Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

New Heating System Help!!!

Ken1 Member Posts: 18
Hi Folks,

I'm a new home owner and want to do the best for me and my family. I live in the northeast, 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. 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!!!



  • Ken1
    Ken1 Member Posts: 18
    One more thing...

    One thing to add to my last post - the second guy who recommends the hydronic system says that I will be able to heat both my house and water with this system, thus between that and the ability to zone, this is the better bet.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,477
    It is really your decision

    based on how much you want to spend. The cheaper would be just a new high efficiency furnace and be done with it. If however you are going to add zones then one furnace would probably not be able to handle the load.

    It sounds like you want to expand the coverage of the heating system to include the attic and eventually the basement. In that case it would be better to go with a boiler sized to handle all the requirements you are placing on it, hydro-air, baseboard and an indirect water heater. Price wise this will much more expensive but will give you the diversity you need. Make sure a heat loss is done. I assume if you are going with air handlers (hydro-air) you are going to have air conditioning, if so make sure the coil in the air handler is sized for both heating and cooling. It would also be a good idea to have the duct work insulated. Add to that new windows and blown in insulation and you could have a very efficient system. Add to the boiler setup Outdoor Reset (ODR), talk to your installer about heat loss and Outdoor Reset and get his take on all that.
  • Ken1
    Ken1 Member Posts: 18

    Thanks Tim for the good advice!
This discussion has been closed.