I know that I should replace my old furnace –

My gas furnace is over twenty years old and showing its age. When my husband and I bought our house, the heater was already installed and not in the greatest shape. We planned on replacing it as soon as we could afford it. Unfortunately, every time we’ve managed to save up some money, something has gone wrong. We’ve needed to put on a new roof, buy a new washing machine, put tires on the car and pay plumbing repairs. I’ve tried to be conscientious about keeping up with professional maintenance and air filter changes. Despite my efforts, the furnace no longer provides as much heat as it once did. It needs to run for much longer cycles to handle the demands of the weather, and the house sometimes feels chilly. Every time the furnace turns on, it makes a strange screeching noise and I always expect it to quit.  Although the heater continues to perform, it’s costing me a tremendous amount of money in energy bills. I am concerned about safety issues, and I’m convinced that it’s polluting our indoor air quality. My family often complains of stuffy noses and headaches, and we seem to sneeze and cough more often. I believe a new furnace would pay for itself in energy savings. Modern gas furnaces now achieve up to 98% AFUE ratings, are protected by better warranties and tend to be more reliable. They are more environmentally friendly. We’ll probably need to take out a home improvement loan or take advantage of financing through the HVAC contractor to pay for the new furnace. I am reluctant to get involved in such a huge, disruptive and mess project, but I know that it’s necessary.