Now is the time to replace a worn out heating system. Installing the right kind of heating system for your property is a smart way to get ready for winter, this year and for years to come. How do you know which system is the best for you? The answer depends on the type of building you want to heat.
Multi-Family Housing, Condos, and Office Buildings
The primary consideration for heating installation in these facilities is whether a centralized or decentralized system is best for your property. A centralized system is one where the mechanical equipment is situated in one location, often on the building’s rooftop or separate mechanical room.
Having the mechanics located in one place has several advantages: Access to the components for service is simple, and the equipment is tucked away out of public view. Additionally, a centralized system is more energy efficient than a decentralized system. The main disadvantage is that performance may suffer during off hours and partial load conditions. Also, installation cost of a centralized system is higher than a decentralized system, but it is usually more cost efficient to operate.
A decentralized system is modular in design. It is made up of many separate compressors and complex HVAC zones. Its design gives a decentralized system the flexibility to deliver different heat temperature levels based on the different individual demands of the tenants. The mechanical components are not located in one single place in the building. A decentralized system is usually less expensive to install than a centralized system. However, in a large facility such as a high-rise hotel or office building with a decentralized HVAC system, maintenance can be complicated. More equipment means more maintenance, and more equipment may cause a significant decrease in the amount of usable space in a building. Additional equipment also generates more administrative work as to operating permits, code inspections, and utility billing.
Which one is best for you? Consult with a professional HVAC contractor to help you make this important decision. You will need to consider such factors as:
- Size of the facility
- Energy efficiency
- Initial costs for installing the system
- Cost of the system’s life cycle
- Maintenance costs
Single Family Home
Almost all new homes have central heat and air. Gas-fueled forced air heating a/k/a a furnace is the most common in the United States. It pulls cold air from the house and passes it around a heated metal box called a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger transfers heat from the metal to the air.
A blower fan then pushes the heated air through ducts that distribute it throughout the house. Natural gas, oil, and electricity are the most common sources of energy currently available for home heating.
Modern furnaces are more energy efficient than in the past, but their cost varies. Cost is based on fuel rates, electricity prices, and energy costs. One piece of good news is that you can have your existing furnace (if you do not need a new furnace due to age or malfunction); your HVAC professional can probably retrofit your furnace to be more energy efficient.
In buying a new furnace, try to find an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of at least 80. The higher the AFUE number, the more money you’ll save on heating bills in the future—but you the initial cost may be higher than other options.
The three primary considerations in selecting a new heating system are:
- Getting the right sized system
- Consider the AFUE – The higher the AFUE, the more efficient your system
- Be prepared to follow the maintenance recommendations
Your HVAC technician can help you with making the right choice. Below are some other home heating systems that are worth considering.
Boilers and Radiant Floor Heating
Other heating options for your home include boilers and radiant floor heating. Boilers move heat into your home through a radiant heating system like traditional radiators, baseboard heaters, or aluminum panels in a home’s floors, walls, or ceilings. Radiant floor heat works very well when installed under ceramic tile.
Boilers and radiant heating transfers the heat without using air ducts, so these options an heat your home without circulating micro particulates such as mold and allergens throughout the house.
The advantages are that you have non-allergenic heat, the system is very energy efficient and is enjoying increasing popularity in the United States, radiant heating systems can be controlled room-to-room and they take up less space than duct systems.
The disadvantages to this system are it is more expensive to install because copper pipes are usually used, your air conditioning system must be added separately, and some technicians do not service boilers.
A heat pump uses refrigerant to absorb heat from outside sources such as the air or the ground. It uses a heat exchanger to transfer the heat inside. The exchange of heat can also be reversed to cool a home. Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular heating choices for homeowners. Heat pumps may be more expensive than conventional heating systems, but they are an excellent choice for homeowners who live in temperate climates.
Some advantages of using a heat pump include high energy efficiency and year-round usability. They can also provide even further savings with water bills if fitted with a desuperheater, a device that transfers excess heat to a hot water tank.
Heat pumps have some disadvantages. Extreme temperatures can place excessive strain on them. Most heat pumps are air-sourced heat pumps, but ground-sourced heat pumps are also available. Ground-source heat pumps can be expensive to install, and they could have reduced energy efficiency depending on the amount and type of the land surrounding your home. They become inefficient when used below 32 degrees ambient temperature.
Contact a Reputable HVAC Contractor for a Free Consultation
Call an experienced HVAC professional for more information about what system is best for your property. It is an important and expensive decision. With the cold weather right around the corner, make sure you talk to a professional soon.