Factors to Consider When Installing New HVAC in an Old Home

Gentrification is on the upswing: forgotten neighborhoods are reviving and young couples are putting down their phones to pick up hammers and restore beauty in dilapidated homes. The spring and summer real estate market will also begin to pick up as the weather gets nicer (hopefully). If this applies to you, let’s talk air conditioning.

Installing a new air conditioner in an older home poses some unique challenges. Antique homes normally don’t have convenient places for an HVAC system, which could turn your summer project into a sweatbox. Here are some things to think about before jumping into air conditioner commitment.

Pick the right contractor

Signing on an honest, fair contractor is key to staying on budget and getting the job done right the first time. The contractor is responsible for determining the size of your unit, explaining your options and installing the unit. I Want SMART’s expert contractors are a certified, dynamic group of technicians that has extensive education in the field. They will walk you through the process and give you common sense solutions that come from years in the industry.

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Explore your options

Creating room for bulky ductwork means you might have to compromise on traditional elements of the house that made you fall in love with it in the first place (like crown molding, wainscoting or wood floors). Ask your contractor about HVAC systems that would fulfill your basic needs. They are out there: a ductless-split system could cool and heat those areas. Instead of conventional systems that require ducting throughout the house, much smaller refrigeration lines are routed through your house and connected to individual cassettes in each room. It would require creative cutting and patching on other surfaces of your home, but it would be an economical way to cool your home while maintaining its integrity.  

Make sure it’s the right fit

Choosing the right sized unit is essential. A unit that’s too big or small could cause loud noises, frequent breakdowns, and inconsistent temperatures in each room of the house. No, bigger is not always better: a bigger unit will not overcompensate for a unit that fits your house perfectly. Oversized units cycle on and off more often, which uses more energy and ends up costing more in maintenance.

Make sure your contractor is certified and knows industry standard calculations for your home. No two houses are alike, and although the style might be similar to a house down the street, you have no idea what lies underneath the floorboards or in the attic.

Know the power of your house

Anytime energy is mentioned, you should hear electricity. Your old house could only be equipped with enough energy to turn on some minor lights and appliances. Take a minute to consider your home’s electrical panel and if it needs an update to accommodate for the energy your new HVAC system will use. If it does need a service upgrade, an electrician needs to replace it before the HVAC goes in. Visit our HVAC FAQs to answer more of your questions.

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Energy-Saving Tips for Summer

Energy-Saving Tips for Summer

Summer is right around the corner, which means we’ll be cranking up the AC for fast heat relief. It’s also a good time to try to save energy. I Want SMART has some green solutions that will also save you a lot of green this summer.


Use your thermostat efficiently

When you’re at home, set your thermostat as high as you can without feeling uncomfortable – 78° is generally recommended. Minimizing the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures uses less energy, lowering your overall bill. The same goes for when you leave on vacation: keep your house warmer than normal so you don’t experience a spike in your bill for the time you’re away.

After returning home, it’s not unusual to want a cool home fast, but setting your thermostat colder than normal does not cool your home any faster, and it might actually drive up energy expenses. Closing all doors to rooms that trap heat and turning on your ceiling fan will actually allow you to raise the thermostat and increase cooling efficiency.

Maintain your AC system

Schedule a maintenance check for your AC unit to ensure it’s still effective and meets standards. Especially for an outdoor unit, making sure your system is weatherproofed and the registers/cooling fins are clear of dirt, dust, dandelions, and other debris is necessary to enhance the life of your machine and improve air flow. There are also some things only a professional can do, such as checking the coolant level.

Additional tip: placing lamps or TV’s near your thermostat causes misreadings because the thermostat senses heat, signaling your AC system to run longer than needed. Clear the path around your thermostat for the most accurate reading.

Avoid heating your home with other appliances

On particularly hot days, try not to overload on activities that use a lot of heat. These include running a computer, dishwasher, or using gadgets like curling irons and hair dryers. Instead of using your oven, plan on grilling outside, cooking on the stovetop, or breaking out a microwavable meal.

After a long day of working or exercising in the sun, it’s tempting to either wash smaller loads to get rid of sweat stains at first sight or take longer showers to clean off. Using as little water as possible – in the form of shorter showers and consistently full loads of laundry – is a sure way to save energy and as much hot water as possible, relieving your water heater as well.

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Source: The US Department of Energy