Depending on where you live, keeping your home cool in triple digit heat can become very costly and challenging. It helps to have a good understanding of your home’s HVAC, (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning), system. Your home’s HVAC system pumps air to and from every room in your house through a system of vents, ducts, and filters.
Understanding your home’s HVAC system and how it works can help you understand your entire home better, which can help you with preventative maintenance and keeping your cool during hot summer months and heat during cold winter months.
Understanding Your Home’s HVAC System
The thermostat is probably the component of your HVAC system that gets the most attention. This little console controls the settings of your HVAC system so you can change the temperature, and in newer models, even program your heating and cooling settings to your own specifications. As an added bonus, a programmable thermostat will save you money throughout the year.
HVAC systems are heated using a number of different means. Typically, your heating system is based on an electric, natural gas, oil, or even steam component.
The air is heated via a heating element or furnace, and once the air has reached the designated temperature the heating component is automatically switched off and will switch back on automatically if the air needs to be heated more.
Once the air is warmed to the appropriate temperature, it is pushed out into the ventilation system by use of a fan.
The compressor has multiple functions. It is the method by which your system pumps air into the system in order to be heated or cooled. The compressor is responsible for cooling. To cool, the compressor pulls refrigerant into a system of coils.
The compressor is another one of the more visible components of the HVAC system. It is usually on the outside of your home, and you can often see and hear it running by means of a fan. The fan is how the compressor pulls air into your system.
One of the main purposes of an HVAC system is in the name: ventilation. Your home’s ventilation system is somewhat like the system of veins working throughout your body. Your entire home is connected to the main HVAC unit through a series of vents and ducts. This is how the heated or cooled air is dispersed through the house.
Depending on your specific type of HVAC system, some of the functions will vary. There are also a lot of other, smaller parts of your HVAC system that all have a function in the system that is essentially your home’s circulatory system. All of these parts work together to properly heat and cool your home so you and your family can stay safe and comfortable.
Improving Home Ventilation: It’s More Important Than You Think
Ventilation is a home improvement that you don’t hear about very often, but is still very important. Home ventilation is important, especially if you want your home to be energy efficient.
Why is home ventilation important?
Saves You Money — Home ventilation can save on energy, which directly affects your wallet. Ventilation systems can recover a great percentage of the air that tends to leave your home via energy loss. In the winter time, ventilation systems can help capture and redistribute heated air, and in the cooler months do the same for cooler air. This helps save on both heating and cooling costs.
Controls Moisture in Your Home — Excess moisture in the air can be detrimental to your home and furniture. It can cause wallpaper and paint to peel, furniture and walls to mold, mildew to occur in vents, and cause structural damage as well. A home ventilation system can help to avoid moisture build up by always keeping the air moving.
Whole House Cooling — Home ventilation systems can often be used as whole house cooling systems, which can save you tons in cooling costs. Except in the very hot months, or if you live in a particularly hot climate area, whole house cooling ventilation systems can keep your home cool for the majority of the year without spending tons on air conditioning.
Different Types of Home Ventilation
Natural Ventilation Techniques — Natural ventilation occurs through vents, cracks, and unsealed openings. You can control natural ventilation by caulking cracks, window and door frames, and other structural weaknesses. Add extra vents to keep the air moving in the direction you want it to. Also, be sure to seal up any air leaks to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Fans and vents can be added to keep air moving and help your home’s natural ventilation. While using natural ventilation techniques might not be quite as effective as specialized ventilation systems, it can save you energy and money by supplementing your existing system.
Whole House Ventilation Systems — If your home does not have adequate natural ventilation, and even adding supplemental vents and fans won’t help enough, there are whole house ventilation systems that might be exactly what you need. These ventilation systems help to move and disperse air throughout your home, and help to prevent energy loss.
These ventilation systems are easily installed, usually with the help of a professional. There are a few different types of whole house ventilation systems:
- Exhaust — An exhaust based ventilation system works by pulling the air from around the house into the ventilation system.
- Supply — A supply based ventilation system works by pushing air out of the ventilation system.
