With rising property costs, many homeowners look to remodeling to extend their living space. Although many remodeling projects involve renovating a kitchen or bathroom or finishing a basement, the most extensive project involves creating a new addition to the home. Although creating an add on will give you a blank slate in terms of decorating your new living space, one area that is often overlooked is how you will heat and cool the new addition. There are three main options that are available to heat and cool a new addition.
Here we’ll explore these options to help you make an informed decision.
Extending a Current System
The most straightforward option can be to simply extend your current system, but you’ll need to think carefully if this is the right option for your home. It is crucial that you have an energy audit performed and that a technician checks the load calculations. An HVAC professional will need to ensure that your current system has the power capacity to extend your existing ductwork into your new addition. If your current system lacks power, it could compromise the overall performance of your system, creating hot or cold spots in different areas of your home, including the new addition. The airflow of your current system will need to be rebalanced to ensure that all of the areas of your home have the right level of delivery.
Upgrade Your System
If the load calculations determine that your existing system lacks the power and capacity to support extension, or your existing system is getting older, you may wish to consider upgrading your current system. An upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean having to replace every component of your HVAC system, as you may still be able to use your existing ductwork. But, you could need to upgrade your furnace and air conditioner units to cope with the additional demand. Again, your HVAC technician will be able to calculate your requirements and properly size your new equipment, accounting for the insulation levels, sun exposure, and other factors that need to be considered to choose the right size of unit.
Install an Independent System
If you’re happy with your existing HVAC system and don’t want to put it under additional strain, you could install an independent system, such as a ductless heat pump or a mini split unit. This can be a good option for an add on that will not be in use constantly. This will allow you to handle the heating and cooling in a highly efficient way, as you control each of the rooms in your new addition with their own units. Just be aware that this will create higher cooling and heating costs, as you will need to account for completely new units.
Which is the Best Option for Your Addition?
Before you make a final decision about which option is the best for your new addition, there are several questions you need to ask yourself. These include:
What Size of Space Do You Need to Condition?
If you have several rooms that you need to condition and have a smaller budget, ductless mini split systems could be the best option for your addition. If the space is larger, it would require multiple units, so it may be a more cost effective solution to extend or upgrade your current system.
What’s Your Budget?
We’ve touched on this above, and while the price should not be the prime consideration, it will play an important role in the overall cost of your project. Since heating and cooling equipment can be costly, these expenses should be planned into your budget before you make other purchase decisions for your addition.
What is the Age of Your Current HVAC System?
If your HVAC system is getting older, it may lack the power, capacity, and efficiency to handle your current home and an addition. On the other hand, if your existing system is fairly new and is operating smoothly, then you should consult your HVAC technician about checking it is sized correctly and if it can accommodate the addition.
Are There Any Installation Considerations?
Installation can be different depending on whether it is being installed during construction or after completion. It is easier to install ductwork and other components if the addition is currently being built or is planned out before you start work. It can be highly expensive to add ductwork when a space is completed since you will need to get into the walls and ceiling. While ductless systems can be installed after construction, it is often more convenient to finish installation before moving into the space.
Will the Aesthetics be of Concern?
You will also need to consider whether the aesthetics of the system will be of concern. If your planning your addition to be sleek and minimalist, you may not appreciate the installation of wall units for a ductless split system. Although the main condenser will be located outside, a ductless system does require an indoor unit in each room or area. These can be placed high on the wall, but may intrude in some types of decor. In this scenario, you may prefer the discreet placement of vents for a ducted, central system. Since the ducts are installed in the ceiling or walls, the only intrusion into the room is the vents.
Consult the Pros
If you’re still struggling to determine the best option for your addition, it is always a good idea to consult a professional HVAC specialist. An experienced technician can assess your current system and look at the plans for your addition to advise you of the best options for your home. This professional guidance will help you to explore all of the available options to assess the practicality and viability of each in your addition. This will ensure that you can enjoy optimum performance and energy efficiency, so that your addition will feel like a comfortable and useful part of your home, allowing you to enjoy your new living space at all times of the year.