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New Heating System Needed/New Home Owner - 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. 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!!!


  • James Day_2
    James Day_2 Member Posts: 191

    As far as efficiency goes,  hydronics are always more efficient than air.  I have had forced hot air, hydro coil heat, baseboard heat and radiant in my homes.  Radiant by far is the most efficient and comfortable.  Baseboard would be my second choice.  Where in the northeast are you located?  Whoever does install the system make sure a proper heat loss calculation is done.  Do not let anyone give you BTU size based on your square footage.   
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997

    I to like the idea of hydronic. It give's so much more room for the future. Use an air handler now for your existing system, get an indirect for your HW needs and then add baseboard in area's as you can and remove the duct work as you go. Size of a company does not alway's make a better install. Check for references on both and see who has the best..

  • heatech
    heatech Member Posts: 5
    its up to you

    what do each of the contractors say about eachothers system? first youre doing the right thing by insulating. efficency not only comes from your heating system but your entire structure. comfort would be my next issue. leaning twords the boiler (preferably a condensing with outdoor reset technology). with raising fuel prices efficency would be my next concern. dont look at just the combustion efficency but how the entire system preforms. when you do choose a contractor ask for their credentials and maybe some customer feedback. this is a major investment. take your time and do the reserch. if you do go with an on demand waterheater be sure to have your water quality checked if it hasent been already. the same goes with the boiler. next to poor quality installations the next killer of the boiler is water quality.   
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