According to Bryan Simning, owner of Valley Comfort Heating and Air in Santa Rosa, one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when purchasing heating systems is oversizing them. “Most people think bigger is better, but that’s simply not true when it comes to heating systems,” he says. “If the system is too large for your home, it’s really no better than a bare furnace, even if it’s an energy-efficient model.”
The best way to ensure your heating system is the right size for your home is to have a professional HVAC technician provide a detailed estimate. Mr. Simning says it’s important to watch your technician as he’s giving the estimate and make sure he takes the time to do it right. “It takes about two hours to properly size a heating system, from doing the load calculations to studying the duct system to figuring out how to properly heat and cool specific rooms. If the technician tells you right away that he can replace your old system with something of a similar size, you should look for another company.”
Mr. Simning says it’s also important to inform your HVAC technician about various aspects of your lifestyle before deciding on a heating system. Does anyone in your home have respiratory problems like asthma or allergies? Do you have specific daily habits that necessitate the system being turned on or off at certain times? Are there any hot or cold spots in your house? These factors can have a big impact on the type and configuration of the heating system you choose.
When it comes to estimating energy savings, make sure you have a year’s worth of PG&E bills (covering both winter and summer) to show your HVAC technician. If your utility bill is relatively low (about $50 per month), a high-efficiency system won’t save you much money or greatly reduce your carbon footprint, so you’re probably better off with a less expensive and less efficient system. If you’re worried about the carbon footprint of a less efficient HVAC system, consider taking the money you save and applying it to reducing your energy usage somewhere else.