Let’s face it, some products in this world are so specific that it can feel like you’re ordering Starbucks for the first time. You may go into a home improvement project thinking you know what it is you want and need. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
From doorknobs to plumbing fixtures, seemingly small pieces have very complicated designs and specifications. The same is even more true for large appliances such as heating and air conditioning units.
1. Square Footage
The number one factor affecting the size of your home’s HVAC system is the total square footage. If you choose too-large a system, you will be wasting money on the purchase, but if it is too small, it will use more energy and overwork itself in a shorter amount of time. Energy Star appliance tend to work well at a 1-ton per 1,000 square-foot ratio.
2. Local Climate
Regions of mild climates are less reliant on heating and air systems than areas of wider temperature ranges. In conjunction with your thermostat’s set-temp, the weather affects the performance and efficiency of residential HVAC units. In moments of extreme heat or cold, avoid the urge to play with the dial as the wrong temperature setting will overtax your system and waste energy.
3. Humidity Levels
Air conditioning units are built to manage humidity within the home, but they can struggle in moments of extremely moist or dry air. Particularly hot and humid days will cause your AC to work harder, while the dry air of colder days will require more energy to heat the interior of your home. Humidity also allows dust and debris to collect on the exterior components of your unit and should be sprayed off with a garden hose now and then.
4. Insulation Factors
The quality, age, and rating of your home’s insulation greatly impacts the efficiency of air conditioners and furnaces. Temperatures are constantly trying to even themselves out from one space to another. This means that hot air will move into colder regions of your home, while that colder air is trying to mix into the warmer areas. Effective insulation will keep this air from escaping into unneeded crawl spaces and attics. Fewer windows and more roof coverage from trees also help insulate your home.
5. Heat Production Elements
A number of variables can affect the temperatures inside your home and, therefore, the overall amount of energy the HVAC unit will use for its heating and cooling. The more occupants living in a structure will cause higher temperatures due to the natural production of body heat. Likewise, larger windows that face the afternoon sun will allow more heat to enter those spaces and older homes will have more gaps and crevices allowing heat and air to escape more freely.
Don’t waste your time and money on the wrong HVAC unit. Do your research and speak to a professional to be sure you are getting the right capacity system to keep your home comfortable without risking higher energy bills or future repair costs.