The air in your home is controlled by the HVAC system, which includes the air conditioner and heater. If you’ve stayed up-to-date with heating and AC maintenance by scheduling HVAC maintenance (preferably in the spring and fall), it’s likely that your system is efficient. That said, the unit could also be dated — most have about a 15-year lifespan — or contain low-quality parts that reduce performance. In those cases, adding a few upgrades or modifications could dramatically improve your heating and cooling experiences.
Conversely, if it’s been a while since you last scheduled a service appointment, your HVAC system is likely overdue for repair and replacement of certain parts. This is a prime opportunity to upgrade your system. But that still leaves the larger question of what HVAC upgrades to choose for the benefit of your system. There’s no one right answer — upgrading is a custom process, and the goal is to create the best system for your home’s heating and cooling needs.
If you have questions about upgrades, LIBERTYAIR is happy to help. Our technicians can inspect your system and make recommendations based on your budget. Just contact our HVAC company in Gainesville to make an appointment, and in the meantime, check out these four popular upgrades for inspiration for your heating and air conditioning system!
1. Use A HEPA Filter
HVAC systems use a filter to pull air from the outdoors before heating and cooling the indoor air. HVAC filters collect airborne particles, such as hair, dust, and mold spores, that you wouldn’t want to breathe, and stop larger debris from damaging the unit.
But not all filters are created equally. Filtration is measured on a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) scale of 1–20 — the higher the number, the better the filter traps airborne particles. But you shouldn’t just opt for the highest MERV available, as there’s a balance involved: a filter that works too well could actually prevent air from getting through.
For most HVAC units, we recommend a 5–10 MERV filter. Of course, if indoor air quality (IAQ) is a top priority for you, there are ways to modify an HVAC unit so it can handle a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Installing a HEPA filter within your air conditioner or heater produces hospital-level air filtration, capturing 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (µm).
It’s also a possibility your HVAC system can’t be converted to use a HEPA filter. In this case, we’ll explore other IAQ solutions, such as installing a whole-home air filter.
2. Check The Ductwork
Not all upgrades pertain directly to the heater or air conditioner. Equally as important as where the air comes from is how it travels through your home, and this is where ductwork is essential. Ductwork is a system of thin metal pipes that runs through your walls, ceilings, or floors and connects the HVAC unit to the registers (air vents) in various rooms around the house.
Since ductwork is usually concealed by interior construction, it’s easy to take it for granted. But over time, either as a result of regular use, animals, or weather-related damage, air ducts can shake loose or become disconnected. These poorly connected ducts then create air leaks, which not only diminish the flow of warm or cool air indoors, but they also waste money by directing conditioned air to places where no one can enjoy it. Upgrading some or all of your ductwork creates more efficient heating and cooling and improved airflow and distribution.
Seasonal pollen, mold, and pest debris can also infiltrate air ducts and spread around your home. But modifying your registers with in-duct air purifiers is an effective way to trap airborne particles before they enter your indoor air.
3. Upgrade To HVAC Zones
Some people run cold while others run hot — this can make it a challenge to find an agreeable HVAC setting in a large household. If people in your home constantly argue over their preferred thermostat setting, here’s a solution: upgrade to HVAC zones.
The vast majority of homes have a single ductwork system. Not only does this mean every part of the house must be set at the same setting, but also the distance that air travels from one side of the house to the other results in inconsistencies — it’s why one room may feel warmer or cooler than another. But in a zoned system, zone dampers allow multiple sections of the house to be set at different settings. The kitchen can have the AC running on high to counteract the heat from the stove, for example, while the bedroom can be kept comfortably warm and cozy.
Since heat rises, a common problem in two-story homes is that distinct conditions exist upstairs and downstairs. However, zoning allows homeowners to create complementary settings on multiple levels for adequate indoor comfort within each room of their living environment.
4. Install A Programmable Thermostat
If your home uses a manual thermostat, you may be experiencing less-than-optimal results with heating and cooling. New programmable thermostats are not only more precise in how they communicate with the HVAC unit, but they also have a range of custom settings and features that enables you to use your heater and air conditioner in new ways.
Have you ever left for vacation, forgot that the air was running, and returned home to find a supercharged energy bill? With a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to worry. Not only can you save energy by scheduling when the air should run, but you can control all the settings while on-the-go from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
As with any other type of home upgrade, installing a high-tech thermostat will boost the value of your home by making it modern and improving functionality. Even if you’re not a tech-savvy person, operating a programmable thermostat is about as easy as sending a text message. Once we install a programmable thermostat in your home, we can instruct you on how to use it.
Some people avoid upgrading their thermostats because they’re wary of the installation process. But don’t worry. At LIBERTYAIR, we provide both thermostat replacement and air conditioner installations. We’ll also answer any questions you have about which type of thermostat works best for your needs. To learn more about HVAC upgrades, give us a call!