Need new heat pump
I have a gas furnace with an outside ac unit (Bryant) that is nearing 19 years old. The upstairs unit (Heat pump only) went out last winter and I replace both the outside unit and inside air exchange handler.
I purchased a Payne unit upstairs but I'm beginning to wonder if that was a smart choice. I've read a lot of posts where that is considered a low end arm of Carrier. It is a 13 SEER unit that has performed fine so far.
Now I'm thinking that since the downstairs requires more heat (since heat rises), would it be better to switch to a heatpump/gas setup.
My questions are:
1. Would the air handler need to be replaced if a heat pump is installed? (Isn't this shared with the gas furnace now?)
2. Would it be wiser to spend a bit more for a better brand since this unit will probably run more (work harder) than the upstairs unit?
My current utility bills are not outrageous. Monthly gas is $59 year round and electric is $125 year round.
3. Do I even won't a heat pump downstairs or just rely on the gas unit?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
FYI: I live in the Greensboro,NC area so winters are not too harsh here.