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water heater-cost to direct vent? (NJ clean energy prog)

9 years ago

Hi, I will try not to be long winded. Our AC blew a few weeks ago, and is not worth fixing. The house is over 17 years old, and surprisingly the original builder's grade system has held up pretty well. But there is no point in trying to salvage the furnace at this point. Luckily, it's Sept and mild here in NJ so I have the luxury (hopefully) of a few weeks before we have to act. Right now, everything is disconnected as the hubby and various contractors have had at it.

So far, I got 3 estimates (I'm not even going to count one because it was from a high-pressure sales company and was not remotely what we were looking for). One was just an estimate for the furnace and AC for about 8K, and company #3 did an energy audit and qualified us for the NJ Clean Energy HPWES program. We got that estimate today, and I about fell over. Originally, they totaled about 18500 total, with 10K coming from a 0% loan, 5K in rebates and 3500 OOP. This was for a Lennox system. After some back and forth this morning, they also gave us a price about 1K less for a Goodman system. None of the energy measures were broken down as to what % they supposedly save, but one thing I did not want to bother replacing is the water heater. It works fine, and it seems a waste to replace. On top of that, (though he only "estimated" the breakdown), 2800 was for a new water heater. In part, this was theoretically to get us over 25% but I have no way of knowing how much this nearly 3K water heater contributes to that. My guess is not much. We could also get a 4K rebate for being over 20%, so really even if removing that water heater takes us to 20%, that would still take 1800 or so off the cost.

Here's my issue. I have a very hard time seeing how a water heater can possibly be 2800. Mind you, this is only a 7 year warrantied heater. I see some energy star WHs online at HD etc for under 900, so he tells me the rest is labor.....2K worth? Mine is a little older and will eventually go, but why replace what's not broken? Well, the other issue is that when they tested the WH, they told me it is not venting at all, which is some problem related to my chimney. The fix for that would be trying to figure out the problem and re-lining the chimney, but I was told by the salesman that even with that, once the pressure in the house is re-balanced, it may not meet requirements. The chimney would need relining to keep the current WH anyway, he tells me because it currently shares the chimney with the furnace, which itself will now have to be direct vented. So, he tells me that the cost to run the additonal electric, and install the direct vent is why the WH is so expensive. Now, our current WH is currently right up against the basement wall that a new one would vent to-which would involve going through the concrete block, but likely with not much space needed to run-a handful of feet up and out. This is in an unfinished basement that abuts the garage wall, where the electric panel is. I assume they will just run another outlet for this WH, since I am reading online that they basically plug in. I feel as if we are being way overcharged on both the WH and the furnace/ac, so I am getting other estimates. But reading other customers' experiences here, it seems that this is par for the course with this program and these companies acting as if we are benefiting so much from these programs that they can just overcharge. Frankly, I would not even care if I had nothing OOP, and with all the overages I suspect I am being charged for, I believe I would be a little under the 15K allotted. But I really can't find any info online about the cost of converting to a DV water heater. Can anyone tell me if this price seems way out of whack?

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