What You Need to Know Before You Buy a New HVAC System for Your Home
Modern technology has improved the comfort of the typical home in many ways. Most of us have taken for granted the numerous benefits of technologies in water heaters, thermostats, heating and air conditioning systems, and so much more. With updated HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, in particular, you can reap the rewards of energy efficiency, lower utility bills, a return on investment due to the longer lifespan of newer units, and even tax breaks.
But before you go off and buy a new HVAC system, it is essential to do your homework. In the least, you need to consider the following:
- – Heating size, capacity, and type.
- – Cooling size, capacity, and type.
- – Energy efficiency.
- – Noise levels.
- – Maintenance and indoor quality.
- – Unit costs.
What Size HVAC Unit do I Need for Heating and Cooling My Home?
To determine the appropriate size HVAC system, you will likely need to make a manual calculation. This calculation is based on square footage, your climate zone, ductwork, the number of windows in your home, the quality of your insulation, the number of people living in the home, the number of heat-generating appliances in your home, and the accessibility to sunlight.
This said, the simplest way to understand the right size for your HVAC system is by looking at your square footage. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Home Builders, the average home in the United States is 2,700 square feet. A house of that size will need an HVAC system of more than 34,000 BTUs (British thermal units). However, a home that is less than 1000 square feet will only need an HVAC system of 21,000 BTUs or less.
What is the Average Cost to Replace an HVAC System?
The costs for a new HVAC system can vary widely depending on the size. Other factors that go into the cost of your HVAC system include the need for new duct-work, whether or not you need a new central air conditioner and the cost of the furnace unit. When replacing an HVAC system with no duct-work required, costs are estimated to run between $4,820 to $9,350. If you need new ductwork put in, however, you can anticipate costs between $6,820 to $12,350. Of course, if your home is substantially larger than most, then you can assume that your costs may very well exceed the high end of both of the previously mentioned estimates.
From a time perspective, be sure to factor in about one day for the installation of a basic HVAC unit. But if your unit requires additional ductwork or has further add-ons, installation can take anywhere from three to seven days.
What Does SEERS Mean and How Can It Help Me Choose the Right HVAC System?
As you start shopping for your new HVAC system, you will likely see references to the acronym SEER. This is the standard system used to measure the efficiency of air conditioning units and heat pumps. SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and a higher SEER rating means that the unit will consume less energy. As a result, a lower SEER rating indicates a less negative impact on the environment. It is recommended to seek a unit with a score between 13 to 30. And, Energy Star rated systems will have a SEER rating of at least 14.
You may also come across some other acronyms when you are researching a new HVAC system. AFUE stands for average fuel utilization efficiency and measures the efficiency of gas and oil-fired furnaces. HSPF stands for heating seasonal performance factor and measures the heating competence for heat pumps. As is the case with a SEER rating, if you see a higher HSPF rating, it means the more cost-effective and efficient your heat pump is. An 8.2 or higher HSPF is common for Energy Star rated heat pumps.
How Much Maintenance Is Required After Installing A New HVAC System?
Once your new HVAC is installed, you will want to ensure it is properly maintained. Preventative maintenance will protect your unit from long-term damage and will help you to avoid surprise breakdowns. And because you don’t generally come into contact with your HVAC system every day like you do your coffee maker or car, it is easy to forget about it. Therefore, most heating and air conditioning specialists recommend that you sign up for an annual maintenance plan.
These annual plans put the responsibility on someone else so that you can go on living your life. In the best situations, the maintenance plan holder will contact you each year to schedule a time for the maintenance to be conducted, which means you don’t have to remember to place a call. These annual visits will help lower your energy bills, decrease your chances of a catastrophic breakdown, provide longer equipment life, ensure that the unit is operating safely, and will result in fewer repairs across the lifespan of the unit.
In addition to investing in an annual maintenance program, homeowners should be prepared to replace the HVAC air filter each month (or when the unit indicates that it is time to do so), and should be sure to keep the area around the unit clean and dry. Keeping supply and return registers free from blockages will also help keep the unit functioning properly.