Gas Residential Forced Hot Air Furnace: Questions For A New One

Hello:
Will be moving into a 30 year old split level house outside of Boston. Looks like I will have to replace the existing heating furnace.
Presently, the house has a gas, forced hot air furnace, with a section for the condenser part of an A/C as part of the duct work exiting the furnace.
Would like to know a bit more about the state-of-the-art in these things before going to a contractor for an estimate.
a. Are there different types available these days ?
Pros and cons for the differences ? Recommendations ?
b. Is there any consensus regarding the "best" brand(s) ?
Probably more important, and brands to avoid ?
c. How does one size for the appropriate unit ?
d. Not really too sure what else to ask.
Any bells and whistles that I would want to consider ?
What should I be asking the contractor specifically about ?
Any opinions and thoughts would be most appreciated.
Thanks, B.
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What is wrong with the old one? How old is it? You want an energy efficient one that only requires PVC exhaust if you get a new one. I like the ones where the intake/exhaust is the same pipe one inside the other. Some people feel Carrier is over complicated but I have 3 in my house for 8 years with no problems. Check Consumer Reports at library for repair record. Installation quality and right size is most important factor. If it is also your ac make sure the blower is plenty big for your application. If the guy doesn't do a load calculation for your house which considers footage, number of windows, etc, throw him out.

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