Size Does Matter When It Comes to HVAC
Once upon a time, a little girl named Goldilocks wandered into the forest where she found a cabin inhabited by three bears. Now she didn’t know that this cabin belonged to a family of bears, so she went inside. First, she went into the kitchen, and on the table she found three bowls of porridge. One bowl was too large, the other bowl was too small, but the third bowl was just right…
I think you know the rest. Now, you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with HVAC. Well, the answer is simple. When it comes to installing a new HVAC system for your home, you want to be like Goldilocks. Don’t choose a system that’s too big. Don’t choose a system that’s too small. Instead, choose a system that’s just right
The problem with choosing a system that’s too small is fairly obvious. If your HVAC system isn’t large enough for your home, it won’t be able to keep you comfortable, especially on the hottest and coldest days. The signature of an undersized HVAC system is that it runs constantly without ever reaching the set temperature. You’ll end up paying a lot of money in utility bills while still being too hot or too cold.
On the other hand, an HVAC that’s too big for your home also causes problems. The signature of an oversized HVAC is short-cycling—that means it only runs for 5-10 minutes at a time, then shuts back off because it’s already reached the set temperature. Short-cycling has two major disadvantages. First, because the system is constantly starting and stopping, it puts excessive stress on the motor. This can lead to more frequent breakdowns and ultimately shorten the lifespan of the unit.
Second, when an air conditioner short-cycles, it cannot perform one of its two functions. You see, air conditioners don’t just cool the air in your home. They also dehumidify it. And reducing the humidity of the air means you’ll feel less sweaty and more comfortable overall. When the AC short-cycles, it doesn’t run long enough to take the moisture out of the air. So the air may be cooler, but the humidity level in your home will stay high. So, in order to make your home as comfortable and efficient as possible, it’s important to have a Comfort Specialist evaluate your home and calculate exactly what size HVAC unit and thermostat will be just right for you.
See Also: Energy Star
Smart Technology saves you money
In today’s world, everybody’s looking for ways to save money. And if you can help the environment by saving energy at the same time, even better! One of the simplest ways to save money and energy in heating and cooling your home is to install a smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats have been around for several years, and it’s well known that they can help you save money on your heating and cooling bills. However, the original versions tended to be difficult to program, requiring you to punch a lot of buttons in just the right combinations every time you needed to set or reset it. As a result, they haven’t been as popular with homeowners or as effective in increasing energy efficiency as you might expect.
Smart thermostats make your home more energy-efficient by adjusting the temperature so you’re never heating or cooling more than is necessary, while still ensuring that you are always comfortable! With multiple smart thermostats available today, the key is finding the one that best fits your home, your schedule, and your comfort with technology.
Two of the most popular smart thermostats currently available are the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee. In terms of price, ease of installation, and basic features, these two thermostats are very similar and both can save you money on your monthly utility bill. However, they do each have distinct features that set them apart.
- The Ecobee has a clear advantage in larger homes. Like most traditional thermostats, the Nest has one central unit measuring the temperature of the home, usually placed in a hallway. But as anybody with a two-story home knows, temperatures can vary widely from one part of a house to another. While your downstairs hallway might be a comfortable 72 degrees, that master bedroom upstairs can be a sweltering 80. Not great for sleeping!
- The Ecobee has multiple sensors that you can place in every room of your house, and it can be programmed to prioritize certain rooms over others, such as your bedroom while you’re sleeping.
- The Ecobee’s sensors can even detect which rooms you and your family members are in and automatically prioritize those rooms.
- For people with larger homes, especially multi-story ones, the Ecobee definitely has the advantage.
- The Ecobee, on the other hand, relies on you to program it, as well as using its sensors to detect whether you’re home. For those with a less regular schedule, this may work better than the Nest’s system. On the other hand, the Ecobee gives you more control and allows you to fine-tune things such as when the heat-pump comes on.
- The tech-savvy owner can use these features to increase efficiency and money savings.
Nest Learning Thermostat
- The Nest Learning Thermostat is quick to install, easy to use, and can pay for itself in about two years. Plus, it can make a real difference in your family’s comfort, and even make your home safer when connected with other Nest products.
- The Nest Learning Thermostat actually programs itself. No more punching buttons until your fingers ache! For the first week or so, you simply set the temperature on the Nest manually, like you would do with an old-school thermostat. Turn down the heat when you go to bed, or turn up the AC when you get home from work—whatever’s appropriate for the time of year.
- As that week goes by, the Nest learns your schedule and begins resetting the temperature for you.
- The Nest thermostat also knows when you leave the house, thanks to its motion sensor and a Nest app you can install on your phone (this does require your thermostat to be connected to wi-fi).
- While you’re gone, it will automatically reset the temperature to save energy.
- You can also control the thermostat while you’re away from home by using the Nest app.
- If there’s a problem, such as the temperature dropping too low due to a malfunctioning heater, the thermostat can also send an alert to your phone to warn you.
- Speaking of warnings, Nest also sells a combined carbon monoxide and smoke detector, called the Nest Protect, which can be linked over wi-fi to your Nest thermostat. If the Nest Protect detects carbon monoxide in your house, it doesn’t just sound an alarm. Through the connection to your Nest thermostat, it can actually shut off your furnace to prevent further carbon monoxide from leaking in! If you’re sleeping soundly or your pets are home alone when the alarm sounds, that feature could save lives.
- It can control humidity, and through the app it records data such as when you’re using the most energy, so that you can make adjustments to improve your home’s efficiency even more.
- According to independent studies, the Nest thermostat saves homeowners an average of 10-15% on their heating and cooling bills.
- Some local utility companies offer rebates for homeowners who install smart thermostats. If your area has a rebate available, your Nest thermostat could pay for itself even faster.
- The Nest works best for people who keep a fairly regular schedule. Over the first week after installation, the aptly-named Nest Learning Thermostat learns your habits—when you are home, when you are away, and what temperatures you like. It programs itself to match your schedule.
The final factor to consider is your level of comfort with technology. While both thermostats can be set up and operated fairly intuitively, the Nest is simpler to use and essentially runs itself. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which smart thermostat fits your needs best. But either way you can rest assured that by choosing one, you’re improving your home’s energy efficiency—and saving money on those monthly utility bills!
See Also: Thermostats