Home extensions are wonderful things. They give your family more space, you can design them pretty much exactly how you want, and for most people, the planning and saving will take so much time that they will feel a personal sense of investment and accomplishment. But make no mistake, there is a lot of mental work to make sure everything about your new addition works as it should. Today we’ll talk about heating and cooling options.
Extending might not be the answer
You might have thought that you could extend your existing ductwork into the addition, and yes, that is sometimes possible. But it could be too inefficient or expensive. As home improvement columnist Paul Bianchina puts it, “[f]or all but the very simplest of small duct extensions, you’ll need the help of an experienced heating contractor to make all of the complex calculations required to size and balance the system.”
Another reason to update is that some systems in older houses might be so obsolete that few HVAC technicians are willing to work on them. Steam heating was popular in houses and apartment buildings in the early 20th century, and some still use them, but there are few technicians still servicing them, and you don’t even know how long there will continue to be any at all.
State of the art
One thing most technicians would agree on is that you might as well get the most modern system in your budget. Recent systems are sometimes more expensive upfront, but are highly efficient over the long term and add value to your home while they’re at it. Two that you might consider for your home addition are radiant floor heating and an air source heat pump.
Radiant floor heating runs a coil under your floor, either an electric one or a hot water one. The heat rises from the floor, leaving no cold spots, like an ancient Roman hypocaust on a more compact scale. Installation requires picking up the entire floor and then putting back, but as long as you’re putting in an extension, that’s a good chance to put it in. It can give you nearly maintenance-free heating and usually comes with a 30-year warranty. Unfortunately, it can’t provide cooling, so perhaps…
Air source heat pump
The magic of a heat pump’s efficiency is that it transfers heat instead of generating it. A process of sending a refrigerant from the liquid to the gaseous phase and back again as it circulates enables the system to leach thermal energy out of the outdoor air, even if it’s cold, and dissipate inside. In hot months, it does the opposite, gathering warm air inside and dissipating it outdoors. These systems get less efficient the colder the climate you live in, but for most of the continental U.S., they are a great option in the long term.
In the end, capacity
Whatever option you go with – extending the old system or putting in one of the options for new systems – you need to make sure it’s the right capacity. There are tools online that can give you a rough idea, but to be fully sure and have peace of mind, you need to consult a heating and cooling professional. Making the wrong calculations yourself could be an expensive mistake.
Twin Air in Manassas serves the whole Northern Virginia area and is ready to help with any questions you may have heating and cooling in your new home addition, including capacity estimates and system options. Give us a call at (703) 754-1062 or get in touch on our website.