The Official HVAC 101 Post: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Heating, Cooling, And Water

In my try to be taught the ins and outs of the whole renovation course of (and move it on to you), I lately did a deep dive into how we are able to get probably the most energy-efficient HVAC and water heating system. Studying all the brand new know-how was a beast. It damage my mind, and I used to be frankly fairly annoyed with myself for not simply greedy precisely how warmth pumps can work for each the warmth/AC and water. (Turns on the market are two several types of warmth pumps – we’ll break it down under).

Gasoline furnaces are simple to know, and electrical heaters, I get. However these warmth pumps are somewhat extra advanced. Their genius lies in being SUPER environment friendly and in case you are renovating proper now, you REALLY must maintain studying. I want I had identified all of this after we renovated the Mountain Home, so this time round I’m doing it RIGHT. To raised perceive Warmth Pump know-how, we had conferences and calls with Rheem specialists and Electrify Now (an energy-efficient nonprofit in PDX) in addition to with our native contractors. I took all of the notes and even recorded the conferences in hopes of distilling them down for you in a method that will assist us all turn out to be specialists. And y’all, I FINALLY GET IT. So as we speak, for these of you who’re renovating or actually identical to to find out about HVAC and water heating, I’m breaking down all of the dos and don’ts that I discovered.

DO: Select Electrical (Like A Warmth Pump) Over Conventional Gasoline. Right here’s Why:

Effectively, as owners who’ve the privilege to renovate, Warmth Pumps are merely a greater method for our earth, our house, and our wallets.

1. We are attempting to cut back our dependence on pure gasoline as a fossil gasoline power useful resource and we dwell in Oregon, which is rapidly altering its power reliance over to inexperienced power — photo voltaic and wind. As a result of we need to cut back our carbon footprint, this can be a good swap to make whereas renovating.

2. Rheem warmth pumps will prevent cash long run by decreasing your power invoice. They’re simply far more power environment friendly as a result of they use warmth power from the air (which I’ll clarify under).

3. Merely put, the variable-speed warmth pump system and Hybrid electrical warmth pump water heater I chosen (which I am going into later) gives you a greater, extra snug house. So for these of you cautious about something too new/inexperienced, or should you simply don’t need to spend the additional bit up entrance, perceive this: Warmth Pumps won’t solely prevent cash long run however you’ll like being in your home extra. A Variable-speed warmth pump will effectively adapt to your air wants and assist decrease humidity whereas Hybrid Electrical Warmth Pump water heaters cool and dehumidify the encompassing air with out producing nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide emissions. Fairly superior.

Pure gasoline is cheap, I do know, and I’m not saying that if in case you have a superbly good gasoline furnace or water heater it is best to scrap it (as a result of that’s so wasteful in itself), however IF you might be putting in a brand new system, significantly take into consideration getting the higher, newer, extra energy-efficient product. It’s just like the vary debate — don’t throw away your previous gasoline vary, however in case you are getting a brand new one, take into consideration induction.

DO: Go for Rheem’s Merchandise And Their Good/Superior Know-how

Sure, this can be a sponsored put up, however I sought them out and pitched to THEM after researching, asking round, and constantly being instructed that Rheem’s warmth pumps, sensible know-how, and merchandise are one of the best within the enterprise.

1. They’ve been making these warmth pumps for years, and so they have a stable product that isn’t new to the market. Shifting ahead, this would be the product builders will use due to the excessive effectivity and sensible know-how.

2. On the subject of heating and cooling, Rheem’s system suggestion is far more correct as a result of they use a software program known as Design Star (lol), which bases the warmth load off home windows, structure, and humidity. Most elementary HVAC contractors simply do a fundamental sq. foot calculation (each 500 sq. ft requires 12,000 BTUs).

3. Rheem’s extra considerate system suggestion course of implies that no power is wasted and that the house will likely be snug for years to return. I used to be EXTREMELY enthusiastic about this.
4. One of many greatest promoting factors for us was the EcoNet® app — you’ll be able to handle your HVAC and water heating in a single place. Plus it may flag leaks, examine system well being, remind you of upkeep, and WAY extra. Different firms don’t have a whole air and water resolution, so we have been excited {that a} model might be a one-stop resolution for all of the nitty-gritty particulars.

…Wait, So What Precisely Is An “Electrical Warmth Pump”?

