How to Choose Your Home’s Replacement Heating System
Having worked in the Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling industry now for almost 40-years, I’ve come to notice a few basic things worth considering when it’s time to choose a heating/cooling system; either initially with a new home, or as a replacement for an existing system.
The most basic thing to consider is what kind of system or systems are you most comfortable living with…
• Do you like the feel and convenience of central air?
• Do you like the warmth of radiant heat coming off a stove, fireplace or radiator?
• Do you want the hard surfaces in the home to be warm to your bare feet?
• Do you need to have good air circulation and filtration due to allergies?
• Is controlling the humidity unnecessary… or an important issue?
After that, it’s best to consider the types of systems that have worked well for people in your area, and the companies that have a lengthy history installing and supporting these systems.
It used to be that only one type of system could be used in a home. That’s not true anymore. Now, it’s possible and often a good idea to use several types of equipment together in order to achieve the most comfortable and economical heating and cooling system in our homes. These ‘hybrid systems’ are becoming more and more common.
As an example, our home in the Pacific Northwest is 35-years old and has several types of systems, although when we built it, all we could afford was a cheap electric furnace with conventional duct work. Over the years we improved and upgraded.
Our primary central heating/cooling system still has conventional duct work under the house in a crawl-space, but it’s now sealed and super-insulated, with a heat pump unit outside that can keep heating our home down to 10-degrees Fahrenheit, without the need for expensive electric ‘back-up’ strip heat. And, since we live in the foothills of the Cascades, and our power goes out frequently, we have a ‘wood stove’ style heater in the main living room, powered by propane, which also heats our on-demand water heater.
Just to bless my wife, we have tapped into that potable hot water system and are warming the floors to the master bedroom with some radiant heat. Since we own pets and allergies, we also incorporated an extremely good quality media air filter, and our variable-speed furnace blower unit now runs 24-hours a day, 365-days a year. Fortunately, it costs less than $35.00 a year to run. We are always filtering the air, and when there is a call for heating or cooling, the fan ramps up to the proper speed until the right temperature is achieved, and then goes back down to a very slow, gentle circulation.
It’s best that Hybrid Home Comfort Systems like ours only be designed, installed, and maintained by a good quality HVAC/R dealer company, that stays abreast of the industry, keeps its people well trained, and in my opinion, is staffed by a team of professionals who have a long history of success with the equipment and the same company.
I also believe it’s best to work with a company that’s been in your community a long time, and installs good quality equipment from manufacturers that have strong distributor networks. This benefits you, because if the company who installed your equipment needs back-up help or training, there is a network in place to make sure you aren’t left ‘out in the cold’.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the equipment manufacturers like Lennox and York who do not have a Distributorship Network to support their dealers, have the lowest ratings by Consumer Reporting agencies.
Unlike simple appliances i.e., dishwashers or washing machines and dryers; Furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, solar heat, geo-thermal heat, heat-pumps and the new ductless heat-pumps, are all very sophisticated systems that run on-demand for months at a time. And it takes a lot of support and on-going training to maintain them properly.
If you’re thinking about getting or replacing your HVAC/R System here are a few things to remember:
• Make sure you have researched a handful of good companies that are dealers for the higher rated equipment like Carrier, American Standard, Bryant or Trane.
• Have them come to your home and spend time with you so they understand what you need and like, and what your structure needs.
• Have them perform a comprehensive Energy Audit and Heat-Cooling Loss/Gain calculation according to Local and Federal Standards and Codes.
• Most importantly…Be proactive! Have these things done before an emergency breakdown forces you to make a rash decision.
A good quality, whole house HVAC/R and Filtration System is not something that you can just buy out of a box and apply generically. It’s a holistic Comfort System that needs to be designed, installed, supported and maintained by professionals who are invested in their trade, and invested in helping you and your family for the life of your home.
Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce Davis Sr is President of Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating business in Lynnwood, Washington. Contact Bruce at: Bruce@dayandnite.net
Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
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