A Short Guide to Choosing an Energy Efficient HVAC System
HVAC systems contribute in a large way to your monthly energy consumption and utility bills. As such, it is best to opt for the most energy efficient system when installing a new unit or replacing an old one.
This will not only help reduce your monthly costs but also provide additional comfort indoors. HVAC systems that are rated high in energy efficiency are costlier than systems that are not very energy efficient. But even if you have to spend a little extra initially, the long-term benefits of such systems are manifold.
Here is a short guide that can help you understand and choose the correct energy efficient HVAC system for your Northern California home requirements.
- Size of the system
On site load calculations are important to determine the size of the system you would need. One size cannot fit or be suitable for different types of houses. Conducting a room by room cooling load calculation helps determine your requirements and gives an accurate figure as factors like direction, sunlight, floor height and size of each room make a difference to the load calculation.
Buying an undersized or oversized system will actually put a lot of pressure on it and result in malfunctions or excessive wear and tear; not to mention high energy bills.
- Energy efficiency ratings
It is important to understand what energy efficiency numbers on different HVAC models denote and how to look for efficiency using these ratings. The Seasonal HVAC Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) denotes energy efficiency of the system based on a seasonal average. A minimum SEER rating of 13 is required by the US Department of Energy, in all new systems. Top efficiency rated systems have a SEER rating ranging between 20 and 28.
- VRF systems
VRF stands for Variable Refrigerant Flow. The variable speed compressor in these systems runs only at the required capacity based on current conditions, hence conserving energy. This provides higher energy efficiency. VRF systems have multiple small indoor units or air handlers with individual controls to help achieve optimum heating or cooling in all rooms of the house without using too much energy. It is also a noiseless system.
- Smart thermostat
Smart thermostats offer flexibility in terms of temperature control, zoning and time schedules for heating or cooling. This helps save a lot of energy, as usage depends on various factors. Smart thermostats, also known as digital thermostats, or Wi-Fi thermostats have remote connectivity, so, you can control indoor temperature even when you are away from home.
- Regular maintenance
No matter how energy efficient or high rated your system is, regular maintenance is required to keep it running in top shape. Scheduling preventive maintenance and cleaning at regular periods of time will keep the parts of the system running smoothly, reduce wear and tear, avoid pressure on the coils and compressor and provide efficient heating and cooling. It is also helpful in detecting minor damages or leaks in time, before they turn into expensive repairs or require replacement of components.