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Building a new home in Longboat Key, Florida, means facing many decisions. What type of floor plan suits your family? How many bathrooms should it have? What materials should you use for the flooring, roofing, or siding? Should you coordinate every room’s paint colors? There are endless questions you’ll ask yourself over the course of your home’s construction, but one of the most important is “Which type of HVAC system should I choose?” This handy guide will make you aware of the available HVAC options and help you narrow down those options, making sure you get the best, most energy-efficient HVAC system for your budget.

Determine Your Comfort Goals

In a state like Florida, where the weather is hot and humid, few residents would choose to not have central air conditioning. For decades, central air has been the go-to solution for keeping a home cool and livable throughout the year, but modern HVAC advancements have resulted in newer solutions that may be suitable for your new construction.

For instance, ductless mini-split systems are small and flexible enough for zoning your home. This means that you can set up the air conditioning system in such a way that it affects rooms separately, allowing one family member to enjoy a cooler bedroom than another. When you have a spouse or children that disagree on which temperature is more comfortable, a mini-split system can be an ideal solution for your new-home construction.

But unless you prefer a zoned cooling system, or you’re adding a newly constructed room to your existing home, you can’t go wrong with a traditional central heating and air system. A centralized system provides consistent temperatures in every room of your home all year long, which is perfect for most Florida residents. Despite requiring regular duct maintenance, centralized systems filter your home’s air, reducing humidity levels and boosting overall comfort.

Determine Your Efficiency Goals

Most Florida homeowners want to maximize their HVAC efficiency to reduce utility costs. If saving money and energy are at the top of your list of priorities, you’re in luck, as energy-efficient HVAC systems are much more prevalent than they used to be. In fact, federally mandated regulations have upped the efficiency requirements for HVAC manufacturers, meaning that even the most affordable system on the market today is more efficient than you might think.

Air conditioning units are rated with something called a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER), which denotes the unit’s efficiency. A SEER of 13 is the minimum number you should consider when energy efficiency is your primary goal. You can also find units with SEERs as high as 16, which are even better. Being mindful of an air conditioner’s SEER, ENERGY STAR rating, and Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) are important when making that essential investment for your new home.

If you’re shopping for a conventional central HVAC system, you can also choose between a single-stage and multi-stage system. Single-stage systems are basically on-or-off systems with one level of constant heating and cooling, which can be good for homeowners in a state like Florida. Multi-stage systems, however, save more energy because they adjust the level of cooling to the desired temperature. When you combine this system with a programmable thermostat, you can maintain a greater level of control over your home’s energy usage.

When it comes to home efficiency, however, it’s important to take into account the size of your new-home construction. Your professional contractor from Aqua Plumbing & Air can evaluate your home to determine the required system size. This is done by calculating the heating load based on the house’s size, local climate, and insulation. An HVAC contractor can also help you determine whether a central air conditioner or a ductless mini-split system will work best for your preferred efficiency goals.

Consider Non-traditional Options

In addition to ductless mini-split systems, another type of unconventional heating and cooling system exists that may prove to be a good fit for your new-home construction. Geothermal heat pumps are more expensive to install than traditional central HVAC systems, but the long-term payoff is well worth the initial investment.

Geothermal technology takes advantage of the ground upon which your home was built, transferring heat from your home into the ground during the summer. During the winter, the process is reversed, and heat from the ground is transferred into your home. Best of all, geothermal heat pumps can be upgraded to provide you with free hot water for the life of the system. And since you’re using energy directly from the ground, you drastically reduce your electricity and fuel consumption, making geothermal technology one of the greenest options available for heating and cooling.

Consider the Required Maintenance and System Life Span

One issue that many homeowners fail to consider when choosing a heating and cooling system is the type or amount of long-term maintenance required. Central HVAC systems require regular maintenance and duct cleanings when necessary, so you’ll at least have to schedule a maintenance service once a year. In addition, you’ll need to change the air filters every one to three months depending on whether or not you have pets.

Although ductless mini-split systems don’t use ductwork, they still need to be maintained. Not only will you need to change the filters and ensure the outdoor unit is clean, but you’ll also need to hire an HVAC technician to inspect the system’s electrical connections, check for blockages in the drain hose, and look for refrigerant leaks. A ductless system should be treated like a central HVAC system as far as regular maintenance is concerned, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure your home’s comfort levels are always ideal.

Both ductless mini-split systems and central HVACs have a similar life span. Depending on the model, mini-split systems typically last anywhere from 12 to 16 years with proper maintenance, while central HVAC systems last from 15 to 20 years.

Alternatively, geothermal systems have a life expectancy of up to 30 years, which is one reason some homeowners consider the heftier installation price. They also have minimal maintenance requirements, which is another benefit over the previous options. With a geothermal system, you’ll need to have the air ducts checked and cleaned for the system to work properly, but the piping that runs underground shouldn’t ever require maintenance unless there’s a leak.

Consider Your Budget

While every homeowner wants the best, most innovative heating and cooling system for his or her home, costlier options are not always practical. Sticking to your overall budget during your new-home construction is just as essential as aiming for your preferred energy and comfort goals. And whatever you do, you certainly don’t want to break the bank.

Ductless mini-split systems and geothermal heat pumps cost a bit more to purchase and install than a conventional central HVAC system despite being cheaper to operate in the long run. If you’re on a tight budget during your home’s construction phase, however, you can opt for a more affordable central system now and add beneficial products to it down the road to boost your efficiency. Whole-home air purifiers, dehumidifiers, UV lamps, and programmable thermostats are just a few add-on options that can boost your home’s indoor air quality and make your central HVAC system run more efficiently.

For example, a product like a whole-home dehumidifier can be essential in the humid Florida climate where many homes face moisture issues. Controlling your home’s humidity levels is just as important as controlling the temperature when you’re trying to reach your desired comfort levels.

Deciding which HVAC system is right for your new-home construction is no easy feat, thanks to the broad array of energy-efficient options currently on the market. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your options, contact the experts at Aqua Plumbing & Air at 941-306-3715 to discuss your options. Our certified technicians can determine the appropriate types of heating and cooling for your home while offering innovative solutions at affordable prices.

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