Upgrading The HVAC System In Our Old House

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Trane Residential. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

We’ve made lots of changes throughout our house over the past two years. Some of the changes were cosmetic – like fresh paint and new trim – and others were not quite so glamorous  – like repairing the tuckpointing on our brick. Today’s improvement isn’t the most stunning before and after I’ve ever shared, but it’s one of the most essential parts of our home – our HVAC system.

Our Old HVAC SystemOur HVAC system in our closet

When we bought this house, we knew that the current HVAC system was old. Or really, I should say, systems. We have an HVAC system in the basement that controls the basement and first floor. And then we have another HVAC system in a closet on the second floor. Both were over 20 years old and both had seen better days.

Side Note: HVAC = Heating, Venting, and Air Conditioning. It’s the entire system that heats and cools your home.

Our old air conditioners outsideWe get our HVAC systems serviced every year and the repair guy would always remark on how we should really prepare ourselves to replace them soon, so we knew that this upgrade was looming.Our old humidiers

We’ve also really struggled with the humidity in this house. Our HVAC systems had humidifiers on them that were completely non-functioning. We even had someone out to repair the humidifiers who basically said they don’t make those parts anymore and we were better off getting new humidifiers when we upgraded the entire system.Our old HVAC system in the basement

During the winter, it gets so incredibly dry in this house. We ended up buying portable humidifiers to put in each room of the house to try to prevent the floors from separating, the doors from getting sticky, and our skin from getting dry. They helped, but filling up humidifiers and cleaning them every day gets old fast. Functioning, whole-home humidifiers would be a welcomed addition to improve our comfort and save us time.

If you’re wondering if it’s time to upgrade your HVAC, Trane Residential has a handy little $5,000 rule that you can follow. Trane Residential experts say, “Take the age of your equipment and multiply that by the estimated repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000 then consider replacing your unit. If less, you should probably repair it. For example, a system that is ten years old and has a repair cost of $300 = $3,000. It’s probably right to repair it.” Hearing this rule of thumb was really helpful! Trane Residential also has a repair or replace tool to calculate this for you, which is handy if you’re like me and hate doing math!

Getting QuotesOur old HVAC system

Our backyard renovation finally prompted us to get new HVAC systems for our home. We knew we would have to move our old air conditioners with the new backyard layout and just moving our old ones would cost thousands of dollars. We figured we might as well get new everything and we could place the units exactly where we wanted them in the new yard.Getting bids to replace our old HVAC system

We had three local companies come out to give us quotes. It’s always a good idea to get various bids for your project so you can get a sense of the overall cost and the work involved. In the end, we decided to go with a local company called Besco Air. You can find a local installer through the Trane Comfort Specialist Program right here.

Choosing Trane ResidentialChoosing Trane for our new HVAC system

Besco Air suggested going with Trane Residential units for our home. Trane Residential has been in business for over 100 years, and their products are built to last for a long time. Since our units were so old, they weren’t at all energy-efficient, and they used a lot of power to produce less than stellar results.

Trane Residential products meet rigorous Energy Star standards, which means they have high energy efficiency ratings; they can lower energy bills, and decrease your climate impact. That all sounded great to me!

The Installation ProcessThe installation process for our new hvac system

Because we have two units, it took two technicians two days to complete this project. On the first day, they completely replaced the upstairs HVAC system and one of the air conditioners in the backyard. They finished the rest of the work on the second day. It was a big job to remove it all and get the new ones in, but they did fantastic work!

Our New HVAC SystemOur new HVAC system on the second floor of our home from Trane

I’m happy to say our new HVAC systems are up and running and our house has never felt better! We ended up going with two of these XR13 air conditioners from Trane Residential. As for heating, we chose two of these XV80 gas furnaces.

The Air Conditioner DetailsHVAC system and air conditionerFinding a new spot for our air conditioners

First, let’s discuss the placement of the A/C units. We wanted to place the new units in between the fence and the deck so they would be out of the way and as hidden as possible. This was really the only good spot for them on our property because we didn’t want them to interfere with our side yard. Air conditioner placement in our backyardThere are rules on how far away from the home, a fence, and each other the units can be. We worked with the install team to find the optimal placement to follow code and still get them hidden away. The second air conditioner bumps out from the deck a bit, but once we have the stairs and the landscaping in, this should be a non-issue. Our new air conditioners from Trane

As for the air conditioners themselves, these are so quiet compared to our old ones. We tried to never have our old air conditioners on if we were hanging out on the deck because they were so loud and you had to shout over them. These are much less noisy, which we’ll really appreciate when we finally get to enjoy our new patio space!Our new Trane Air conditioners

We’re also expected to save 42% in energy costs with these new air conditioners from Trane Residential. It makes me happy knowing we put these in at the start of summer, so we can use them as the months get hotter and hotter and still save on our energy bill.

The Furnace Details

Our new furnace from Trane

Here’s a look at the furnace on our second floor.

And here’s a look at the new furnace in our basement. Our new furnace from Trane

We haven’t used the heating just yet because it’s been hot here in Chicago, but I’m really excited about using this part of the system come fall. This XV80 furnace from Trane Residential is a variable-speed gas furnace. I had no idea what that meant before chatting with the technician.

Essentially, it works in two stages. The first kicks on at about 50% to help heat your home, so it uses less energy and isn’t very noisy. If it’s really cold out, it will kick up to 100% capacity to get your home to the correct temperature quickly. For the most part, the furnace will usually only need to stay at the first level in order to keep your home comfortable.Our new HVAC system from Trane

We really struggled with our old one going on and off all day long. It was noisy and the temperature was uneven. This should solve that problem and leave us with a consistent flow of comfortable air.

The Project CostOur new hvac system and two air conditioners from Trane

A new HVAC system is definitely an investment in your home. Our two new HVAC systems (2 furnaces, 2 air conditioners, 2 humidifiers) and the labor cost us about $19,000. It’s definitely a big chunk of change, but we knew it was worthwhile for the comfort of our home. Plus, this upgrade was going to have to happen at some point. And we thought it was better to do it on our own terms, instead of in an emergency, if our old ones broke down. I’m also looking forward to saving money on our energy bills with the new energy-efficient units.everything you need to know about upgrading your hvac system

While the cost may vary based on where you live and the labor near you, I think it’s important to share real-life numbers so you can budget for these important purchases accordingly! I had no idea what a new HVAC system might cost for our home until I started doing some research and getting quotes from local companies.

Enjoying Our Comfortable HomeHVAC system and air conditioner from Trane

It’s been a hot month here in Chicago and it’s always nice to come inside and feel comfortable. I’m happy we finally made the upgrade to our HVAC systems. Sometimes it’s those behind-the-scenes projects in your home that make the biggest difference.


Catch Up On Our Backyard Renovation

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.