HVAC Sizing: Why do a load calculation?

A whole new vocabulary greets those who want to purchase a new HVAC system. Instead of seeing the normal housing “square feet” metric, people are likely to see measurements in “tons.” These are not the same tons that semi-trucks are hauling on the freeway. It’s a measurement of the cooling rate, and it’s about equal to 12,000 Btu/hr. To properly size an HVAC system, the buyer needs to determine how the home or office building loses and maintains heat.

Since HVAC may seem like a complicated new world, new HVAC buyers might be tempted to use a ‘rule of thumb’ to determine the size of their HVAC system. These “rules” can be as simple as holding up a cut-out to the home. The hole that the house fits within is labeled with a ton amount. Other people will recommend a certain number of tons per square foot. This method is slightly better because it takes into account the weather conditions for the local area. However, there are disadvantages to using a rule of thumb.

Using a ‘rule of thumb’ is like going to the store and picking out a shirt in your size without trying it on. If you are usually a medium, it’s a good bet that a medium shirt will fit you. But, in some stores, a medium can be too tight to fit around your chest or so loose that the shirtsleeves go down to your elbows. Without accounting for the unique contours of your body by trying it on, it’s possible that you can buy the wrong size. An improperly sized HVAC system is like an ill-fitting shirt; it does the job, but it doesn’t do it as well as it could. For example, an over-sized HVAC system doesn’t de-humidify the air as efficiently during the summer.

The secret to purchasing the right size of HVAC system is to take more factors into account. Like the unique contours of your body, your home or business has unique characteristics. For a building, the unique characteristics are the materials used for the construction. Are the walls made of brick or siding? What type of insulation was used? How many vents are in the floor? The doors are made of what type of material? These characteristics (and others, such as your location) are used in a Manual J load calculation, an industry standard method to determine the HVAC size for a home or office building.

With the internet, it is possible to do a Manual J load calculation yourself. There are many sites dedicated to the task. However, they do assume that you have the basic information about the materials used in the construction of the building. Many homeowners don’t know what type of siding or insulation they have (or where to find it). If you don’t know what ceiling type you have in your home, it’s probably worth asking a professional to complete a calculation (according to Manual J or another method). A trained technician can quickly assess the location.

An HVAC is a long-term investment, often heating and cooling a location for decades. Isn’t it worth it to get the right size for maximum efficiency?

How to Maintain Your Heat Pump for Adequate Efficiency in Cold Temps

Heating System

Heating System

A heat pump can be effective in keeping you warm, if sufficient maintenance and care is applied, especially during the winter months. If regular maintenance is not conducted, then you may experience higher-than-usual electric bills. In addition, you may have to spend more money on repair. So be sure to consider ongoing heat pump maintenance as part of the preventative measure to having an efficient system. Yes, there are minor things that homeowners can do with their heat pump equipment, but for the most part, it would be more beneficial to hire a HVAC contract to provide regular maintenance or to handle the technical issues deriving from a much larger problem.

Air Filter

To make sure that you heat pump equipment is performing at its optimum level in the winter season, it is important to replace the air filters. Over time, the air filters will get dirty and this can greatly decrease efficiency, resulting in subsequent damage to the heating system. A HVAC contractor will ensure the appropriate fitting and accurate size of your air filter. These air filters have to be changed at least one time during a three month period.

Programmed Thermostat

Use a thermostat that can be programmed so that you can set schedules of heating to save money on electricity when you really don’t need any heating. A programmed thermostat will also help to run your heating system more efficiently. Choose the right programmable thermostat that will give you the most value.

Air Ducts

Make sure that your air duct is not leaking. If it is, then you will lose energy. A HVAC technical will seal the air ducts found in places like your basement, garage and attic. The technician will also check to make sure that your registers are installed properly. It is best to have your heating and cooling system serviced during the fall months in order to prepare for the cold.

Air Flow Increase

Be sure that the air duct system in each room comprises of a supply register and return register. Many homes do not have enough return registers to facilitate good air flow and so the result is lack of energy efficiency. With only one return register, the air flow will be obstructed with diminished air circulation, pressurizing some areas in the home. Improve the air flow in your home by cleaning the return ducts and the coils in your heating system.

Conclusion

Nine times out of ten, you may need a HVAC contractor to make sure that you have an efficiently working heat pump. Your contractor will also ensure that the heat pump equipment was properly installed in the first place. So, don’t wait until something happens. Call a HVAC company today for proper maintenance and installation of your heating system.

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