructive to the land it is
harvested from. have you heard of MTR mountian top in W.Va? blow off the top of the
mountian to get to the coal..and the cave-ins,
and health issues to the is a shame
that we allow this to happen.

coal burns dirty, so emission credits for
residnetal homes that build efficiently
are traded to industry who are so
very inefficient. from New Orleans
to Baton Rouge and farther are industries
dumping waste into the Mississippi river.
this area is known as cancer alley.

I was shocked when I found out that residential
emissions were sold to industry. it just seems
so wrong. I don't know if this holds true in
every state, but it does here in La.

and then to learn that the coal fired energy
plants were so inefficient. millions wasted
on building new power plants when the better
investment would be to bring existing power
plants up to date. my soapbox...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Energy, the profile for your area isn't hugely different from what I found for the national numbes. Wikipedia gave 3 year old DOE data which said 45% coal, 23% Natural Gas, 20% nuclear, 7% hydro, almost 4% renewable (presumably solar and wind), and 1% petroleum. Petroleum is used in random places and much of Hawaii.

The production and use of coal is nasty in many respects but it's a MASSIVE example of what I was talking about. Why is it so prevalent? Because it's cheap. Why aren't the power plants required to install scrubbers to reduce emissions? Political power and money.

Rules get passed to influence piddly little things like home furnace efficiency, and the big issues like power plant pollution and automobile inefficiency go unresolved.

The emission cap and trade thing is a joke, it's a ruse to allow polluters to keep polluting. All the big polluters support ideas like that, it's cheaper for them than cleaning up their acts.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Since we have gotten OT - cap and trade is actually a good way of allocating resources. If it cost a billion dollars to install a scrubber and $500 million will achieve the same reduction in emissions by installing solar hot heaters in 100,000 homes, then go for it.

When NG is 5 times more expensive in the rest of the world and they are actively expanding the means to get it over there, it will be significantly more expensive in the future. It is actually more like 7 times more expensive in Asia.

So what is your average NG use per year in therms? Mine is about 150 ... with my 90% furnace. Payback is probably 50 years at current rates (if you were switching). But - 90% was cheaper in new construction in a basement.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:59PM
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where do y'all live David Cary & Snidley?
I'm sure somewhere you've posted
it before..just can't recall general

if garden web were to add any features
it would be great if everyone provided
their general location.
things vary so much from one area to
the next.
and that I could change my user name
to have the L of la capitalized.
but that would require new email..

I think Mr Dove has given up on this
thread..sorry OP. but its been
nice chatting with y'all.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:43PM
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david -
Your thoughts are good. I personally discount cap and trade because the oil companies/coal companies/coal burning utilities aren't against it. As to your scrubber/solar scenario, installing solar doesn't stop the emissions from that power plant, it may just limit how many new ones are built. I want to stop the old one from poluting, so I say do both - require the scrubbers AND add the solar capacity, not because it's a money saver but because it's the right thing to do. We all have to pay more because production costs go up as a result, too bad, that too will encourage conservation and efficiency. What do you think about that?

My heating consumption for two furnaces in a poorly insulated larger house is about 500-550 therms. I've just added insulation and will see if there's any effect this coming winter.

Energy - West Coast, coastal fringes (not inland)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:25PM
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If you shop around more you might be able to get a nicer furnace for $2000. In my part of the country there are countractors that will install a 95% single stage for $1500. These are not trane units but I"ve seen some of their installs and they did quality work with decent cheaper equipment.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:50AM
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Loc - central NC, Raleigh

Snidley - I got confused and thought you were OP. Holy crap - that is a lot of NG for CA. Not sure what coastal fringes is.

I actually used more like 80 therms this year because it was so warm. But I have a heat pump that I have set to kick in above 40 (since NG is so cheap). 5000 sqft new construction.

Sure - you can require scrubbers and put solar hot water on every house, but there is a limit to what an economy can bear. CA is (in)famous for requiring so much that the economy pays the price. Given that our way of life is in jeopardy based on economic conditions, it isn't something to take lightly. And if we fail, millions of people worldwide die because we don't buy their products...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:34AM
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OP, sorry for all the off topic banter.

No one's way of life is in jeopardy. There are many new mega solar "plants" under construction out in the desert right now, and that's the future. In coming years, the same thing will happen in open spaces throughout the US where sunshine is plentiful. Long transmission lines to urban users. All that transformative construction will provide jobs. More expensive power - yes, but it's the right thing to do. The best thing about solar is that the times of peak demand coincide with times of peak production - summer afternoons.

The days of cheap power are behind us. If you go abroad, you find that more expensive energy causes more conservative use and more efficiency. We'll transform to do that too, and that'll also create jobs and economic activity.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Coastal fringes: think Hatteras. The climate along the coast is more moderate than the climate 50mi inland due to the Pacific being cooler pretty much year round.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I know of quite a few 'peak' plants around here that have diesel combustion engines but the better ones have microturbines or bigger turbines that run on diesel of natural gas for peak load conditions. I do not know of any that run diesel or any fuel oil in an off peak situation.

I wonder what the OP decided for a solution.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:51PM
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Oops, sorry for using the odd phrase, not sure where it came from. Not at the beach, but a few miles away. It's a coastal environment.

Our peakers here are mostly natural gas.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:31PM
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