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Force air furnace, hydronic system w/forced air combo or complete hydronic system????
I currently have a forced air gas furnace heating system with a 26 year old furnace. This heats my first and second floors, but I have no duct work up to my third floor finished attic. I would also like to have the option to heat my basement which is unfinished, but I use. My basic question is if which of the three options I should go with for a new heating system in my house: 1) Simply replace the furnace; 2) Install a hydronic system, using an air handler to blow forced hot air through the existing ductwork and be able to bring baseboards to the third floor and later the basement; 3) install a complete hydronic system with baseboards on every floor.
Any input would be great!
For the longer story:
I'm a new home owner and want to do the best for me and my family. I live in the northeast (Boston), where it gets very cold (especially this winter) in a victorian house built in the late 1800s. I have a gas furnace with a forced air heating system in an approximately 2000 sq. foot home. My furnace is from 1985 and is running at 75% efficiency. I currently have no zones (or one zone), and vents on the first and second floors but not on our third floor finished attic. I have no insulation in my house, but will be having the basement sealed and getting blown in insulation in all the walls next month and will insulate the attic knee wall in the near future.
I am now looking into getting a high efficiency heating system and perhaps an on demand water heater. I have gotten two quotes with VERY different suggestions, and would love some help!
Quote one: install a lennox high efficiency (95%) furnace in place of my current furnace, and install an on-demand water heater. Use my current duct work, don't zone and call it a day. This is with a very reputable company that guarantees their work for the first year and then covers all parts and labor for $200 a year thereafter.
Quote two: is from an independent licensed plumber and hvac person. He has suggested that while I could simply replace the furnace and install and on demand water heater, he would suggest that I use hydronic heat and either install baseboards (more expensive, but best heating option), or install a air handler and use the hydronic system with my existing ducts for floors one and two, and run piping to the third floor for heat there. He said that he can also size out the system so that I could add baseboards to my basement, which is unfinished, but I use for a music studio and have plans to finish in the future. He said that this system will also heat the water for my house. Again, this is from an independent, small business man. As a result, he probably has less overhead and can probably give me a better price, but I guess there is some comfort in going with a big company.
Any thoughts on which heating system to go with?
Any thoughts on if it is better to go with the big company or the little (but professional) guy. Both are licensed and insured and we will be pulling permits either way. I will also be paying for this through a heat-loan program so proposals and technical details will have to be submitted either way in order to get the loan.
Thanks so much!!!