Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac system

How to Choose the Right HVAC system for your home

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

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, Uncategorized

Tips to save money on your new HVAC system

Buying and installing a new HVAC system is a daunting expense and investment no matter how necessary or worthy it might be. Depending on your reason for getting a new HVAC system, it may or may not be the best financial season for this big purchase. As we all know, sometimes your HVAC system must be replaced as a matter of safety. In the hottest and coldest months, you need a dependable system–often it’s simply not an option to wait it out for more affordable timing.

As an Exxel Mechanical customer, you’ll have several financing and rebate options to consider as you face replacing your HVAC system. Check out these options below: 

Financing

At Exxel Mechanical, we love to assist our customers who desire financing with a perfect option for their new HVAC system. As a partner of Foundation Finance, we can offer financing same-as-cash value up to $75,000 for a year, or a fixed rate for up to 12 years (dependent upon the buyer’s credit score). If you are interested in pre-approval for one of these options, you can follow this link to fill out an online form.  

Rebates 

Rebates are another great way to save on a new HVAC system in Maryland. As we provide service in Winfield, Maryland, Frederick, Westminster, Owings Mills, and the surrounding areas, we want our customers to be aware of the specific Maryland programs that offer rebates for energy efficient systems.

The BGE Smart Savers Program and the Potomac Edison Empower Maryland programs offer $300 rebates for electric central air conditioners with at least 16 SEER and 13 EER, and $500 rebates for electric central air conditioners with at least 18 SEER and 13 EER. 

The programs also offer rebates for heat pumps: provide $400 for electric air source heat pumps with at least 16 SEER, 13 EER, and 9 HSPF; $650 for electric air source heat pumps with at least 18 SEER, 13 EER, and 9.5 HSPF; and $1,500 for geothermal heat pumps with at least 17.1 EER and 3.6 COP. 

If these descriptions of SEER, EER, HSPF, and COP levels are like Greek to you– don’t worry. Our professionals at Exxel Mechanical can explain anything about an HVAC system that interests you. The bottom line is: if you are purchasing a new HVAC system, choosing a more energy efficient system will not only save you money on your monthly bills, but can also  provide a great opportunity to save money up front through a rebate. 

Saving you money

After securing your safety and that of your family’s, saving you money, and getting you the most value for your dollar is Exxel Mechanical’s priority. Call us today at (443) 821-1040 and ask how you can save on your new HVAC system. 

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, HVAC replacement

When is the best time of year to replace my HVAC system?

We suggest you not break up with your sweetheart before Valentine’s Day. We also think getting a flat tire the night before a road trip is ill-advised. 

And to anyone going through HVAC system issues in the dead of summer or winter, we obviously do not recommend an HVAC system replacement during those times of year. You’ll not only be in dire need of said HVAC system; but also HVAC companies are at their busiest during these times. 

Of course you can’t always choose when you’ll have to replace your HVAC system. But, if you’re taking the proper maintenance measures, (link to how to avoid emergency HVAC repair article) you’ll know what shape your HVAC system is in, and hopefully avoid an emergency repair or replacement. 

Do I need to replace my HVAC system?

HVAC systems typically need to be replaced between 10 and 20 years old. With regular maintenance you can extend the life of your HVAC system, but it’s also true that older systems are simply less efficient and may be costing you more to run. If your energy bills are high, you are continuing to put money into your system with repairs, or you’re facing an especially expensive repair, these may be signs it’s time to replace your entire system.

What time of year should I replace my HVAC system?

If you’ve reached a juncture where your HVAC system has been needing many repairs recently, or you know it’s old and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later, it’s best to plan ahead. An HVAC replacement in early or mid-fall, when temperatures are moderate and you’re less likely to need your HVAC system, is ideal. Additionally, by planning ahead, you won’t be in a desperate situation when working with different companies and getting quotes. 

Schedule a visit with one of our professionals or call for a quote! 

If you give us a call, we can help you get some clarity on your situation by sending one of our professionals at Exxel Mechanical to check out your system. They can advise if you need a full replacement or if there is a simpler repair that can extend the life of your system. If you already know your system needs to be replaced, we’ll be happy to give you a quote or schedule a time– perhaps in the fall or spring– to get that entire system overhaul you need.

Categories Uncategorized

3 Tips to Prevent an Emergency HVAC Repair

HVAC systems are like romantic partners: a little attention goes a long way. If you want to avoid drama, as in emergency HVAC repairs, taking a little time to maintain your HVAC system can help prevent issues that might otherwise arise. 

1. Be attentive to the sounds, monthly costs, and general condition of your HVAC system

Awareness of what your HVAC system should be doing is one of the best ways to take care of it. This includes knowing what sounds your HVAC system typically makes when operating, how much it typically costs to run per month, and generally knowing what is normal and what isn’t. That way, if you hear abnormal noises or the bill shoots up for no good reason, you will be alerted to these abnormal occurrences and will know to call a professional to check out your unit immediately.  

Some other examples of attentiveness include monitoring the way your HVAC system drains the water that it collects from the air inside your home as well as knowing what a clean air filter looks like. Checking on these conditions can help to prevent emergency HVAC repair and extend the life of your HVAC system.

2. Get your HVAC system checked and serviced bi-annually  

This is advice you will find on any website or article concerning HVAC systems. Like getting an oil change and tune up to keep a car running, servicing your HVAC system regularly– at least twice a year– can keep you from needing serious HVAC service and repair or perhaps prevent an emergency HVAC system issue. 

The HVAC professional will check that all systems are working and will clean inside your unit, making sure it is working as efficiently as possible and preventing a possible system failure. Evaporator coils, drain pan and drainage system, refrigerant levels…these terms might mean nothing to you, but an HVAC expert will inspect these parts and more to ensure your HVAC unit is in tip-top shape.

3. Keep it clean & treat it nicely

Cleaning the drainpipe and the fan atop the condensing unit; keeping the area around your HVAC unit free of debris; and clearing vents inside your home are great do-it-yourself strategies for ensuring an efficient and healthy HVAC system. While your unit will most likely not stay shiny and new looking, maintaining key parts can help ensure that it is able to do its job. 

All this attention and cleaning you are doing for your HVAC system might tempt you to feel free to adjust the thermostat depending on your preferences, such as turning it up or down a few degrees when you leave the house. However, leaving it alone is often the better option. Remember: Every time you adjust the temperature, the HVAC system has to work a bit harder. 

If you follow these three tips, your HVAC system should stay healthy and last a long time. Contact us to set up an HVAC service plan today!