The Four Main Areas of Whole-Home HVAC Design
If you have a central HVAC system, which you probably do, it’s important to know basic HVAC design principles. Choosing the right size unit to fit your home’s needs is just as important as choosing the right HVAC contractor to install it. Learning how to adjust the thermostat and getting your air ducts sealed and insulated are other ways to improve efficiency with HVAC design know-how.
A whole-home HVAC design approach takes many factors into consideration, including:
- Local climate
- Appliances and other large electronics
- Square footage
- Windows and doors
- Natural lighting (daylighting)
- Heating and cooling needs
- Indoor air quality
- Water heating
All of these things can be adjusted to make your home healthier, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient.
Read more about HVAC design and how to incorporate this important information into your home.
While HVAC design can get very complicated, it can be divided into four main areas:
1. HVAC Sizing
Unfortunately, most HVAC systems are improperly installed (ENERGY STAR). This is mostly due to oversizing the unit.
Since many HVAC contractors simply replace the existing HVAC system with a similarly sized one, the end result is a system that doesn’t fit the home. This causes energy inefficiencies, comfort issues, and other problems.
When hiring an HVAC contractor to install a new HVAC system, make sure they follow Manual J guidelines or something similar. If the installation contractor doesn’t fully measure your home and insulation/ventilation levels, they aren’t gathering the necessary information for sizing your new system.
Additionally, an oversized system will cost more and might not be able to properly heat and cool your home.
2. Thermostat Settings
Your thermostat is the device that sends and receives commands from your central heating and cooling system. In order for your thermostat to operate properly, thermostats should be installed completely level and away from heat sources, such as sunlight, lamps, and heat-producing appliances.
While programmable and “smart” thermostats can save you money and energy, they are only as effective as how they are used. If you don’t properly program your thermostat or don’t program it at all, they are no better than analog thermostats.
Follow the Department of Energy’s recommendations for programming your thermostat for maximum savings:
3. Air Ducts
One important part of your HVAC system that is neglected is your air duct system. According to the EPA, the average home loses around 30% of its conditioned air out of air leaks in the ductwork. It’s highly recommended that you seal and insulate your supply and return ducts.
Sealing and insulating air ducts is especially important in unconditioned areas such your attic and basement.
While it is possible to seal and insulate your air ducts yourself, there are often many areas that are unreachable. If you want save the time, energy, and money on your own duct sealing and insulating, call the professionals.
Ideally, all duct connections will be sealed before any insulation is added.
4. System Efficiency
Heating system efficiency is rated by the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). Cooling system efficiency is rated by the seasonal efficiency is rating (SEER). The higher the number, the better the performance.
Your heating system’s efficiency is measured by its annual fuel utilization efficiency ration (AFUE). Your cooling system’s efficiency is rated by its seasonal efficiency ration (SEER).
The higher the number, the more efficient your HVAC systems. Your HVAC system efficiency rating is only part of the equation. If your system wasn’t installed properly in the first place, not only could you void any manufacturer warranties that may be in place, but the accuracy of your efficiency ratings will be severely compromised.
Mastering HVAC design principals is easier than you think. Work with trained technicians and professional HVAC designers who know that the details are the most important to longevity and comfort.
Pacific Air Systems is your HVAC design resource; call us for more information on how to get the best performance out of your home’s HVAC unit, beginning on Day 1 of installation.
For more information on how HVAC design, read these articles:
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