Before You Start an Energy-Efficient Retrofit—Mechanical Systems
One of the best ways to make your home more comfortable, healthier and less expensive to operate is top grade the heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Energy-efficient equipment upgrades can be expensive, but can be offset by lower operating costs. Before you decide to upgrade mechanical equipment, it's also critical to understand how the overall performance of the house will be affected. Keep in mind that your lifestyle, the number of occupants, their age, the climate and the insulation levels of the all have an impact on the performance of mechanical systems. This type of upgrade will require professionals to do it right and to avoid causing other problems in the house. It's important to weigh the benefits against the costs. Healthy Housing Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When upgrading your mechanical systems to increase their efficiency, be sure to consider:
· Occupant health: venting strategy for combustion appliances, adequate ventilation for occupants, addition of air filtration.
· Energy efficiency: energy-efficient appliances, high efficiency motors for fans and furnaces.
· Resource efficiency: upgraded insulation and draft proofing to reduce heating needs and allow installation of a smaller heating system.
· Environmental responsibility: energy-efficient appliances to reduce the home's environmental impact.
· Affordability: energy-efficient fixtures to reduce ongoing operating costs. Common Situations All equipment has an optimal life span. Older furnaces and boilers may need replacing simply because they have outlived their useful life, or because they may not have been regularly serviced. If you have noticed a sudden change in fuel bills, it may be because you have started using the house differently, perhaps the temperature settings have been increased because a new child has entered your life or an elderly person has moved in. Older homes often have areas that are cold because of poorly laid out heating and mechanical systems. Perhaps you are undertaking other renovation work that requires some adjustments to your present mechanical systems. In this case, you can also consider upgrading your mechanical equipment to take advantage of new, more efficient products. This may also be an opportunity to install a proper ventilation system where one does not exist. It is important to note that mechanical systems must not change the balance between the air pressure inside and outside the house—since high pressure differences can lead to combustion spillage problems from furnaces, hot water heaters or fireplaces. If there is no fuel burning appliances of any kind in the house, then this is not a significant issue.
House as a System
A house is much more than just four walls and a roof—it's an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants.
Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.
Energy-efficient mechanical systems such as gas furnaces, usually have a sealed combustion chamber that isolates the flue gases from the house. Direct vent gas fireplaces can be a decorative heat source too, while not compromising the indoor air quality. New appliances may require special provisions for makeup air if the combustion appliances are not the “sealed combustion” or “induced draft” type. Avoid Surprises Knowing the properties and operating characteristics of your heating system will help you to determine the changes you may want to consider. You will want to hire a professional heating contractor to make changes in the mechanical systems. Thinking about what changes you'd like to make or anticipating problems ahead of time will help the heating contractor address the shortcomings of your home's system.
Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter.
§ Solar or photovoltaic collectors
§ Central exhaust system (if not using heat recovery ventilator (HRV))
§ Correctly sized equipment Heat recovery from exhaust air streams
§ Minimal reliance on electricity • Central air conditioning • Central vacuum •
§ Water purification system
§ Improved filtration
§ Sealed combustion appliances
§ Combustion air as required
§ High efficiency appliances Upgraded
§ Controls Sealed ducts
§ Insulated hot water pipes
Questions to Ask yourself :
How old is the furnace or boiler? service done? Is it more than 15 years old? When was the last maintenance
Replace the furnace, depending on its age and condition. Furnaces typically last 15 to 20 years, while boilers may last up to 40 years if maintained correctly.
Older furnaces have very inefficient motors and the heat exchangers are not as efficient at extracting heat compared with newer furnaces. Hot water based heating systems may have inefficient boilers and pumps. New equipment is much more energy-efficient than the older equipment likely to be in your home.
Have your heating system maintained regularly to keep it operating safely and efficiently. Filters must be cleaned or replaced regularly. Combustion system components must be maintained as outlined in user manuals.
Choose more energy-efficient appliances that may make it possible to eliminate existing chimneys. This is worth considering if the chimney is located on an exterior wall or mostly outside. These types of chimneys can contribute to back drafting of combustion gases.
Many existing furnaces are oversized. Choosing a new properly sized furnace can lead to a smaller, less expensive furnace and possible gains in efficiency.
Inadequate maintenance will mean a shorter life span for the equipment and can lead to premature failure, incomplete combustion of fuels and back drafting of combustion gasses. Clogged filters and flues are a fire hazard. Cracked heat exchangers allow combustion gases into the home's air.
Newer, combustion-fuelled, energy efficient equipment requires venting and combustion air supply directly to the unit. This may also have an impact on the overall environment within the house.
Many new furnaces, because they are significantly more efficient, may require some modifications to the original heating ducts.
If only one appliance is upgraded and removed from a flue, then there may have to be modifications made to the chimney so that the remaining appliance is vented correctly.
For more information and know how contact us at G. I. Home Inspections LTD we will be more than happy to help you make the right decision.