How to choose a heating/cooling system
Arming yourself with the facts can help ensure you find energy-efficient equipment to help cool and heat your family’s home. It’s important to know how vital features in your home function.
To keep cool, one option is a central air conditioning unit that cools rooms thermostatically throughout the entire house.
An air conditioner’s efficiency, performance and durability are important things to consider.
Make sure you buy the right size air conditioner for your needs.
Another option is an evaporative cooler, also called a swamp cooler. In low-humidity areas, evaporating water into incoming air provides a natural and energy-efficient means of cooling.
An evaporative cooler is a completely different type of cooling system that works well in hot, dry climates. They cost about one-half as much to install as central air conditioners and use about one-quarter as much energy.
However, they require more frequent maintenance than refrigerated air conditioners and they’re suitable only for areas with low humidity.
A furnace draws air inside a heat exchanger, which warms the air with electric coils or a flame of natural gas, propane or fuel oil.
A blower sends the heated air through the home by way of metal ducts, and the air travels through a register or grill in the wall or floor.
Indoor air is recirculated through the system, and an air filter traps pollen, dust and other airborne particles.
The ultimate in home comfort is the automatic hot water heating system, also known as a hydronic system.
The heat source is a boiler fueled most often by oil or gas, with a certified efficiency rating. A small pump circulates heated water through baseboard units, radiators or in-floor radiant tubing in each room, where warmth is distributed evenly without fan noise or blowing air.
Hydronic systems are economical, reliable and comfortable.
Remember, the lowest price might not necessarily be the best price. Evaluate the contractor’s proposal to ensure that you get the equipment and service that meets requirements. Paying more money might save you in the long run.
Heating and cooling equipment include two costs: the cost of operating the system and the cost to purchase it.
An old, inefficient heating or air conditioning system adds to your monthly heating and cooling costs.
Remember that some of today’s air conditioners use 30 to 50 percent less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners manufactured in the 1970s.
The most efficient systems on the market now can be 70 percent more efficient than older models.
Ask the contractor to inspect ductwork for leaks, incomplete connections and compatibility with the rest of your system. Leaks should be fixed using a quality duct sealant.
In some cases, ducts might need to be modified to ensure proper supply and return airflow.
Make sure you obtain a written contract and check warranties to ensure your air conditioning and heating system will be protected for years to come.