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Question DetailsAsked on 3/26/2016

Is it worth the money to upgrade from a Payne Hybrid Heat Package to a Bryant Hybrid Heat Package?

Models for Payne system are PH15 Heat Pump(15 SEER) and PG95 4-way multi poise condensing gas furnace (95.5% AFUE). Models for Bryant are 286BNA two stage heat pump(19 SEER) and 987MA variable speed fully modulating condensing gas furnace (97% AFUE). House size is 4000 square feet. There is only one zone. The unit size is 4-ton. The cost difference is 7500. This estimate also includes upgrade to wifi thermostat. This is for a new house. Contract has not been signed. Still in negotiation phase.

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4 Answers


Worth the difference! System will last 15 years plus, saving in electric will pay you back.


Answered 3 years ago by BayAreaAC


BayAreaAC said in 15 or less years it will pay you back. For $7500 initial investment, over his reasonable (or somewhat optomistic for heat pump) 15 years assumed life and assuming say at least 5% value of your money (or 5% loan rate to pay for it in house loan more likely), your fuel savings would have to be about $708/yr to justify the extra cost - over half the TOTAL fuel bill for a normal household's heating and cooling cost. Since the two furnaces have very little efficiency difference and since you need furnaces with a heat pump system you are in a cold winter area so don't get year around heat pump benefit, the vast bulk savings of that would have to come out of the A/C savings.

Since the average air conditioning bill in the US is less than half that amount, let's look at the energy savings of the two AC/heat pump systems against each other. You are looking at a 21% A/C electricity reduction with the upgrade, so to save 21% the investment should be worth at least the $708/yr difference in cost. That would mean a total air conditioning bill ($708/0.21) at the lower efficiency of $3371 - more like a commercial building billl than a house. By comparison, average A/C electric use in the US is $280/yr, $480-550 in N and S Florida respectively, and $800 in Texas - a FAR smaller number. (Numbers from Energy Information Administration)

So - your payback would be expected to be only a maximum of maybe 25% unless in the Mojave desert or south Arizona or such, and for full payback you would have to get savings of about or over 100% of your total A/C bill - not possible unless you never turn it on.

True, you should run the calcs using both electric and gas savings, but no way it is going to get into the ballpark even if in Alaska with those two furnace efficiency ratings being so close - the savings $ just cannot get big enough to come close.

I can't see any way that $7500 will ECER pay itself back - this is a classic example of higher efficiency not paying off. Considering you need furnaces that means you are not in a year-around air conditioning region, so your savings will be even less. I would sit down with a loan repayment web calculator (which is applicable for this), figure your 5-7% loan rate (whatever you figure to get on house loan), check local A/C and electric usage numbers or percentages for your area, and run the numbers yourself. I can't see how the $7500 upgrade cost (given that the upgrade amount is more on the order of what I would expect for TOTAL installed cost for those two systems) will ever pay off for you even if you live in that house till the systems die. And of course, the average person lives in a house around 6-8 years before moving and never sees the bulk of the benefit of high-efficiency units - so it works out on the average though buying a house with very high efficiency units can save you money IF you don't pay up for them, installing them in a house yourself seldom pays off.

BTW - why the WiFi thermostat cost (though typically not more than around $500 to add to modern system) - most people play with web/cell programmable thermostats for a week or two, then go back to standard daily or weekday/weekend seetback programming and touch it maybe at the major season changes - commonly not at all. And an interesting study of programmable thearmostats showed that with those people who do mess with them constantly (very few do), the average energy efficiency went DOWN over 10% - so I would say go with a $50 Honeywell 7 day hardwired thermostat with setback and call it good. Saves you money both ways.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


The higher end Bryant thermostat is needed for proper communication with the furnace and outdoor unit. The wifi feature is a few bucks more than the non-wifi unit so don't even think of saving the dollars as you will be sorry you made that choice. DO NOT install this high end system without the OEM thermostat. Repeat, DO NOT install this system without the OEM thermostat as it performs blower calibration through ductwork testing routines. I would look at the Carrier Infinity system and I am surprised a 4000 sq ft home would be able to get by with a 4 ton condenser and a single zone. If you are splurging on comfort, do it RIGHT!

