You might think HVAC systems are one-size-fits-all. But choosing the right HVAC system for your home can depend on many different things. This article discusses factors like the size of your home, the climate where you live, your desires for energy efficiency, and type of system when considering a new HVAC system for your home.

Size of your home

Home size is extremely important in choosing the right HVAC system. A bigger system does not necessarily translate to higher efficiency, and often can lead to issues like using too much energy or excess of humidity in the air inside the home. 

Calculating the “cooling load” includes multiple factors and measurements which determine as accurately as possible the right size HVAC to cool your home. This measurement should be determined by professionals only. If you have the right size HVAC system, you will have better control over the temperature and excess humidity, a lower energy bill, and more effective heating and cooling cycles. If your system is too large, aside from taking up space and costing more to maintain and repair, you will certainly have higher energy bills, and heating and cooling cycles that are not efficient for the space.

Another issue that can occur specifically with cooling systems that are too large is higher humidity due to air being cooled off quickly but moisture remaining in the air. If you can perceive the humidity, this may cause you to turn the temperature even lower, or, in some cases, you might not notice the humidity, causing mold and mildew to grow in your home and HVAC unit. 

A system that is too small causing it to continually run to maintain the desired temperature can result in higher bills. It’s also possible that you’ll never achieve the level of comfort you are looking for if your system is too small for the space it is supposed to heat or cool. 

When it comes to HVAC systems, bigger is not better. When upgrading your HVAC system, it’s best to have a professional assist you in deciding on the perfect size system for your home. 

Climate

When you think about the sheer difference in temperatures between northern and southern states, especially during the winter months, it makes sense that different HVAC systems are better depending on where you live. Systems are designated as efficient for the “U.S. South,” for example, and different ratings are considered efficient depending on the area in which you live. 

In the deep south, heat pumps without a backup source of heat are a good option, because they are the most efficient and temperatures rarely if ever drop low enough to create issues for your system. In Maryland and other mid-Atlantic or in-between states, you might consider a variety of options, with a heat pump and backup heat source probably being the most efficient energy source. In the Northeast and other states that get very hot and very cold, you might consider a system that includes both a furnace and an air conditioner. 

Additionally, things like cost to install and maintain, size of your home, and ductwork in your home also impact your choice. Read on for more information about energy efficiency and types of systems. 

Energy efficiency: monthly bills & rebates  

If you are updating your furnace, consider the Average Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating and the air handler type. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel is directed to heating your home. The higher rating number equals the more efficient the system. Furnaces can be up to 98.5% efficient. 

If you are updating your air conditioner, consider the energy efficiency rating or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). 

Another thing to consider if replacing any part of your HVAC system is the air handler type you have or are considering buying. Air handlers move air around, and include single-state, two-stage, and variable speed. Single-state air handlers are the least efficient as they only operate on one speed, while two-stage air handlers are slightly more efficient. Two-stage air handlers run at full capacity when you need it, and have a “low” speed, requiring less energy, for other times. Variable speed air handlers are the most efficient because they adjust as needed to keep your home’s temperature stable using the least amount of energy of all the air handler types. 

If you are completely renovating your home, including the entire HVAC system, a heat pump which handles both heating and cooling is the most energy efficient option. For Maryland residents or homeowners living in an area that freezes more often during the cold months, you would want to either have a backup heat source or ensure you have the newer, cold climate air source heat pumps. Heat pumps are rated by Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), with ratings of seven, eight or greater considered the best performing heat pumps. 

Energy stars are another way to tell if a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner is energy efficient, which also vary by different locations with different climates. 

Choosing a thermostat can also impact how efficiently your system performs, with digital and programmable thermostats outperforming traditional analog thermostats. If you choose a digital thermostat, you will have more control over the temperature stability and speed of increasing or decreasing the temperature in your home. In terms of energy efficiency, a programmable thermostat allows you to program your system to change the temperature over time and ultimately can reduce your energy consumption and bills.

There are also rebates and discounts you can get for buying energy efficient systems. See our article (LINK) about rebates offered in Maryland. 

Type of system

You can choose between packaged, split, split ductless, or geothermal systems. 

Packaged systems are less efficient but are a good choice for smaller spaces. The unit does its heating and cooling from one system and might include a gas furnace and air conditioner, a heat pump, or a heat pump with a backup heat source. These are not the most energy efficient systems and the units are kept outside. 

A standard split is the most common system and includes a furnace and air conditioner, or an air handler and a heat pump, or a furnace and a heat pump. This type of system requires ductwork and space to house multiple units. Because you use the ducts already in your home and can use different parts, it tends to be the easiest and cheapest option, although there are a range of efficiency levels. 

Split ductless systems are common and good if you do not have any ductwork and want to easily change the temperature in different rooms. They do, however, require more space to house separate AC and heating units. While they are energy efficient, these can be more expensive and have less ability to heat below freezing.

Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient, transferring heating and cooling from the ground, though their cost is up to five times to other types of systems. Your energy bill will be greatly reduced, but the upfront cost will be greater. 

Call us

Exxel Mechanical serves a 30-mile radius of Winfield, Maryland, serving Westminster, Owings Mills, and Frederick. Our reputation in this area precedes us, as we pride ourselves on placing our customer as our highest priority. This means we not only care about saving you money, but we also care about your safety. If you think you have an HVAC emergency, call us immediately and we will send someone out to check on your HVAC system! 

Call (443) 821-1040 or email bob@exxelmechanical.com