You’re interested in keeping your Houston home comfortable throughout the seasons without paying too much every month on your energy bills. When you start to notice problems with your heating and cooling, your indoor air quality, or the amount you’re spending on energy, HVAC maintenance may not be enough to solve the problem. A system performance evaluation provides a careful look at your HVAC equipment in tandem with how your home is losing energy to offer smart solutions for the problems discovered.
Considering an HVAC System Performance Evaluation
You may have noticed your energy bills going up recently, even though you’ve taken steps to be more energy-efficient at home. Perhaps your heating and cooling system isn’t doing its job to keep your home at the optimum temperature. Or, maybe your allergies are acting up lately no matter how careful you are about cleaning. The culprit may be your HVAC system, which means a system performance evaluation is what you need.
Instead of typical maintenance, a system performance evaluation goes through your HVAC system specifically looking for problems that could cost you energy or cause other problems. Technicians don’t just look at the HVAC system, either. The building perimeter is examined for any leaks or flaws that could be losing you energy or letting unfiltered outside air in.
Even if you’re not experiencing any particular problems with your HVAC system but are considering upgrading to a more energy-efficient model, a system performance evaluation is a good idea before you make any decisions. Knowing where your home’s weaknesses are may help you decide between new HVAC models. You want to make sure that your energy-efficient models can do their best work and that you aren’t losing energy through problems in your home’s envelope or in faulty ductwork, for example.
What an Evaluation Does
Every home is different, which means that your heating and cooling needs won’t be the same as any other Houston resident. The first step in an evaluation is to look at your home and your current HVAC system. Understanding what you want out of your HVAC system and what your home comfort needs are is important, especially if you’re thinking of an upgrade. The system you currently have is thoroughly checked over for any deficiencies, whether they be in the ductwork, the blower, or the evaporator coils.
System performance evaluations use a number of tools to figure out where you’re losing the most energy. Thermal scans and infrared cameras help technicians determine where energy is escaping your home or where you’re using the most energy inside the home.
Once your system performance evaluation is complete, you’ll receive a report of the deficiencies found and the improvements that will alleviate the problem, along with an estimate of cost for each item. It’s up to you what you want to fix and what you don’t, and your technician will talk with you to determine which are the most necessary repairs and which can wait.
Taking Into Account Yearly Maintenance
You may be thinking that you don’t need a system performance evaluation because you get yearly HVAC maintenance. While the likelihood of any large problems developing under the watchful eye of trained HVAC technicians is less, the fact of the matter is that your equipment is going to wear out eventually. There are also other factors working on your HVAC system and your home’s energy usage that don’t fall under the umbrella of HVAC maintenance.
Maintenance will help extend the life of your HVAC equipment, but after 15 to 20 years, it’s going to start wearing out. At this point, replacing the equipment is smarter than continuing to maintain old equipment. When you’re approaching the end of your equipment’s life, a system performance evaluation can tell you whether you’d save in the long run by replacing what you’ve got. The answer is almost always yes because new systems benefit from technological advances that give them higher SEER ratings than their predecessors.
HVAC maintenance also doesn’t take into account the places your home is losing energy that aren’t directly related to the HVAC system. Your windows, for example, could be letting air in. Bad attic insulation could be affecting your HVAC system’s ability to properly heat and cool your home. The older your home is, the better off you are getting a system performance evaluation; you may have energy losses in places you never anticipated. You may have been living with these losses for years without knowing.
Yearly maintenance, combined with a home system performance evaluation when you want to upgrade equipment or when you’re noticing higher energy bills, is the best way to ensure that everything is working the way it should.
Understanding the Next Steps
Every house is different, so giving a general idea of how to fix system performance problems isn’t necessarily going to cover the specifics that turn up in your home. Some problems seem to crop up more than others, and this way we can give you an idea of your next steps should we discover certain problems during your performance evaluation:
- Faulty Ductwork – Damaged ducts, holes, and rust are serious issues when it comes to ductwork. These problems prevent the cooled or heated air your HVAC system creates from effectively reaching all portions of the house. Bad ducts cause energy loss, which results in you having to alter the thermostat more often to achieve the temperature you desire. In addition, your IAQ can suffer. If your ducts have holes, particulates can get inside, which are then blown throughout your house.
- A Leaky Home – You may feel that your AC or furnace is never able to do its job and want a new one. If your home leaks in too many places (like the windows, doors, and even outlets), fixing that will impact what kind of new system you need, and how it’s sized for your home. Adding better insulation, like weatherstripping, is a home improvement task many homeowners choose to take on themselves. It’s a simple but effective way to make the HVAC system more efficient.
- Bad Ventilation – HVAC systems are designed to ventilate your home. After all, that’s what the “V” in “HVAC” stands for: ventilation. But every house is different, and due to a number of factors like incorrect installation, your HVAC system might not be ventilating the way it needs to, which causes IAQ problems. Stale air can build up in your home, and the particulates that cause asthma and allergy flare-ups don’t get removed the way they should. Anything from new filters to installing an energy-recovery ventilator can alleviate ventilation issues. Your HVAC technician will give you specifics on your personal situation.
- Old Equipment – HVAC systems are complex, which means they can wear out in so many different ways. Your thermostat may need calibration, or your blower motor might be wearing out. Even the smallest HVAC problem can cost you in energy efficiency and make your bills go higher, while your comfort starts to flag. Typical HVAC maintenance will catch when your equipment is wearing out and you should invest in something new. Combine that with the system performance evaluation, and it’s easier to decide, based on your home’s energy needs, what kind of equipment you want to invest in and if you need to make any other repairs before beginning your search.
If you’re worried about an evaluation finding deficiencies and how you’re going to solve them, don’t be. Your HVAC team is on your side to resolve these issues in the way that’s most comfortable for your schedule and your budget. Keep in mind that running an inefficient system costs you more in the long run than repairing problems now, so don’t put anything off for too long.
Let a system performance evaluation tell you where potential energy or system deficiencies are in your home. Some of the answers may surprise you, even if you’ve already got an idea about what needs to be fixed. Our trained professionals here at Davis Air Conditioning & Heating can answer your questions about performance evaluations and schedule your appointment today. Call us at 888-710-5530.
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