Energy costs are headed upward and in the not too distant future, paying your heating and cooling bills may seem like carrying a second mortgage. Installing additional insulation and energy efficient windows might help the situation or you might want to consider upgrading your HVAC system to keep your energy costs under control, but before you take those drastic measures – are you getting the most out of your current HVAC system?
Tweaking your HVAC System for Better Efficiency
The calculations were used to size the home’s supply and return vents and the floor plan determined their best locations. Those calculations provided a good starting point for ensuring the house’s first owner received an HVAC system that conditioned the interior of the house efficiently, however, everything may have changed as soon as a family moved into the residence.
Furniture placement, window treatments, and how your family goes about living their daily life can affect the performance of your HVAC system and before long you may notice that some rooms are too warm while other parts of the house seem impossible to heat. Don’t panic – in most cases, you don’t need any large scale repairs, all that’s needed is a system tweak.
A Balanced HVAC System
If you’re having problems with your HVAC system heating or cooling your home properly, ask a contractor to come out to do a system balance. New homes sometimes have one trip by the HVAC contractor to balance the heating and cooling system included in their warranty.
The HVAC contractor will use a meter to determine airflow at each supply register and use trunk line dampers to increase or decrease airflow as needed. If your ductwork doesn’t have dampers, they may recommend they be added – which is typically a fairly easy and inexpensive task. In some cases, the contractor may suggest adding supply or return vents to rooms that don’t respond adequately to airflow adjustments.
The One Zone Dilemma
One of the most common HVAC problems many homeowners encounter is uneven heating and cooling distribution in a multi-level home with a one zone system. A one zone system means that one HVAC unit with a single thermostat is working to maintain the temperature at different levels of the home. If you have a situation like this and the thermostat on your main level is set at the temperature you desire, there’s a good chance that your upper floor or finished basement will always be too cold or too warm depending on the season.
It can be difficult for an HVAC contractor to alleviate this condition with manual ductwork dampers as you may wish to adjust the temperature to the level you happen to be using. In this situation, the contractor may suggest adding an electronic damper to your system — this allows a second thermostat to be added to the upper or finished basement level of your home. The electronic damper permits you to direct airflow away from the level not currently in use and keep the temperature perfect where you are.
In extreme cases, your contractor may recommend adding a second HVAC system to your home. Asking an HVAC contractor to balance your system is a great way to ensure you’re getting efficient performance from your system and don’t forget to keep your filters clean.