You only get one chance to do the new home correctly so get a couple different sets of eyeballs on this before making a decision.

Do yourself a favor and think about zoning upstairs/downstairs through damper control or get two smaller systems installed for redundancy and zoning. If you are finishing a basement then you will definitely want zoning control.

Carrier has the COOl CASH rebate going on now that will save you up to $1600.00 or so. Don't forget the federal tax credit if applicable to your situation and look for local utility rebates for the heat pump.

Answered 3 years ago by Guest_98024861


Guest's comment brought up another thought - if you get an architect's mechanical designer or an HVAC company that actually "designs" rather than just "sizing" your HVAC system, there are a number of things you can do to get better air distribution and balance through the house. These include:

1) using multiple zones off a central air system - commonly the most efficient and "normal" - starting with simply running different branch runs of the main air handler duct to the different "conditioning environments" - which can be different branches to different floors, or in south-facing houses with lots of windows sometimes to north versus south facing rooms. Simplest approach starts with manual regulation of airflow using manual dampers at the branch split or by regulating airflow room by room with adjustable registers.

2) This can be made advanced by using different thermostats on each floor and then electrically controlled dampers in the ducting to regulate how much air goes to each branch - which can be further refined within a branch by manually setting register openings. Not a major cost to go to that step.

3) This can be bumped up a level by individually regulating registers with individual thermostats - there are electrically controlled adjustable registers now.

4) Or enchancing coverage in one area which has signficiantly different conditions with secondary thermostats or humidistats controlling a recirculation fan to increase airflow through a specific high-humidity or high-temp area. This is particularly useful in high-humidity areas like basements where you can tap off the feed duct to provide air to the basement to increase airflow and remove humidity, taking the airflow right back to the main duct with the more humid air at almost the tap point using a scavenger fan, so that higher humidity is injected into the air feeding the rest of the house. In high-temperature area the same thing can be done with the return ducts, recirculating some of the return duct air through the basement to dissipate some of the airflow heat in the return duct to the cooler basement before returning it for cooling by the A/C. Of course, such a method can sometimes need a humidistat in the system to keep from causing such high humidity that you get into mildew/mold growth conditions.

5) This recirculation method can also be used independent of the central air system in areas that are adjacent to but not part of the "conditioned space" to reduce the temperature imbalance across walls which can add heating or air conditioning load. For instance, it can be highly energy efficient in certain situations to pull roof-warmed attic air through a filter and independent fan to circulate it through the basement, both to remove humidity and to heat the basement, then vent that high humidity air outside - basically getting the heating of the basement for free down to as low as about 40 degree outside air temp in areas with good solar heating of the roof and attic.

6) One critical thing for new construction or modification jobs is getting the ducts properly installed - low-friction bends, proper sizing and distribution splitting per the ACCA manuals (so using an ACCA member company is a good idea to get a generally higher standard of design), using rigid rather than flexible ducting, insulating the ducting where appropriate (generally all ducting running in or outside walls/ceilings/floors that form the boundary of the conditioned area), making sure (and this is a very common area where workmanship is sloppy) using seam sealer in the joints as they are assembled to prevent unintentional losses or short-circuiting of conditioned air, and DEFINITELY NOT allowing 'panned joist" ducting, where the floor or attic joist space is used as an air passage in the HVAC system without ducting. This is just a waste of energy because of the significant losses of conditioned air to places you do not want it to go - not to mention the extra dust you pick up from overlying floors that are carpeted and dribble dust into the airflow.

Certainly in your case a single zone for that size house, especially if spread out or multi-story, would be a major design flaw - and if a builder proposed that I would demand a more expert designer do the design of the system. Proper design will get you a LOT more for your $ than a higher efficiency system will.

One thing not previously mentioned - is your house being built to a specific energy standard ? Going to a reasonable level of insulation and air tightness (without going overboard) will also get you a much higher return on your money than a less efficient house with a more efficient HVAC system - plus using a post-construction but pre-closing energy efficiency rating test actually PROVES that you got an efficient system, whereas with an HVAC system unless you get specific performance testing done on the completed system you have no way of knowing if you actually got the efficiency that you paid for.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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