Heat pumps. Not really the most exciting of topics for most of us, but a really important part of our home. Our unit was about ten years old and over the past year or two has been giving us some trouble.
The cost to repair was finally getting to be more expensive than the cost to replace, so we decided to replace.
How did we decide? Well, it’s kind of a sinking ship, for one thing. Fix one part, there are 10 more that could break anytime. A few hundred spent here and there to fix a part was worth it for awhile, but when we started getting quotes for things that are $1000+ to repair, it was time to consider replacing it. These expensive repairs were not DIYable, either, since they required removing and replacing freon which can only be done by a pro.
Nowadays from what we’ve been told, it seems like heat pumps last 10-15 years. Since heat pumps get used for both heating and cooling, they run year round, and therefore break faster than if you have a separate furnace and A/C. If you figure worst case scenario, your heat pump lasts only 10 years, and you get a super fancy $10,000 unit, that’s $1000/year of ownership. If you are paying more than $1000 per year on repairs, I think it makes sense to just get a new one. We were at that point.
The decision to replace even more obvious once we started getting quotes. We found we really liked some options that cost about half what we were originally thinking. And they came with a full 10 year parts and 2 year labor warranty. So a $5000 unit is really only about $500/year to own for the first 10 years. Some sales people tried to tell us that the better efficiency would totally negate the cost of the unit because of energy savings, although I’m skeptical we will see such extreme savings. Our electric bills average around $150/month. If they all of a sudden slash in half, I’ll let you guys know! I’m doubtful this will happen, but hopefully they will go down some.
The unit we decided on was a Bryant 2.5 ton, variable speed air handler, 13 SEER system.
Bryant is made by Carrier, and from what we have researched, they are essentially the same, except a little less expensive because of the name. The air handler actually says Carrier even though we paid for a Bryant system.
The final price was about $4,600 which included an insulated return box and wrapping some of the ductwork with noise reducing material, and he also included a media filter slot. Media filters are those big 4 inch filters that you only change every 6 months, and from what we researched they are better for your system than the typical 1 inch filter that comes standard.
We decided on a 13 SEER system (which is the minimum you can buy nowadays) because our home is already pretty efficient being only 1660 sq. ft. and having newer windows and doors. Everyone who came out said they usually recommend at least 15 SEER, but in our case since our energy bills were already low, we would likely not see enough savings to justify the extra cost for a higher SEER rating. Since we got a variable speed air handler, our SEER rating is actually going to be about 14.
The new unit is so much quieter. Our air handler is right smack in the middle of the first floor, and our 10 year old Rheem really roared. The tech adjusted the blower speed for our new Bryant to be on the lowest setting possible to still move enough air around our house. Most of the noise from our Rheem was from too much air being pushed into the ducts. Using a lower setting really really helped. You can still hear it running (this is practically unavoidable when the closet is right next to you) but the noise isn’t nearly as obtrusive anymore. The Bryant is a quieter system as well and using an insulated return box and wrapping the exposed ducts also helped.
So, while not quite as fun as making something pretty, I sure am happy to be able to hear the TV at the same time the heat is running :).