Residential Heating And Cooling Systems - Not so long ago, staying warm meant digging coal or chopping firewood. These two fuels - which warm you twice, as the saying goes - accounted for three quarters of all domestic heating in 1940. Today, with gas and oil central heating, achieving indoor comfort is as exhausting as lifting a finger to adjust the thermostat .
But getting to that point is probably the most technically challenging part of any housing project. For starters, you want maximum efficiency, a fact made even more acute by rising fuel prices. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) consumes nearly half of a home's energy bill, so every percentage improvement makes a significant difference. You also want your HVAC pro to consider all factors that affect comfort - including humidity, air velocity, air quality and radiant energy - and choose equipment based on ease of maintenance and expected lifespan.
Residential Heating And Cooling Systems
Plumbing and heating specialist Richard Trethewey. Her advice: Hire reliable installers who know how to do heat loss calculations and insist on components that have received an Energy Star rating for high efficiency.
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Read on to see the key components of the state-of-the-art heating and cooling system that Richard recommends if you're building from scratch.
In cold climate regions where temperatures remain below 70 degrees for more than half of the year, Richard Trethewey recommends a single economy boiler to provide heat and hot water for maximum comfort and efficiency.
"Water transmits heat much better than air," he says. Lower floors use hot water for radiant heat; it provides heat to a forced air system above. To keep the house cool, Richard specs a traditional air conditioning system, also shown here, that uses the same ductwork used to heat the upstairs.
When a home is built so tightly that it can't "breathe," it can suffer from high indoor humidity (which encourages mold growth), high levels of carbon dioxide and other toxins (from finishes, fabrics, and non-carbonated glue). ). ) and bad smells (from cooking and smoking).
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A hybrid air exchanger (below) solves these problems by drawing in fresh outdoor air and exhausting stale indoor air. In winter, it uses the expelled air to heat and humidify the cold incoming air. In the summer it cools and dehumidifies sticky outdoor air. And while it works, it filters contaminants and odors from the air.
“Sooner or later, every home is going to need one of these units,” says Richard. He recommends connecting it to a separate duct system that serves bathrooms, bedrooms and the kitchen.
These simple devices save energy by regulating the boiler or furnace temperature in response to outside temperature changes. For example, on a zero degree day, the water in a water heater may need 180 degrees to heat the house. But on a 35-degree day, 125-degree water may be enough.
The remote reset control takes care of the adjustments, saving a heating unit from excessive cycling on and off and smoothing out the uncomfortable fluctuations in indoor temperature that come when a thermostat is in full control. Make sure your heating unit works with this type of device. "A reboot check can easily improve system efficiency by at least 10 to 15 percent," says Richard.
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A by-product of the combustion of natural gas is hot water vapor, which until recently rose through the chimney along with the rest of the exhaust gases. Due to the loss of this heat, the boilers could not achieve more than 85% efficiency. Condensing boilers use a heat exchanger that extracts heat from the steam before it can escape. "It's a giant leap forward," says Richard. "Some of these units reach 96% efficiency."
Underfloor heating has changed the way Americans think about comfort. The principle is essentially the same as an old-fashioned radiator, except that instead of heating a large piece of metal, the mass being heated is the floor itself, via hot water pipes or electrical wires below the surface. Not only is the heat gentler and more efficient, says Richard, it's also more comfortable because people prefer their feet to be warmer than their heads. "Forced air heat does the opposite. It makes your feet cold and your head hot."
Underfloor heating dates back at least to ancient Roman baths, where fire warmed the air beneath stone floors. Modern radiant floor heating uses PEX pipes, buried in poured concrete or mounted in grooved panels on top of a wood subfloor, as shown above. The same principle can be used outdoors to melt snow on a driveway or walkway.
All HVAC systems require an annual cleaning and adjustment, which is usually done in the fall by your heating professional or fuel supplier. "You wouldn't let your car run for more than a year without an inspection, would you?" says Richard. Homeowners can easily remove a log and vacuum floor vents (especially kitchen vents) at least once a year. Severely contaminated ducts may require professional cleaning.
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Richard recommends leaving 3 feet of clearance to allow airflow, prevent fire hazards, and perform annual maintenance.
“No contractor wants to hear a customer say, 'I don't have enough heat,'” says Richard. “Then they install a boiler or furnace big enough for the coldest day of the year, plus a safety factor of 25 to 50 percent. But the coldest day of the year only lasts a few hours. So now you've paid for this device which is too big 99.9% of the time. That means more frequent on/off cycles, which wear out the unit and cause incomplete combustion.”
Richard's solution: Have the contractor perform a heat loss calculation—a measurement based on a home's insulation level, airtightness, and local climate—and order equipment that will meet peak demand without safety factors. The same goes for refrigeration equipment.
Richard prefers the thick, pleated media filters with antimicrobial coatings. "All the air you breathe goes through this filter," he says. "There's no point in using the cheap one that you can see through." Replace them annually when the system is serviced.
Best Central Air Conditioning Units 2023
Get the latest news, trusted tips, tricks and DIY Smarts projects from our experts - straight to your inbox. More than any other technology, air conditioning has changed the way we live and work - and where we live and work. However, until 1993, only 68% of homes in the United States had refrigeration equipment, either window air conditioners or central air conditioning systems.
Now more than 87 percent of the homes are equipped. While the number of window air conditioners has generally declined, these units still cool a significant number of homes, especially in the Northeast, despite being noisy, intrusive, and having limited efficiency and cooling capacity. Not to mention the biennial struggle to get them on and off.
By comparison, central air conditioning is a quantum leap in convenience, quietness, and above all, comfort. With the right dimensions and installation, a split system - with both indoor and outdoor equipment - can keep an entire house well cooled on the hottest days, and much more efficiently than a battalion of windows.
Read this guide to go through the factors that affect the operation of these systems. So whether you're planning to delve into window air conditioners and install central air from scratch, or you're investing in an HVAC upgrade, you'll find plenty of useful information to help you make smart decisions.
Home Heating And Cooling
You need a professional familiar with these complicated systems. Get quotes from at least three reputable local HVAC contractors with excellent online reviews. The company you choose can very well maintain your system for years to come.
Affiliation with Air Conditioning Contractors of America is a plus; an ACCA certificate in residential HVAC design is even better. Also, make sure you're happy with the equipment a contractor sells; most have ties to specific manufacturers.
Many variables affect system pricing, including local climate, existing insulation, labor costs, and equipment size and efficiency. Here's a rough estimate of the cost to upgrade a 3-ton home system in Des Moines, IA, to one with Energy Star certification and a SEER 16 efficiency rating: $5,000, including installation.
Typical equipment warranties are 10 years. With proper maintenance, these systems should work for about 15 years before needing to be replaced.
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If a system is about 15 years old when an expensive component like an evaporator coil or compressor fails, it's probably time for new indoor and outdoor equipment. Replacing one but not the other will likely reduce system performance.
Simply put, split cooling systems remove heat from a home with refrigerant circulating between the condenser and the air handling unit.
Supply ducts distribute the cold air from the air handling unit to rooms in the house. Return ducts return hot air to the air handler to be filtered and cooled. When properly sized, ducts deliver conditioned air evenly and quietly throughout the home.
Each room needs at least two of these grilles: one connected to a supply duct and the other to a return. Ideally, supply blocks should be on or near the ceiling, and return blocks on or near the floor.
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This internal equipment has an expansion valve that turns the refrigerant into a cold liquid.
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