Buying a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system can be daunting. The terminology is unfamiliar and making a mistake can be costly. Most equipment lasts a decade or more, which means that property owners rarely have to delve into the buying process. A qualified HVAC professional from Comfort24-7 will guide you through an analysis of your space, but you may feel more comfortable knowing what to expect as you match an HVAC system to your property.
HVAC Terms to Know
Let's start with an explanation of some terms that you're likely to hear.
- AFUE: The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating refers to the percentage of consumed fuel that is actually converted to heat. A 98.5 percent rating means that only 1.5 percent of the fuel escapes.
- Btu: A British thermal unit is the amount of heat that's needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree. The Btu capacity of a heating system is useful in determining the correct size unit for a particular space.
- Ductless AC: Wall-mounted cooling systems that don't require ducting. These highly efficient units are especially useful as supplemental systems or in buildings where ductwork for a central AC is impractical.
- Heat pump: These function both as an air conditioner and heater by transferring warmth into or out of the indoor air. Depending on the model, they can be effective even when the outside air temperature hits the teens, making a heat pump an excellent choice for spring and fall heating in the Chicagoland, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan areas.
- HSPF: This stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and is used to rate the heating efficiency of a heat pump. A higher number means the unit operates more efficiently.
- SEER: The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio shows the cooling efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. A higher number reflects greater efficiency.
Evaluating your HVAC Needs
A number of factors go into choosing the right HVAC system for your home or business. It's about more than just price, fuel type and energy efficiency. Of course, if your home doesn't have a natural gas line, then your decision about fuel will be easier. A ductless system might be the right choice if your building has never had ductwork or if you need supplemental heating and cooling for a new addition or remodeled space.
Whether you're looking at a ductless AC system or a traditional central AC unit, the sizing must be properly calculated to account for the size of the building, sun exposure, the amount of insulation, the number of occupants and more. This is the most important part of the process, and you will need the help of an experienced HVAC dealer. Don't try to save money by undersizing your system. A unit that is too small for the space won't be able to keep up with the cooling demands, overworking the equipment and causing it to wear out faster. It's just as unwise to spend extra for an oversized system. A unit that is too powerful will cycle on and off too frequently, which wastes energy, hurts efficiency and wears out key components earlier. An oversized air conditioning unit may also have difficulty stripping enough humidity out of the indoor air. Left unchecked, this excess moisture could create a mold-friendly environment.
Once you know what type and size of unit you need, it's time to start thinking about your budget. Factory authorized dealers often have access to special manufacturer rebates that can trim the cost of new equipment. Energy-efficient models may qualify for special utility rebates or tax savings. Additionally, if your current system is at least a decade old, upgrading to new equipment could save you money every month on your utility bills. You will need to weigh your purchase budget against the ongoing monthly savings from today's new ultra-efficient air conditioners and heat pumps.
Features and Efficiency
Air conditioners and heat pumps can do more than just heat and cool the air. For example, people with respiratory conditions might prefer a system that works with an air purifier or air cleaner. Add a whole-house humidifier or dehumidifier for greater control over your indoor environment. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that will help you save energy and get the most out of your new system. As you compare products, also consider the sound levels, efficiency ratings and manufacturer warranty.
Why Choose a Factory Authorized Dealer?
At Comfort24-7, we know there's no substitute for consulting a knowledgeable, certified HVAC technician as you choose the right HVAC system. Purchasing from an authorized dealer brings an extra level of confidence so you can rest assured that the job is being done correctly. All of the dealers in our network are Carrier and Bryant factory authorized dealers who receive additional training and support from the manufacturers. Authorized dealers are required to meet customer service standards, undergo continuing training and stay on top of the latest developments in technology, repair methods and energy efficiency. You can't go wrong with a Comfort24-7 dealer in Chicagoland, the surrounding suburbs, northwest Indiana or southwest Michigan. We guarantee your satisfaction and comfort.