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Michelle's Forum Posts: 15

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By Michelle in San Bernardino, CA on 6/1/2007


I received what I think is an excellent bid for two 20 SEER systems for my two-story house. Heating, condensers, coils and everything included came to $21,850. My first bid was $3,000 less but it was for two 14 SEER systems. So my question is, would it be worth it for me to pay the extra to get the higher-rated systems or is that just overkill? I am using two systems to separate upstairs and downstairs so I'm not sure if going with the higher rating would really benefit me. Any suggestions or experience here would be helpful.

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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 6/5/2007


The answer to your questions is not an easy yes or no. You have two systems, two different prices, but you have only compared your initial capital costs and not your ongoing costs of operation, or your periodic costs of maintenance. Only when you put all of these costs together can you determine which system is truly the best investment, as frequently the least expensive initial option is the most expensive over the life cycle of the unit. However the most expensive initial option is also not the least expensive over the life cycle either.

Your 20 SEER units will clearly save you operating costs over your 14 SEER units. However your 20 SEER units will probably cost more in both routine annual maintenance (more complex) and periodic something broke maintenance (parts are more expensive). Is it worth the $3K investment to upgrade to these, only if it pays you back in a reasonable amount of time. You have to account for what else you might be doing with that $3K as well.

For reference, when I ran the numbers several years back I found it most cost effective to opt for the less efficient models, as any efficiency with reduced operating costs was offset by the increased maintenance costs. However I was only using one system, and the upgrade from a 14 SEER (base was 10 SEER at the time, best life cycle value was 12 SEER, I used a 14 SEER) to a 20 SEER was pretty significant. Perhaps the technology has improved and prices have come down on the more efficient units?


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