HVAC is something we often take for granted, usually provided as an integral part of any structure. Even so, units sometimes irreparably break down, or energy efficiency upgrades are sometimes a necessity. In these instances, it may be necessary to purchase and install an entirely new unit. Should you find yourself faced with this daunting prospect, here are a few pointers that will have you enjoying a pleasantly warm or cool environment in no time.
Broadly speaking, there are two considerations which must be examined before a new HVAC unit can be purchased and installed. First, consider the characteristics of your structure. How big is it, and how well is it insulated? Will your primary need be for cooling, heat or equal division between both?
The best first step when purchasing such a system is to improve these structural characteristics as much as is possible. Add extra insulation if you can, and use windows with multiple panes. Add awnings, screens and other blocks to keep heated or cool air efficiently inside the structure. While these actions aren’t directly related to the unit itself, taken together they can drastically lessen the load necessary on any unit you ultimately purchase, a move which could translate into drastic savings both at time of purchase and over long years of continued use.
The other major determining factor in which system you ultimately purchase is its source of fuel, and the efficiency with which said fuel is used. If you have a source of natural gas available, you may wish to use that over traditional heating methods, otherwise your entire HVAC system will be electrical. Which refrigerant to use is another major choice, with a variety of options available.
Furthermore, as increasing emphasis is placed on energy efficiency, tax credits and other efficiency incentives may play a major role in your ultimate decision process. Also, a variety of passive solar and other environmental techniques can be used in addition to or in lieu of traditional electric or gas systems. These are all factors which should be discussed with a qualified professional contractor.
The bulk of the cost of a new unit’s purchase and installation pays for the professional technicians who must calculate your structure’s load and, ultimately, perform the labor necessary to install the unit. In fact, the hardware itself may only be a third of the final price of the entire installation. Choosing a competent, friendly company is perhaps the most important decision one makes when installing a new system. Ideally, such a company will return to perform any preventative maintenance and other repairs on the system once installation has been completed, and will provide a warranty in addition to that offered by the manufacturer. They should also be willing to discuss all possible heating and cooling options with you before committing to a traditional installation, as well as being knowledgeable about available tax credits and other financial incentives. With so much of the final cost going toward the contractor, choosing well here could make the difference between a successful installation that works for years, and a poor one that fails constantly.
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