HVAC systems can last for over a decade, but that doesn’t mean you should always rely on the same system for more than 10 years. From energy efficiency to smart device integration, there are plenty of arguments for Sarasota homeowners to replace an aging system. Here are seven reasons to upgrade your HVAC system.
Aging HVAC System
HVAC systems don’t last forever, but the average system has a lifespan of about 15 years. Air conditioners typically need replacing about every 10 to 15 years, while furnaces tend to last for 15 to 20 years. Thermostats can last up to twice as long as the rest of the HVAC system, but their frequent innovations and relatively low cost means that homeowners replace thermostats much more often than necessary.
One of the quickest ways to age an HVAC system prematurely is to neglect to maintain it on a consistent basis. Regular preventative maintenance is necessary for any HVAC system, and without it, the system will never run efficiently. Changing air filters, monitoring refrigerant lines, cleaning condenser coils, inspecting ductwork, repairing steam traps, and other maintenance tasks ensure that an HVAC system runs smoothly and operates at an optimal level throughout its life.
Keep in mind that even though the furnace and the air conditioner might not need replacing at the same time, it’s often in your best interest to take on the entire project at once. Purchasing a complete new system all at once ensures that all of the components will work together, and you can often save on labor costs when you upgrade the entire system at once.
Reduced Cooling Load
When HVAC professionals design systems for residential homes, they take into account the home’s cooling load, or amount of thermal energy that an air conditioner must remove from an interior space in order to maintain a comfortable temperature range. Though it’s entirely possible to calculate a precise cooling load for each individual home, not all contractors do. Instead, many rely on what’s known as a rule of thumb, or a more general relationship between interior space and cooling needs.
The rule of thumb produces relatively accurate cooling load calculations for many homes. If you’ve made efforts to improve your home’s energy efficiency or tighten the building envelope, however, your home’s cooling load may be significantly lower than the rule of thumb would suggest. In this case, it’s important to get an exact cooling load calculation, since this figure largely determines the appropriate size for your home’s air conditioner.
An HVAC system that’s too large for your home suffers from inefficiency, excessive wear and tear, and a shortened lifespan. For these reasons, reducing your home’s cooling or heating load is a good reason to consider upgrading to a new, more appropriately sized HVAC unit.
Improved Energy Efficiency
Many older HVAC systems simply aren’t energy efficient, which means they constantly waste energy while simultaneously driving up your utility bills. Systems produced more than 10 years ago are prime candidates for an upgrade to a more efficient model. When considering a new system, make sure it meets Energy Star standards. This energy-efficient program ensures that all endorsed appliances exceed federal standards for energy efficiency.
In addition to replacing the air conditioner or furnace, be sure to ask your HVAC pro to take a look at the ductwork as well. The average HVAC system loses about 20 to 30 percent of the energy it generates as a result of leaky ductwork. Many HVAC technicians have experience inspecting and repairing cracks and insufficient seals in ductwork, an additional task that can help your HVAC system save a significant amount of energy.
Enhanced Indoor Air Quality
In addition to cooling and heating your home, one of the HVAC system’s primary jobs is managing your home’s indoor air quality. An HVAC system does this by providing adequate ventilation throughout the home, keeping humidity at an acceptable level, and filtering allergens and other harmful particles out of the air. Bad indoor air can contribute to allergies, asthma attacks, respiratory problems, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. Since people spend an average of 87 percent of their time indoors, maintaining clean, fresh indoor air is critical.
Dated HVAC systems can’t always keep up with today’s indoor air quality demands, and not all older units are compatible with add-ons like whole-home dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and ventilators. To ensure that your home’s indoor air quality is essentially free of pollutants, allergens, and harmful airborne chemicals, consider investing in a new HVAC system and any indoor air quality components that meet the unique demands of your home environment.
Zoning System Modifications
Older HVAC systems typically comprise a single zone that extends throughout your entire home. That means the unit constantly works to cool your whole home instead of just the rooms or zones that need cool air the most. Instead of going for the traditional whole-home approach, consider dividing your home into several different cooling zones that you can target individually. Zoning is common throughout larger spaces and commercial buildings, and it’s an energy-efficient solution for residential homes as well.
An HVAC professional can modify some older units to work as zoning systems, but with such extensive work involved, it often makes more sense to upgrade to a new HVAC unit specially designed to work as a zoning system. Zoned units require the air conditioner, ductwork, and thermostats to work together to regulate each area of the home. Essentially, each zone has its own dedicated thermostat, and all thermostats connect to a central control panel. The panel then opens and closes dampers in the ductwork to direct cool air to the appropriate zones.
Since zoning systems allow you to direct cool air only to select areas of the home, it’s easy to close off other zones that don’t get as much use. By only conditioning what’s necessary, you can save significant energy.
New HVAC System Design
Sometimes a conventional HVAC system demands a total redesign, especially if it no longer provides your home with adequate cooling power. Many homes, for example, would benefit from targeted cooling much more than they would from a whole-home cooling system. Ductless air conditioning systems, also known as mini-split systems, offer a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution.
Ductless systems feature a single outdoor unit and as many as four indoor air handling units. These units don’t require ductwork and instead rely on a short length of conduit that runs from the outdoor unit to the indoor air handling units. By removing potentially leaky ductwork from the equation, ductless systems are naturally more energy-efficient than conventional air conditioners.
Each indoor unit is responsible for cooling a designated zone, so a ductless system is also effectively a zoning system. A separate thermostat controls each ductless zone, so it couldn’t be easier to target more heavily used rooms or areas for more intensive cooling. Since you never have to pay to cool less-used rooms in your home, a ductless system can also help you save on utility costs.
Smart Device Integration
As smart technology continues to make HVAC and other household appliances more convenient and energy-efficient, it’s important to make sure your system works with smart devices. Some older HVAC systems are compatible with new devices like smart thermostats, but be sure to consult with an HVAC pro before making a purchase. To ensure that your entire HVAC system is as energy-efficient as possible, consider installing a new Energy Star unit along with a compatible smart thermostat.
From allowing you to program an efficient cooling schedule to making automatic adjustments based on the weather forecast, a smart thermostat can completely change the cooling landscape in your home. Though all smart thermostats require your input during their initial setup, many models quickly learn your cooling preferences and schedule and can automatically cool your home in a matter of weeks. You can also control your home’s HVAC system from anywhere with a smart app, making the smart thermostat a top HVAC system upgrade.
Is it time for you to upgrade your HVAC system? Call the HVAC pros at Aqua Plumbing and Air for an expert opinion: (941) 306-3715.
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