Right here’s the easiest way I can simplify it for a median house owner like me: It’s a complicated method to warmth and funky each air and water by utilizing the warmth power from the encompassing air and decreased electrical energy. Warmth pumps have been round for many years and are way more power environment friendly than different air and water options. Warmth pump installations are rapidly changing into the norm and are even a requirement in new builds in lots of states. If you wish to get into the actually nitty-gritty stuff, that is how the method was described to me verbatim: 

Primarily, to warmth water, the warmth pump water heater’s fan pulls in air over its evaporator coils. As a result of the refrigerant within the evaporator coils absorbs the warmth power from the air, the exhausted air is cool. Then the super-heated refrigerant transfers warmth to the water within the tank and returns cool refrigerant again to the evaporator. This all simply retains repeating. To warmth and funky air, the warmth pump transfers warmth from one house to a different (much like the water heater). For instance, in the summertime a fan pulls indoor air over indoor evaporator coils. The refrigerant within the evaporator coils absorbs warmth power from the indoor air and exhausts cool air. Then the super-heated refrigerant strikes to the outside coils the place warmth transfers to the air. Then the cool refrigerant returns to the indoor evaporator the place the cycle repeats. I attempted to get my thoughts to know the science, then realized that I don’t actually need to. It’s a greater, extra superior, and environment friendly product, with a ton of benefits, full cease.

Let’s First Discuss AC And Heating

DO: Think about a Variable-Pace Warmth Pump System for Your HVAC — Preserve Studying!!

  • Conventional commonplace “single-speed” furnace and HVAC methods might be wasteful, as they’re both ON or OFF — they could produce extra warmth or AC than you want and use method an excessive amount of power, plus you aren’t getting precision consolation. A variable-speed system is smarter and extra nuanced, fluctuating based mostly on your own home’s wants on a regular basis, to the purpose that you just barely discover it’s there since you are merely very snug.
  • A Variable-Pace Warmth Pump is like how driving on the freeway is a lot extra gasoline environment friendly than driving in a metropolis — it’s the beginning and stopping, the perpetual ON and OFF of it that wastes a lot gasoline (or on this case, electrical energy). As soon as I heard this, I lastly understood! A variable-speed warmth pump system self-maintains as an alternative of overcorrecting.
  • Right here’s the way it works: Rheem’s variable-speed methods are versatile — somewhat bit of warmth will come out should you want somewhat, and quite a lot of warmth will come out if your home is tremendous chilly. Not solely does it alter the temperature by itself, nevertheless it additionally adjusts the quantity of airflow — it adjusts to 1/4 of a level, so your home is the proper temperature for you, ALL the time.

Rheem methods preserve your required temperature with as little waste as potential. This tech is getting increasingly inexpensive, due to scientific enhancements, but additionally due to regulation. It’s nice to see this proliferate as a result of it’ll imply that it’s an accessible alternative for everybody. 🙂 Many states will likely be shifting to require all new development to have electrical warmth pumps — it’s like electrical vehicles. It’s coming FAST to mass market, and Rheem has been doing it for years.

DO: Discover An HVAC Contractor Who Is Versed In Warmth Pumps And Cares About Vitality Effectivity

Not each HVAC contractor will recommend this newer know-how, as a result of not everyone seems to be educated in it. YET. So ensure that whoever you or your GC is hiring is aware of how to do that. (Rheem has a “Discover a Professional” database that will help you.) Many nonetheless need to suggest gasoline furnaces, as a result of that’s what they’ve put in for many years, and generally it’s the proper alternative. Listed below are some issues to consider when hiring:

1. Ask for a “load calculation.” If they simply do it based mostly on sq. footage, it seemingly isn’t as superior or nearly as good as you need (particularly for a house over 1,500 sq. ft). Ask to see earlier load-calculation work, as this can be a good indicator that they’re the form of one who thinks the way in which you need your HVAC contractor to assume.

2. For large tasks like ours, search for a contractor who presents a number of choices…“a great, higher, finest” kind of situation, which immediately correlates along with your price range. In the event that they solely provide one, they need to have the ability to completely articulate why they’re recommending it over others.

3. One other vital factor to search for is a contractor who’s recommending a “zone resolution,” and if they aren’t, ask them to clarify how it’s going to evenly warmth and funky your house all year long.

Throughout our analysis, we got here throughout Rheem and GreenSavers, our HVAC contractor. I had a number of calls with a number of energy-efficiency specialists in Portland, and so they all really helpful this firm (Hello, Craig! :))

DO: Have Your HVAC System “Zoned”

For these of you able to nerd out on our HVAC zones, we received you. I really really feel so empowered to know all of this now.

Zones, zones, zones…this is among the most important methods to optimize effectivity and luxury. For instance, if in case you have a two-story house with bedrooms on the second ground, you want that house snug primarily at night time, for sleeping, however not a lot throughout the day. With a zoned system, you’ll be able to program every zone individually based mostly on how you employ the house all through a 24-hour interval. It makes a lot sense since you gained’t be overheating or cooling rooms after they aren’t getting used.

Craig with GreenSavers appeared on the structure and distinctive traits of the house and determined 4 zones would work finest for the farmhouse. Every zone has its personal thermostat, to allow them to all be managed independently of each other for max consolation and effectivity, an all-around WIN!

