What is HVAC? It stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. When buying a new home, this is an important component of the total package. What type of heating and cooling system should you choose? A qualified professional will help you make this decision, and it helps to know the types of systems before having this conversation.
Forced Air Systems
There are two types of forced air systems. One is a split system, which is the most common by far. This is where there is a unit indoors (usually the furnace) and a unit outdoors (usually the air conditioning unit). The second type is the package system, where the entire system is outdoors. The cost of these systems, including parts and labor are about the same so you'll want to discuss with a qualified technician the difference and which system is best for your home.
Efficient HVAC systems can also be split or packaged. Heat pumps move air around - warm air to cold and cold to warm, as opposed to generating warm or cold air which makes them more efficient. In our cooler Kentucky climate, most heat pumps are backed up with an electric strip heater because the efficiency of heat pumps goes down as the temperature goes down. Heat pumps can cost a few hundred dollars more, but these costs will be recovered by the money you'll save on energy bills.
Another efficient system is a High Velocity System. This system forces air through small 2" piping and reduces humidity. It uses insulated materials making it quieter than traditional systems. This can be used in homes where traditional duct work has problems fitting, so it's great for smaller homes. It can be pricey but the efficiency will help recover installation costs.
The most efficient system of all is the Geothermal System, also called ground source heat pumps because they use a loop system that is buried into the ground containing a water/antifreeze mixture. Because this continuous loop is in the ground, it stays at a temperature of 45-55 degrees. Because they are the most efficient and use equipment to drill holes in the ground, these are by far the most expensive systems. However, after a few years those installation costs will be recouped and you will enjoy massive savings on energy bills.
Another type of system that is gaining popularity is Radiant Systems. Heated by boiler, Radiant Systems supply heat through walls or floors. Examples I have seen of this include floor heating in bathrooms and even a warehouse. These provide extra comfort in colder weather.
Zoned Control Systems
Zoned Systems are usually found in larger homes. Zoning provides temperature control for each zone in the house, sometimes even each room in the house. This is great when a home's occupants have different comfort levels and have conflicts over the thermostat setting, but remain in different zones. It also serves a purpose when there are rooms in your home that don't need heating or cooling all the time or can function with temperature variations, such as guest rooms or storage rooms.
Most important to note is that a builder’s warranty may not cover HVAC. In this case, the manufacturer’s warranty would apply. Be sure to fill out the warranty card and send it in so you’ll be covered. The general life of an HVAC system is expected to be 12-15 years and older systems may last even longer. Many factors can change this such as how often cleaning and maintenance is done (recommended cleaning is twice a year in the spring and fall), and the size of your duct work (if improperly sized this will make your system work twice as hard).
Other things to consider are the ratings of your units. The SEER rating is for air conditioners and heat pumps. SEER simply means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. What you need to know is that a SEER rating under 13 is low efficiency, and over 16 is high efficiency. AFUE means Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and measures a gas furnace’s efficiency, and the higher the number the better.
Sometimes the government will offer tax credits for high efficiency systems or units. Be sure to check with your tax advisor to see if any are available and how you might qualify before having a new installation. Although these credits have recently been for existing homes with switchouts, it doesn't hurt to check.
We hope this information was helpful to you. If you have any other questions about new construction homes or homes for sale in Louisville, Kentucky, call our New Construction Specialist Brenda Doll at 502-639-3903.
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