When buying a home, whether new or used, what are the things you look for? Location? Nice kitchen? Large master bath? Have you ever considered the homes heating and cooling system? If not you should. There are varying statistics on how much of the average homes total energy costs are attributed to heating and air conditioning. The DOE has the number set at 46%, if you include water heating it jumps to 60%. That means with the average American family spending $2200 per year on home energy costs $1320 per year is spent on heating and air conditioning.
There are several things to consider when assessing a home’s heating and cooling system. The type of fuel used to heat the home is a major consideration when bracing for the energy bill. Propane is much more expensive to buy than natural gas. If the home is heated with electricity a heat pump should be utilized to keep the bills manageable. The system should be properly sized by performing a manual J load calculation. A central air conditioner or heat pump that is too big for the home will result in excessive energy usage, higher than normal humidity, etc. All of the ductwork should be sealed with a mastic sealant to reduce the amount of conditioned air lost due to duct leakage. The average duct system leaks out approximately 20% of the air that flows through it. Duct leakage can also affect indoor air quality, comfort, safety, and health in a negative way. If ducts are located in an unconditioned space they should be properly insulated to reduce heat loss and gain through the duct system. A reputable brand of heating and air conditioning equipment is another consideration. There are major differences in quality and reliability between manufacturers. The most important factor in the equation is the installing contractor. No matter the brand if a heating and air conditioning installation is not per the manufacturer’s specifications the system will not operate at optimum efficiency levels or last as long as it could have if the proper installation practices were utilized. Safety is also a big part of the heating and cooling system. A gas furnace is a controlled explosion every time it comes on equivalent to the energy produced by as many as 140,000 matches being struck simultaneously and poor electrical connections can cause house fires.
While the looks, location and size of a home are important things to consider, they may not be the most critical factors choosing a new home for you and your family. The homes heating and air conditioning system is the most dangerous thing in the home that costs the most money every month, choose wisely.
SS&B Heating & Cooling, Inc. is fully recognized as a certified Energy Star, New and Existing Homes Contractor.