Zone 1: The principle dwelling space, together with the kitchen, lounge, and household room

Zone 2: Upstairs

Zone 3: Major suite and mudroom

Zone 4: Sunroom

Zones 1 and a pair of work off of the identical electrical warmth pump compressor on the facet of the home. The electrical furnace is within the basement and feeds to the ducts that run beneath the primary ground and up the chimney chase to the second ground. Because the ducts are related, dampers have been put in so the upstairs and the downstairs might be set to totally different temperatures all through the day… AMAZING. Our main suite and the mudroom are the third zone, managed by a mini-split put in within the new basement. Because the ducting doesn’t prolong lengthy distances, it helps decrease the lack of warmth and cooling, making it extra environment friendly…YAY. The sunroom is an addition with A LOT of home windows, plus it’s set down from the good room, so Craig from GreenSavers thought we must always deal with it like its personal microclimate, which it is going to have. On scorching, sunny days (sure, we do generally have these in Portland) with all of the publicity from the skylights and home windows, it is going to seemingly be hotter than the good room, and within the winter it will likely be cooler, which is why I’ll love these radiant-heat flooring warming my tootsies whereas I kind away. There’s a second mini-split and ducting for the sunroom within the crawl house beneath the room, and each mini-splits run off of the warmth pump compressor on the again of the home. Now quite a lot of people hear mini-split and instantly consider the containers mounted to partitions (which they usually are), however as a result of we created this plan from scratch, GreenSavers was capable of design the system so the mini-splits are BEHIND the partitions, not ON the partitions…good! Now you would possibly ask, why not do mini-splits for the entire home? They’re a unbelievable choice, although it doesn’t make sense for an area as giant as the entire home. However for a state of affairs like this, it’s good!

DON’T: Get Your Duct, BTU, And Unit Sizing Improper

Clearly, depend on your native skilled/contractor, however I at all times really feel empowered once I know what I’m speaking about. 🙂

  • So that you’re going variable pace — you gotta be certain the sizing is completed correctly. If it’s too massive or too small, you’re going to have issues. You need your BTUs to line up along with your wants, neither too excessive (wasteful) nor too low (inefficient).
  • With too massive of a unit, dehumidification gained’t occur — it’ll put an excessive amount of cool air into the system after which flip off. With too small of a unit, nicely, your own home simply gained’t be too snug in all places. 🙂
  • A correctly put in system gives a comfortable AND wholesome setting — we’re taking pictures for 40% to 60% indoor humidity. This helps stop allergic reactions, bronchial asthma, mud mites, static, and ground warping. Our variable-speed system is designed to keep up the extent of humidity, which can defend us AND our funding. 🙂
  • Get your ducts in a row (sorry) — measurement and placement of ducting are additionally tremendous vital. Now your HVAC contractor ought to know this, however after our calls about it, I discovered this is among the most typical issues. Y’all, get a great contractor who is aware of their stuff.

DON’T: Get A Dated System — New Good Tech Is Right here

Whereas we solely renovated a number of years in the past, up on the mountain home our contractor wasn’t versed or concerned about power effectivity, and we now have a dated system. The sensible know-how is superior and has been round for years, so that you aren’t getting the primary model. As I wrote above, Rheem has the EcoNet Thermostat, which might be managed from an app, and it has all your HVAC and water data collectively. You may see your utilization, your temperature, has simple voice management, and also you get vital gear alerts which are despatched on to your cellphone or e-mail.

Oh, and also you even have distant entry by way of the EcoNet App and on prime of all that, the scheduling is easy with one-touch power financial savings. “One-touch power financial savings” means that you could save power by adjusting your thermostat with one contact on the display screen. This additionally means you’ll be able to schedule your temperature settings forward of time – for instance: 74 throughout the day. 69 at night time. Love how simple and environment friendly it’s.

DO: Be Considerate About Vent Placement (+ Make Positive There’s Sufficient)

  • Do evenly house the vents all through a room and home. That is frequent sense, however might be simply ignored.
  • Do place vents beneath home windows — you’ll be blanketing the warmth loss/acquire with heat or cool air, and it’ll flow into by means of the room higher.
  • Don’t put a vent or return beneath the place you assume potential furnishings will likely be. We put one massive return beneath our kitchen island as a result of it has legs and everybody agreed it was nice. However basically, stroll your home and picture the place furnishings and rugs will likely be, then strive actually exhausting to keep away from placing any vents or returns beneath them.
  • Do ensure that in case you are changing your flooring, you order wooden vents to match, so you’ll be able to set up them to be flush. I’ve made this error thrice now (not on this home!) and needed to put in aftermarket vents, which is okay, however much less fairly.
  • Do put your returns the place you’ll have the ability to simply change the filter (ought to that be your system). On the mountain home, one in all ours is 16′ off the ground (within the loft) and requires a terrifying ladder situation.
  • Do place your thermostat in the course of a room (they will’t be hidden in a closet, as a lot as all of us need them to be).

