When we moved into our current home, a short sale fixer-upper, we had an inspection to ensure the house was in working order and major appliances like the furnace were not going to break the second we moved in. However, a lot happens in a home from the time we had our inspection in November to the time we closed on our short sale in April. One thing that unfortunately went bad was our furnace.
We has been living in the house for nearly a month before we had my uncle, who is a mechanical serviceman by trade, was in our basement and informed us that our furnace was leaking gas. It needed to be shut off immediately. Thankfully it was summer, so we had time to save up a little money for the initial payment of the furnace.
Lucky for us, my uncle shared the secrets of the trade and told us how we could get the furnace for next to nothing. Here’s how we did it:
There’s no avoiding the initial cost of a new installation. Fortunately for us, my uncle graciously installed the furnace for little to no labor costs, so we only had to pay for the unit and parts. However, that still ended up totaling $2,400. It was quite the hit to our budget, specifically since we already had to replace several other items in our home prior to this unexpected expense.
Our town is serviced by Nicor Gas. My uncle informed us that there are several rebate programs in effect, and fortunately for us, Nicor was running one of them. The rebates run from $200-$300 based on the level of efficiency on the furnace model you install. We decided to go mid-grade efficiency (95% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for two reasons. First, my uncle told us there are problems with the 97% AFUE models as they are relatively new and don’t have all of the kinks worked out yet. Second, the rebate difference between installing a 95% and a 97% AFUE model was only $50 – quite a bit less than we would have spent to upgrade to the higher model.
We ended up getting a $250 rebate from the gas company, based on our model selection. Additionally, come tax season next year, we will get another $150 from Uncle Sam, making our total investment just $2,000 after rebates.
Believe it or not, a high efficiency furnace not only saves you on your gas bill, but it also saves you on your electric bill. My uncle estimated that with our new model, we should expect a savings of approximately $300/year in our gas bill and another $100/year in our electric bill, due to the more efficient fans using less electric. That said; after just five years, our initial $2,000 investment ($2,400 less the $400 rebates) will have paid for itself. With a warrantee of 10 years and an estimated life expectancy of 15, we figure we actually saved ourselves more than $4,000 over the life of the furnace.