I recently had a new furnace installed and it wasn't a pleasant experience. While I pride myself on being an informed consumer, I felt the whole process was rigged and it left me with a bad taste. The problem started when my regular HVAC company did its annual inspection of the furnace (they also do an A/C check in the spring). The tech showed me some cracks in the heat exchanger and explained that I would likely need a new furnace as repairing the existing one would be fairly expensive. He scheduled an appointment with one of the owners of the company who would go over my options (i.e., sell me the new furnace). I knew this company primarily sold Lennox products. Prior to the consultation, I did as much research as I could on new furnaces, particularly Lennox. Unfortunately, I soon realized that researching a furnace is not as easy as stereo equipment or even cars. Lennox products, probably like others such as Carrier, are sold through dealer networks and it's very hard to figure out how much the dealer cost is or even how much the MSRP is. All I could do is read the promotional literature on the Lennox website to get a basic idea of their line of furnaces. When I finally sat down with Chuck, the owner, he gave me the bad (and worse) news: repairing my 1989 Carrier furnace, which he said was no better than 70% efficient, would cost $2,500 but installing a new Lennox Elite (94.1% efficient) would be $4,500. According to the Lennox brochure, I would save thousands in just a few years with the more efficient furnace, so I opted for new. I also decided to have him install a zoning system in my house, as my house was built with only one furnace and A/C despite being about 3,500 square feet (which I think is on the borderline for deciding whether to install a dual system). Retrofitting this new zoning system meant installing pneumatic dampers in each of my supply ducts. The cost would be $3,500, but again, I was told the zoning should create some savings in future energy bills. As I signed the contract, I asked Chuck who would be doing the work and if they had much experience. He said that a couple of younger guys named Mike and Jim would be doing the install and they had finished "with honors in trade school." I didn't know there was such a distinction in trade schools, but I said okay. The whole process was to take two days. Without going into too much detail of the installation, the following annoyances and problems transpired: * The yellow energy sticker (which you often see on furnaces and refrigerators) stated that the model they were installing was 92.1 efficient, not 94.1 as advertised on the Lennox website and in the brochure. The techs (Mike and Jim) had no idea why there was a discrepancy. When I asked Chuck, he speculated that Lennox just put the wrong sticker in the box. I immediately was concerned that they were putting in a lower model than I had ordered, but the model number on the unit checked out, so the sticker is still a mystery. * The sheetmetal filter housing Mike and Jim built for the new furnace was crooked and the filter did not sit straight. Chuck initially said it was only an aesthetic issue, but after showing him that there was a gap created and that not all the incoming air was being filtered, he agreed to straighten it. * The new thermostat installed in our master bedroom (which would control the new upstairs zone) was placed only four feet off the ground--standard height is five feet. So now I have to move it up, fix the drywall, and paint. I also have to fix other drywall damage in the basement resulting from the installation of the dampers. * The new furnace is actually louder than the older one, despite the claims of "two-stage" heating, a "sealed" unit, and so on. I need to boost the volume of my TV when the blower comes on because there is more airflow noise. This could also be because of the zoning creating added pressure in the ductwork. The bright side is that everything is done and working now, but my last fear is this: what is my gas bill going to look like? I have been promised big savings, but based on my less than satisfying experience thus far, I'm thinking that the claims of saving $2,000 over three years were just sales talk. My most recent gas bill was $300 (and I don't have a gas stove, just a gas clothes dryer and hot water heater). If there's anyone here with some HVAC knowledge, here are a couple of questions: 1. In 1989, what was the highest efficiency one could expect from a furnace? As I mentioned, Chuck claimed my Carrier was 70% at best, but if it did happen to be 80% or higher, my new one won't be as much of an improvement as I was led to believe. 2. Maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic, but what would be the best course of action if in fact I see little or no savings (or even higher bills)? There are so many lines of defense Chuck could use ("maybe you set your temperature higher this year so that's why you're using more therms," etc.). Do I just live with it and chalk it up to experience? 3. Is this a typical experience in having a furnace replaced? Chuck tried to get me to replace my A/C unit as well (for another $5k) but I declined. If in fact I need one come summer, should I go with another HVAC company or are they all the same? Thanks!