Whereas we haven’t lived right here but, we’re going to do a follow-up put up to point out you the way it works six months in. I simply really feel so grateful and brought care of, realizing that we now have a wonderful system and product that may meet our wants year-round and for a LONG, LONG TIME. Lastly…

DO: Combine and Match If It Meets Your Wants

It is probably not tenable so that you can go all-in on electrical proper now, however you’ll be able to nonetheless combine and match. Rheem additionally presents gasoline furnaces, which can make sense for you relying on kW charges, gasoline charges, and so on. We went all-electric as a result of we’re attempting to cut back gasoline dependency on this home, however should you dwell in a local weather the place you’d really feel extra snug having a gasoline backup for emergencies, you’ll be able to nonetheless work with Rheem to discover a resolution that works for you.

Now Some Information About Warmth Pumps And Water

DO: Think about Going With A Hybrid Electrical Warmth Pump for Water, Too

This is similar considering because the HVAC — to cut back electrical energy or gasoline consumption and to be extra power environment friendly. With a regular gasoline water heater, you’re getting about 50 cents of warmth for each $1 you spend on gasoline. Customary electrical water heaters are extra power environment friendly than gasoline water heaters – normally, you’re getting between 90 and 98 cents of scorching water for each $1 you place in. (As an added bonus, you don’t have to fret about carbon monoxide or venting exhaust out of the home whenever you’re coping with an electrical water heater.)  

Then, you have got hybrid electrical warmth pumps – that’s what we’re getting – that are probably the most energy-efficient water heaters in the marketplace. (And like the usual electrical water heater, there’s no want for venting out combustion gasses.) We ended up choosing two 80-gallon hybrid electrical warmth pumps, that are INCREDIBLY environment friendly – we’ll be getting about $4 of scorching water for each $1 we’re spending on electrical energy. Seek the advice of along with your native plumbing contractor to seek out the optimum warmth pump water heater in your family.

As an added bonus, this hybrid electrical warmth pump mannequin can successfully act as a small air conditioner. Lots of people in hotter, extra southern climates will set up these within the storage, which can settle down the house – it mainly sucks out the recent air, makes use of that air to warmth your water, and blows out cool air. (Once more – these warmth pumps are form of like an AC in reverse.) The 2 hybrid fashions we selected will save us almost $1,000 per 12 months mixed in water-heating prices (in comparison with two 80-gallon commonplace electrical water heaters), and many states provide BIG further rebates to speed up the adoption of those extra high-tech options. We imagine these can pay for themselves in lower than two years, which is wonderful.

Final Ideas

DO: Save Cash Lengthy-Time period

I actually needed some exhausting information on how a lot a hybrid electrical warmth pump water heater and variable-speed warmth pump system value and the way a lot it is going to prevent, so we did some digging. (Take into account prices and rebates are tremendous dependent in your area, your contractor, and your utilization, however this can be a useful baseline.) 

For Water: Though the Hybrid Electrical Warmth Pump Water Heater we opted for prices extra upfront, owners might save as much as $315 per 12 months on 40 and 50-gallon fashions or as much as $491 per 12 months on the 80-gallon water heater. With rebates out there as much as $1,000 and a median HPWH (that stands for “Warmth Pump Water Heater, btw) rebate of $500, the hybrid electrical warmth pump water heater pays for itself in 2 years or much less.

For Air: That is superior. The Variable Pace Warmth Pump gives cooling efficiencies as much as 54% larger and heating efficiencies as much as 58% larger than typical warmth pump designs. On prime of that, you’ll be able to count on to save lots of greater than $7k in lifetime financial savings (based mostly on DOE calculation for estimated nationwide working prices for a 3-ton 10 SEER vs 20 SEER, 6.8 HSPF vs 13 HSPF, and a 15-year life expectancy). I do know that final half is quite a lot of data you won’t perceive but however right here’s extra data to assist! Additionally for much more assist with saving cash, you’ll be able to take a look at their rebate middle for each air and water:)

We’re so excited and really feel so empowered (ha) realizing extra in regards to the ins and outs of HVAC, water heating and power financial savings. Once more, quite a lot of this may be particular to your home (you’ll have to be sized by an area contractor to suit your air and water wants) however in case you are nervous about getting a warmth pump since you haven’t had one earlier than, you’ll come to seek out it’s probably the most energy-efficient choice in the marketplace.

Due to Rheem for sponsoring, in addition to Electrify Now, GreenSavers, and Northwest Pure for serving to make this home as power environment friendly and but snug as potential.

*Photographs by Kaitlin Inexperienced

The put up The Official HVAC 101 Put up: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Heating, Cooling, And Water appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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