Author Topic: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?  (Read 2557 times)

russianswinga

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 210
  • Age: 36
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Truth is just an excuse for a lack of imagination
Hi again!

We just finished refinancing our condo ($300/month savings with PMI gone and better interest rate, woo!) and finished renovating it as well to the tune of $25,000 (mostly parts, 90% of labor was my own except a tiling contractor)

So now I want to tackle any inefficiencies in my energy scenario:

-We live in SoCal. Mild winters, hot summers. Lows of 0c (32f) and highs of 43c (110f).
-Condo was built in 1982. The in-closet furnace and outdoor central AC condenser are all original. Thermostat is new and electronic, programmable $25 unit from home depot. The NEST sure looked nice, but not for 10X the price!!
-Condo is 2-story, 1250 sq feet
-All original insulation, so not that great
-All new dual-pane glass all around the house
-Gas tank water heater (original)
-Original AC condenser
-Gas stove
-Furnace stays on keeping a decent sweatshirt temperature for 2 months out of the year
-Air conditioning stays on keeping our pets alive and us cool 2 months out of the year
-8 months out of the year neither the furnace nor the AC are used at all. We just open the windows
-When either the furnace or the AC is used, our utility bill is around $90
-When we use no environmental controls, our utility bill is around $60

So the questions I have are:
1. Should we replace the aging/inefficient furnace with a new unit? $unknown thousands to be spent vs unknown savings
2. Should we replace the aging/inefficient AC coils and condenser? $5,000 to be spent vs unknown savings
3. Should we replace the aging/inefficient water heater with a tankless gas-fired system? $500 parts +200 labor for install, plus recycling fee for tank so let's call it an even $1K to be on the safe side.
4. Should we do absolutely nothing? We do not intend to stay in this condo for more than 5 years.

CowboyAndIndian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1446
  • Location: NJ, USA
    • KOWines: Deep discount wine/spirits store.
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2015, 06:02:24 PM »
#4 Do nothing.

You will not earn back the savings in the 5 years that you plan to stay here.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 06:04:04 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

russianswinga

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 210
  • Age: 36
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Truth is just an excuse for a lack of imagination
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2015, 06:04:47 PM »
I'm also thinking long-term. How much would a modern furnace, AC, or water heater add to the cost of the condo at resale time? Will I get every dollar back if I do replace them, or just part of my investment? Or should I assume I'll get nothing back at sale time and only consider my needs during my time here?

Kernel Fielding

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2015, 09:08:49 PM »
Consider #3 carefully.

If your water heater tank is vintage 1982, then it's only a matter of time (probably sooner rather than later) before it lets go and floods your condo. This happened in my house with a similar-age gas water heater tank (in a finished basement) just a couple months ago. Luckily there wasn't much water damage because we were home to cut off the water feed and only about 30-40 gallons ended up on the floor and we were able to pump it out fairly quickly - but it didn't do the walls or my nerves any good.

A $1K investment in your gas water heater tank isn't that steep (and you will also reap the benefit of lower operating cost due to improvements in energy efficiency and, also important, reliable hot water). I wouldn't try to guess how much of that $1K you would recoup at sell time, but having an updated major appliance will likely not hurt your sales prospects.

Another Reader

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4968
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2015, 09:43:18 PM »
You get almost nothing back on resale for new mechanical systems.  You would never recapture the costs with your usage.

However, a 33 year-old water heater needs to be replaced before it goes.  Do some more research on tankless - you need electricity to operate them.  If the power is out when you need to take a shower, there is no reserve of hot water available.  I prefer the tank for that reason.

daverobev

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3322
  • Location: UK
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2015, 01:24:50 PM »
#4 Do nothing.

You will not earn back the savings in the 5 years that you plan to stay here.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

This. Absolutely this.

CowboyAndIndian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1446
  • Location: NJ, USA
    • KOWines: Deep discount wine/spirits store.
Re: Energy bill: replace furnace, ac, water heater, or nothing?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2015, 01:33:19 PM »
If you are worried about the water heater leaking, put in a leak detector.

Something like this should work well.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywell-WaterDefense-Water-Leak-Detection-Alarm-RWD41/202491357