Choosing the right heating/cooling system for your home can be difficult especially when you don’t have enough knowledge on the factors that affect the performance of a system in your home. There are some steps that you will need to do before you consider buying a system that you might have already seen somewhere. These are the following:
- Reduce your need for cooling and heating.
- Your greatest gain for reducing your need for heating and cooling is the savings that you’ll get from your bills. This will also allow you to maximize the efficiency of your system and reduce the wear and tear.
- To do this, you can improve the insulation of your home so you can keep the heat inside your home during winter. Poor insulation will result to heat being wasted.
- You can also install a programmable thermostat which you can use with most heating systems. It allows the system to reduce the heat when the night comes, or when you leave your home. You can save approximately 2 percent of your annual heating bills if you are able to set the temperature back by a degree F. You can set the thermostat to 68 degrees F during the cold season. And if no one’s home or if it’s night time, you can set the thermostat to 60 degrees F.
- During hot season, shade your home and set the thermostat to 78 degrees F. If no one will be home, set the thermostat to 85 degrees F.
- Choose the most efficient.
- The first thing to determine is the type of fuel that is available to you. You may have natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity. Remember to compare your heating options as the local rates for fuel vary by area and season. You can also call your fuel provider to obtain the necessary information.
- You can always add an air conditioner or a heat pump to your furnace if you also want a system that can cool.
- Natural gas furnace: a natural gas furnace is common in locations where natural gas is available. The rating for the efficiency of a natural gas furnace is called AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The minimum standard AFUE is 78 percent but some furnaces can have an AFUE of 96 percent. For combustion, this type of furnaces use ambient air. It should also be vented through a metal flue.
Having a variable speed motor will make you qualified for a tax credit. The motor will allow the furnace to operate in multiple stages which maximizes the efficiency of a system and provides great amount of savings.
If you already have a furnace, you can also add a central air conditioning by simply adding an outdoor compressor unit.
- Air source heat pump: an air source heat pump is a common heat pump system. It provides heating and cooling as it has an outdoor unit, and an indoor unit; thus, it is also called a split system.
The heating efficiency of a heat pump is rated by HSPF or Heating Season Performance Factor. The minimum standard is 6.8 HSPF, but it can go up to 9.5 HSPF. The rating for the cooling efficiency is rated by EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio.
If a heat pump meets the efficiency levels required and if it is installed by a tax credit- certified technician, it can qualify for a tax credit. Note that the important feature is the refrigerant charge. If the refrigerant is undercharged or overcharged, it reduces the efficiency of the system.
- Oil furnace: oil furnaces are almost the same with gas furnaces. However, the AFUE rating for this type of furnaces usually range from 80 to 84 percent. They also require regular maintenance for proper operation and maximization of efficiency.
Oil furnaces do not qualify for tax credit.
You can also add filtration systems and central air conditioning to this furnaces. Be sure to replace the filters at least twice per season.
- Air conditioning systems: to cool your home the cheapest way, just shade your house from the sunlight and ventilate it at night.
You can also shade your windows. You can place awnings to keep it from direct sunlight. Note that blinds and curtains will not work since heat is already in your home. At night, let the cool air in to cool your house. During the day, close your windows. Be sure to insulate your house properly.
If you are in need of an air conditioner, then you choose a system that has a 13 EER or higher. This will qualify you for a tax credit.
- Hydronic systems: hydronic system use hot water to provide heat to your home. It will be pumped through tubing, through an air handler’s heat exchange coil, to fan coil units that are located in each room.
- Electric resistance: electric resistance are available in placed where natural gas is not available. In highly efficient homes, zonal electric can be cost-effective. Electric forced-air furnaces are expensive and inefficient.
- Ground source heat pump: this type of heat pumps can deliver four times the energy that it consumes. However, the performance will be affected by the installation and design, and they are also costly.
To be able to take heat form the ground, this type of furnace uses about 500 linear feet of tubing. These tubing are being buried in trenches.
- Size your system: to have determine the correct size needed for you home, a contractor should be able to identify the amount of energy that will be lost, and the amount that needs to be made up by a heating system during winter. Before a contractor provides a bid, he should get the calculation first.
A rule of thumb will not work when sizing a system. This will result in having an oversized system. If you end up with an oversized unit, you will experience short-cycling, condensation in the upper parts of the flue, and many more.
- If you have a ductwork, seal your ducts: if your ductwork is not sealed properly, you will lose up to 25 percent of heat. Here are some signs that will tell you that you have leaks on your ducts:
- High bills
- Registers have drafts when heat is off
- Windows have condensation and musty odors
- Rooms are too hot or cold
You are also likely to risk your health if you have leaky ducts as they can pull fibers, fumes and dust; and they pull combustion gasses as they cause heaters, furnaces, fireplaces to backdraft.
- Proper maintenance: furnaces have inexpensive filters which should be changed regularly. Make sure that it should also be maintained by a professional every two or three years. Oil furnaces, however, should have annual maintenance. Heat pumps require a more regular professional maintenance.
Choosing a heating/cooling system can require some learning and a lot of research, but when done right, it is always worth it.