- Balance — A balanced ventilation system works on both an exhaust and supply method, both pulling in air and exhausting it.
- Energy Recovery –Energy recovery ventilation systems can be a bit more expensive to buy and install, but are the most cost effective when it comes to home ventilation. They are good about not only controlling the air and energy loss, but also control air humidity.
Improving your home ventilation system is an important and smart home renovation. You can save money and become more energy efficient with a good home ventilation system.
Keep Your Attic Cool
Attics get very warm in the summertime. So what’s the best way to beat that heat? Here are six different ways to reduce the temperature in your attic and save you money.
- Try using a thermostatically controlled roof mounted ventilator. They will help to keep your attic much cooler in the summertime. The thermostat will usually start at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature that the attic fan usually starts at.
- Radiant barrier: This is a coating material that gets sprayed onto the outside of your roof to help reduce the amount of heat that is radiated into your attic. The radiant barrier is shown to reduce about 68% of the heat that is being radiated into the attic. This will keep your attic cooler, which will reduce the cooling load on your home.
- Continuous ridge vent: This type of vent runs along the entire ridge of your roof. It is placed at the highest point of your roof so that the hot air rises to get out. However, for best results you must have sufficient vents to allow for the free airflow. The biggest downside to this type of cooling system, though, is that you must install it when you are installing either a new roof or building a new home. This type of venting won’t work properly on an already existing roof.
- Standard vents: These are the most common vents for people to have and are very effective when enough of them are installed. These vents can be placed on an existing roof, and will allow for a lot of airflow when properly installed.
- Be sure to check for restricted vents. Your vents can get clogged from dirt, rust, or insulation that was blown in from the attic. Make sure they are all open and will allow for the maximum amount of air to pass through. The best time to make these types of repairs to your attic is during the wintertime when it is much cooler and a lot more bearable to fix the cooling in your attic. Just make sure you think ahead before the summertime, because many people don’t think they’ll need any sort of repairs until the problem is already there.
- Insulate your attic. You can rent machines to blow in insulation or hire a professional to do this.
Upgrade Your Air Conditioning System
Air conditioning upgrades can be an involved process. Whether you are just upgrading, or replacing your unit entirely, you need to be ready for what is to come. Upgrading your air conditioning system is something that every home owner has to look forward to eventually, so you might as well know what to expect.
Finding a Professional
The first thing you will need to do when upgrading your air conditioning system is to find a professional technician that can help you. A professional technician is someone who is specialized in heating and cooling systems and can walk you through the process.
You want to find a reputable technician that is also affordable. The best way to find someone is to get referrals from people you know, or to use a reputable serviced based referral site. Make sure that whomever you choose is licensed and insured, and is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. You want someone that you can trust to do good work and charge you fairly.
Upgrade or Replacement
Often, when it comes to upgrading air conditioning systems, you might have to ask yourself if you just need some parts of the unit upgraded, or if you need an entire new system.
Especially with all of the super energy efficient systems available, it might be more economical to upgrade your entire unit. If your current air conditioner only needs a few replacement parts to work efficiently, however, you might be fine with just small upgrades.
Choosing whether to make small upgrades or to upgrade your entire system is a decision that you will have to make, but your heating and cooling specialist should be able to help you decide by answering questions and making recommendations.
Choosing Your New Unit
If you do decide to upgrade your entire air conditioning system, you will then have to go through the process of choosing which unit will be best for your home.
There are so many different types of air conditioning systems. They vary from the type of installation to the type of power they use to run. Your choice will be determined by your own taste as well as what kind of system will be most efficient for your home. The salespeople wherever you are purchasing your system, as well as the technician that will be installing the unit, will be able to help you make a decision on what will be best.
Definitely look into the Energy Star rated energy efficient systems that are available. Not only will you be helping the environment, but these systems can save you a lot of money.
Evaluation and Estimate
Before any work is done, your technician will come out to your home and do an evaluation. Based on what he or she finds, the technician will put together a summary of the work that needs to be done and an estimate. If you have any questions about the work, time, or cost involved, you should ask before signing the contract and getting underway.
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