Do you have the right HVAC system for your home?
Homes are meant to be cozy. They’re a place to spend time with family, relax after a long day at work, and come together with friends. So, naturally, you don’t want to have to be worrying about whether it is too hot or too cold in your home – especially not when you have guests over.
Having the right HVAC system is the #1 way to make sure that your home is kept at a comfortable temperature. Each home is unique. And so are their HVAC needs.
To help you out, we have put together a complete guide to choosing the right HVAC system for your home. Whether you’re in need of a full system, are looking to replace your furnace, struggle with air conditioning in the winter, or are just looking to upgrade your thermostat. This guide has it all!
Table of Contents
Inspect Your Duct Work
Your duct work is one of the most important parts of your HVAC System. The heat and air would not be able to properly flow to the rooms in your home without it.
So the best place to start is by inspecting your current ducts. You want to ensure that the joints are sealed properly, there are no breaks in the duct work, and that they are the right size. Ducts that are not properly maintained can cost you a loss in up to 30% efficiency in your entire HVAC System.
Determine What Size Units You Need
Every home is different and so every HVAC System will be different too. In order to get the correct size units for your home, you will need to do some math to get a general estimate, though it is important to get a professional estimate for the best results.
However, you can follow this simple equation in order to determine the approximate BTU per Square Foot for your home.
1. Figure out the square footage of your home.
2. Determine the base BTU. This is measured by BTU (British Thermal Unit) – this unit measures the energy used in order to keep your home comfortably heated or cooled. In Virginia, the average BTU is between 35-45 BTU per sq ft.
How do you do the math? It’s actually very simple! Just multiply the BTU by the square footage using the following equation:
BTU x Square Foot = Your Answer
Here is a table to help you better understand how this works out. We used an average of 40 BTU per 1 sq ft for this equation, so the exact math might vary depending on your home’s actual measurements.
|Square Footage||BTU/sq ft|
|1 sq ft||40 BTU/sq ft|
|100 sq ft||4,000 BTU/sq ft|
|500 sq ft||20,000 BTU/sq ft|
|1,000 sq ft||40,000 BTU/sq ft|
|1,500 sq ft||60,000 BTU/sq ft|
|2,000 sq ft||80,000 BTU/sq ft|
|2,500 sq ft||100,000 BTU/sq ft|
There are also online calculators to help you figure out the numbers for your home!
Compare Heating Systems
Having a proper heating system in your home can save you up to 20% on your energy bill. It is important to take the following things into consideration when picking a the best furnace for your needs: the size of your home, the fuel source, and the upfront cost of the unit.
Oil: This method is one of the most effective heating options for your home. One gallon of oil is equal to about 125,000 BTU – a great rate, if you were wondering. An oil furnace costs less to purchase, but relies heavily on fluctuating oil prices across the country. That being said, oil furnaces are still one of the most common sources for heating, and not everyone has access to natural gas lines.
Natural Gas: Using natural gas for your home can be a clean air option that is less harmful to the environment than oil. While your access to natural gas will rely on your location, it is a suitable alternative to oil heating. The prices tend to be steadier when it comes to natural gas and is readily available in the United States.
Propane: There are many benefits to having propane heating for your home. The first is that the tanks can usually hold up to 1,000 gallons of propane, which is a lot! Another benefit is that you can use the same source for many appliances in your home; so you can get that gas stove you’ve always dreamed about, have warm water, and heat your home all with the same tank. So, while it might not be quite as efficient in producing BTU as oil, you won’t have to worry about maintaining multiple sources of heat for your home.
Electric: These units are usually used in homes with smaller heating areas, such as condos and apartments, or in places that have mild winters that do not require as much heating. The pros for these units include: better indoor air quality, less potentially hazardous fuels in your home, easier maintenance, and a lower chance of repairs. The price you pay upfront will tend to be inexpensive, but you will want to keep in mind your electric bill when deciding whether this is a good option for your home.
Geothermal: If you’re looking for a cost efficient heat source that is also renewable and environmentally friendly, this is the choice for you. These heat pumps are placed below ground and function using the heat that is already circulating in your yard.
This type of heating has the least amount of required maintenance and longer lifespan than the other options. A well designed geothermal system that has been properly installed can last over 50 years with little required maintenance.
In addition to this, homeowners can save between 40%-60% on their monthly energy bill. So, while you may see a large price tag upfront, you will be saving more in the long run. (Bonus: Having these systems can add to your home’s equity)
Decide on a Cooling System
Northern Virginia is no stranger to hot summers. Because of this, cooling systems will be an important part of your HVAC system. The efficiency of any air conditioner is based on something called the SEER Rating (aka the big yellow tag). This measures the amount of cooling a system gives for each unit of energy used. When picking a system, you will want to look for one that is the right size for your home as well as one with a SEER Rating that is no less than 16.
You will also want to keep in mind whether your home has ducts or not. This will automatically limit your options one way or another, so be sure to check out your duct system before deciding on a unit.
Some other things you will want to take into consideration are the maintenance plans offered, what kind of warranty comes with your unit, and, again, the special features that are available.
This is probably something you rarely notice in your home. Some HVAC systems only have one speed at which they operate while others have two or more.
What causes this? A thing call the air handler. These are what control the amount of power used to heat or cool your home. While it may seem like an obscure part of the HVAC System, it can actually help keep your home more evenly cooled and save you money each month.
Three Types of Air Handlers
Single-Stage: For anyone just looking for the most basic air handlers, this it. These only have one function and that is full blast. When you HVAC system turns on, it will run at maximum capacity until the desired temperature is reached. Once that happens the unit will shut off.
Two-Stage: As the name suggests, these air handlers have two levels of operation: Full power and Low power. Because of this, it is able to achieve more consistent temperatures throughout your home. How? When there is a larger gap in the actual temperature vs. the thermostat temperature, your HVAC system can run at full power to get you where you want to be quickly. And, for times when it is simply a degree or two off, it is able to run at a lower power. This ultimately saves you money because you are able to achieve desired temperatures using less power.
Variable Speed: These have more than two power settings and are by far the most energy efficient of the three. It can run at very low power to keep your home at a consistent temperature. Then at a medium power when not much change in temperature is needed. And, finally, at full speed when raising or lowering the temperature. Overall, these are a great option because of their quiet operation, efficiency, and because they will have less wear-and-tear.
Choose a Thermostat
This final section is probably the easiest decision to make and the one that you will use the most often. Your three main choices are between a regular thermostat, a programable thermostat, and a smart thermostat. Programable thermostats are often recommended because they allow you to set your system to run during certain times of the day. However, with the rise of technology, smart thermostats are becoming increasingly popular. The most well known is the Nest. These smart devices allow you to control your home’s heating and cooling on your phone from anywhere. If you’re looking to save money, investing in a programable or smart thermostat is one of the most effective ways to do so.
Talk To A Professional
After reading this, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of information.” Luckily, you don’t have to make the decision on your own. Twin Air, LLC has a team of experts ready to assist you in this big decision. So whenever you’re ready, give us a call! We’re here to help make sure that you are able to find the system that best meets the needs of your home.