Efficient Design – Updating your HVAC System

Making your home more sellable is always recommended, even if you don’t plan on selling. You can always enjoy your upgrades and certainly show off to friends, family and acquaintances. However, in today’s economy it’s a little tougher to upgrade your home all the while keeping your wallet thick. As so, it’s important to remember to improve the areas of your house that will yield the most value. This includes things like the roof, siding, windows, insulation and most importantly furnace.

HVAC System

Your heating/cooling system not only adds value to your home, but the more efficient the unit, the more you’re liable to save in the long run. You see, your HVAC system is responsible for about half of your energy bill so if it is nearing the end of its life, it may be time for it to be replaced or improved. If your current system has been maintained, you change the filter regularly, and your energy bills are still skyrocketing, you probably should consider making a change.

Why it is Important to Update:
The primary reason to upgrade your HVAC system is to lower energy bills. With a simple replacement of your old system with a new one, you will see substantial savings in energy costs. Typically, the extra cost to buy and install the new system is recouped within the first year with lower energy bills.

Another reason that newer systems are better is they will break down less often and are easier to maintain. Some systems will identify problems so you can fix them before the unit fails.

Lastly, more efficient models have less of an impact on the environment. When less energy is used the emissions are fewer and that is better for the planet. For example, replacing an old furnace or boiler with a new one that is rated at 90 percent efficiency can save one and a half tons of CO2 emissions yearly for gas-fueled models and two and a half tons for oil-fueled models.

How Much Can You Save?
The average savings with new heating and cooling equipment is around $200 a year. Of course, there are many variables that can affect this figure, like the climate where you live or how well your home is insulated. Keeping your HVAC system maintained will also help it run at peak efficiency.

What type of system you get affects this figure also. For example, a geothermal heat pump can save up to 70% of energy costs. ENERGY STAR heat pumps will be about 20% more efficient than older models and 9% more efficient that new models that are not ENERGY STAR qualified.

Ways to Update Your HVAC System
Heat pumps are a very good choice if you live in a moderate climate and you could see savings of up to 45% over a baseboard heating system. Heat pumps may not be a good choice if you live where it gets very cold as their efficiency drops as the temperature goes down.

Even though a geothermal heat pump is expensive to install, it would be worth it with future energy savings. Besides that, your carbon footprint would be smaller as a geothermal system has no emissions at all.

Another option is a radiant floor heating system. This uses a boiler that heats and transfers water to pipes under the floor. Heat circulates into the room with infrared radiation so no blowers or ducts are needed. Radiant systems are costly to install but more efficient than other systems. A room heated with a radiant system will have warm air everywhere, rather than hot air at the ceiling and cold air on the floor. Also, heat can escape through the ducts of other systems and this wastes energy.

Furnaces and boilers have had many improvements made to help them be more efficient. These include electronic ignition, sealed combustion chambers, and blowers that are more energy efficient.

Lastly, an upgrade that can make a big difference is sealing and insulation ductwork. It is estimated that 20% of your heated air could be leaking out of loose ducts. When the blower is on, that figure could rise to 70%. If you do this on your own, make sure that you do not use duct tape, but use mastic and mesh tape.

By Erik Braunitzer, and courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company, agents for NYC Apartments.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm |

    An HVAC system at home is no less than a breaking news, both need to be updated.