The time has come to replace the 25 year old furnace in my recently purchased house. I'm planning on also replacing the central air while I'm at it. While I'm not thrilled about having to put out the dough, I am looking forward to resolving my biggest peeve with my current system - which is that the air conditioning has trouble getting to the upstairs of the house in the summer.
My house is tiny - about 1,200 square feet. It's a Cape Cod - officially it's 1.5 stories, meaning that the upstairs bedrooms are actually in the attic, so to speak.
I have 2 quotes that I'm dealing with. The first vendor wants to install a Trane furnace (2 stage, 92% efficient - 80,000 BTUs) and a Trane AC unit (I think it's 14 SEER). He noted that I have asbestos in my basement, which butts up against the "main" ductwork (sorry, don't know the correct terminology); he said that the existing ductwork was fine and that I wouldn't need to have the asbestos removed. He said that my cooling problem might be the result of having the wrong sized AC unit installed; he also suggested that I raise the registers in the upstairs bedrooms to the middle of the wall (about 3 feet up - they are currently down around the baseboards) to help spread the air around.
Vendor #2 wants to install a Bryant 80% efficient 2-stage furnace (70,000 BTUs) and a Bryant Puron Plus AC unit (13.5 seer - upgradable to 14.5 for some extra $$$). He said that my cooling problem is probably due mostly to improper air flow, and that I'd need to have the asbestos removed so that he could make the return air trunk line larger.
The Bryant guy's quote is almost exactly $1,000 less than the Trane guy's quote, but having the asbestos removed will even that out. Anyhow, my questions are many - I know that they're difficult to answer without actually seeing the situation, but here they are:
- Could there be any equipment differences between the Trane and Bryant brands that would explain the vendors' difference of opinion on the size of the return air trunk line?
- Any opinions on Trane vs. Bryant?
- The Bryant guy wants to charge an extra $250 to install a Honeywell T8600 programmable thermostat. I can buy that same model on the web for $106. Is there any great skill/advantage to having the contractor install it? For $250, I could buy the thermostat and have my handyman buddy install it - *and* wallpaper my bathroom after he's done.
Any other opinions, advice, etc. will be greatly appreciated. I really would prefer to install the Trane - the warranty is better, and it's just better looking, darnit - but the whole airflow argument concerns me, and I don't want to put out a bunch of money for a new furnace/AC if its performance is going to be hampered by inadequate ductwork.
Thanks much! - Ali