Upgrading your HVAC system involves a critical step: performing a carefully executed load calculation. Be wary of any contractor who suggests installing the same-sized air conditioner, furnace or heat pump as your existing equipment. It’s highly possible that your old system wasn’t sized correctly in the first place, and if any home upgrades have been made to the home’s structure that impact load, such as adding insulation or sealing air leaks, you may be able to install a slightly smaller system.
Due to the number of factors that cause homes to change in efficiency over time, and because of the wide variation in home design and construction practices, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) developed a leading, standardized method of performing a load calculation, which takes into account how much heating or cooling a home requires to remain comfortable over the seasons.
When performing the load calculation, your heating contractor will take a number of factors into consideration, including:
- The home’s orientation
- The number of windows, including those that face south and west
- The amount of wall, ceiling and floor space
- The home’s insulation levels and efficiency
- The building’s airtightness
- The condition and efficiency of ductwork
- Heat generated inside the home by appliances and people
- Comfort preferences of home occupants
The architectural features of a home may also impact load, so the technician will also consider:
- Lifestyle factors, such as whether home occupants regularly use window treatments to block or encourage heat gain
- The impact of insect screening
- Room design factor, like rooms with cathedral ceilings or great rooms
- Shading provided by landscaping, or the lack thereof
- Roofing materials and their color
- The presence of a radiant barrier
- Heat loss or gain due to varying building materials like insulated concrete panels or brick construction
Once the load calculation is completed, only then can the technician accurately match the new system’s capacity to the home’s load, resulting in optimal home heating and cooling levels, as well as peak system operating efficiency.
Get more information about the value of a load calculation by contacting the HVAC experts at Wolff Mechanical today! Proudly serving homeowners in the Phoenix area with quality air conditioning, heating and air quality services.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).