Luckily, the decision was easier than we thought. Most gas furnaces have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. For us, it didn’t make sense to spend $600 when the furnace would most likely last another 3 to 5 years before we would need to replace it.
Get a second opinion. Not sure what move is best for you? Talk to your heating and cooling contractor, who can assess the condition of your furnace and give you advice on how to proceed. Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion, as they are motivated to keep you as a satisfied client.
Consider overall costs. Furnace repair and replacement is rarely a planned expense, but you may qualify for incentives. Knowing what you qualify for in rebates and tax credits is important when making your decision. It may make up the difference in being able to justify the more expensive yet more energy-efficient product. The result is the potential of reduced monthly energy costs. Just be aware that you will have to pay the purchase and installation costs upfront and wait for the rebate and tax credit.
Research incentives. Many utilities are encouraged to offer incentives to customers who purchase energy-efficient appliances. Start your search by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Also contact your local utility or visit their website for additional information, or talk to your heating and cooling contractor.
Some local utilities partner with lending institutions to provide competitive loan interest rates to purchase eligible equipment. These plans vary and may include a six-month same-as-cash option. Be aware that by committing to special finance assistance, you may be sacrificing rebate incentives. Call your local utility to find out what options are available and what restrictions apply.
The Federal Government offers tax incentives for purchasing energy-efficient appliances. In 2008, Energy Star delivered cost and energy savings estimated at $19 billion. If you're considering the purchase of a major appliance or home upgrade, visit their website to determine what meets qualification for federal tax credit. Tax credit amounts vary, but can be as much as 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500.00. The current program expires December 31, 2010. You must be in an existing home to qualify and it must be your primary place of residence.
After exploring all our options, we decided to install a new system. Thanks to the rebate and tax incentives, we were able to select a 95 percent energy-efficient, variable-speed furnace and air conditioning system (it made financial sense to invest in and install a new air conditioner at the same time, because our old one was installed at the same time as the spent furnace). Our gas usage has noticeably dropped on our monthly utility bill, so we are satisfied with the choices we made.
Until later…The Home Know-It-All