Now here’s something we hate to see. We’re working with a customer who wants air-sealing and insulation and who just had a furnace replaced by a competitor. Of course, the competitor talked them into a low-efficiency furnace to save a few hundred dollars. I’ll concede that. But that’s not the whole story. With the inefficient furnace, the masonry chimney had to be lined to meet current code–at a cost which bumps the total up to more than the high-efficiency furnace woudl have been (which because it’s sealed combustion and vented through the sidewall, doesn’t need to touch the chimney). Right off the bat, the high-efficiency furnace would have been the less expensive option! And it would have qualified for the federal tax credit! And it would have saved the homeowner everytime it kicked on! The lower efficiency furnace was indeed cheaper. But with the chimeny liner it actually cost the homeowner more on day one, it costs the homeowner more to operate every time it comes on, and the homeowner missed out on the federal tax credit (and state incentives). Penny wise and pound foolish–steered in the wrong direction by an unenlightened contractor. I could go into the further implications on how this affects what we can do with insulation and air-sealing, but that just makes the story worse for the homeowner. Arrrrgggh!
The bottom line is this. It’s important to look at the big picture and ALL the costs–all the installation costs and the long-term operating costs–before making an investment in home improvement. And if your contractor tries to talk you into the low first-cost solution, make sure he can explain all the other associated costs.