insulate ductwork? move ducts?
I am having trouble deciding which expert to believe. One HVAC company and also an energy auditor recommend we insulate our ductwork (will cost $2300 with first one, energy auditor bundled job with others). The second company says it is already insulated on the inside of the duct, and although it does not have a stated R value, further insulation is not worth it.
Also the first company also recommends we move our ducts to the perimeter and replace the 4-way blower with a 2-way ($200/duct capped at $2400). The second says that it will not be worth the money to do that. The nice thing is the bid from the first company has itemized everything and letting us basically go as "basic" or "luxury" as we want, so we can go with them and not move ducts. The guy from the first company was wondering if we would be ok with our AC being out of commission for a day during installation, and I told him that we have our AC set at 81 and our heat set at 62 so we would likely be just fine, but I feel like some of the options he's giving us are for people who are only comfy at 75.
Some background info that might help. We are converting our ranch house in metro DC from electric baseboard to gas heat (planning to keep a few baseboard units for zone heat or to supplement in the basement, which has few ducts). Because we have a finished basement, it would be very expensive to put the furnace in the basement and add new ductwork. At the recommendation of several HVAC companies, we are planning to put the furnace in the attic and use the AC ductwork for heat.
There is not much room in the attic, so the first company says we have to move ducts now, as there will not be access later. I have to clarify with second company.
Both of these companies come highly recommended in various consumer publications. The first one has a reputation of being good but expensive. I tried to get bids from other highly recommended companies, but they felt like the job was too big for their very small company, and I think another was so overwhelmed by explaining the various ways the job could be done that he didn't follow up with a bid. Another highly recommended company gave a hand-written, not detailed bid and and was difficult to communicate with. Another company said I would not be comfortable with a furnace in the attic and did not recommend I heat my house that way and gave me a bid for baseboard hydronic heat (expensive!!). I also want a company geographically near us because I feel like you get faster service and better prices that way. So I believe these two companies are my best options.
Thanks for any advice.