To make the process of replacing your home’s HVAC easier, the ModHVAC Calculator offers system recommendations and a quick estimate of your replacement costs to save you the guesswork. To use the tool, just slide the bar in the green box to match your home’s square footage. Then enter your city and state below and click Calculate Cost. Seconds later, you’ll be provided with a set of options for your new HVAC unit.
Replacing or Installing a New HVAC System in Florida
Living comfortably is every homeowner’s dream. With Florida’s hot, humid weather, an HVAC system is a home’s greatest asset in the Sunshine State. Replacing your home’s heating and cooling system can be an intimidating task. Whether your current system is in need of repair or you are looking for a more eco-friendly system for cost savings, Modernize can help you select the system that best serves your household needs.
Florida is known for its superb climate. This subtropical state is perfect for recent retirees, and those who wish to avoid the extremely cold winters of other regions. Although there is a defined rainy season from May through October, the remaining portion of the year provides a moderate climate, with humid, hot summer months. Even during the winter months—when most of us are bundling up—the average Florida temperature is a perfect 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although Florida’s climate produces ideal temperatures, finding the perfect HVAC system can be challenging. It is important to consider which part of Florida you reside in, the size of your home, and the unit cost to invest in the appropriate cost-efficient eco-friendly system.
Humidity Control Systems and Dehumidifiers for Florida Homes
If you reside in south Florida, humidity is a year-round issue. Excessive humidity can make you feel hotter in a home, making you run to the thermostat to turn down the temperature on your system. It comes as no surprise that the Florida’s humidity has a major impact on the effectiveness of your air conditioning system. Humidity not only affects the way you feel, but it can also influence the way your HVAC unit cools your home.
When you are purchasing a new HVAC system, make sure you look at the humidifiers and dehumidifiers that come with your purchase. When humid air fills a home, air conditioner units are forced to work a lot harder to remove the moisture from the environment. Florida residents need to make sure when purchasing a HVAC system that it has the sufficient cooling capacity that best fits the needs of your home.
The best way to compete with humidity is to get a dehumidifier installed on your HVAC system. Whole house dehumidifier models install directly onto your HVAC system and dehumidify the air as it flows back and forth through your air ducts. If your current HVAC system works properly, and the only issue you are having is the humidity in your home, then getting a dehumidifier installed on your current system won’t break your budget. You will need a professional service team to install the dehumidifier, but the cost is not as large as replacing your entire HVAC system. Installing a dehumidifier on your current HVAC unit can also save you money. Less energy will be consumed through your unit to reprocess the moisture in the air. When less energy is combusted, you not only decrease your energy costs but you also reduce your environmental footprint.
Bigger Is Not Always Better with HVAC in Florida
Some people assume that a bigger HVAC system will result in a cooler home and less humidity. This is not always the case, and purchasing an oversized unit can actually require more expenses from you in the future in maintenance and equipment fees. The size of your HVAC unit should be close to the actual cooling requirement needed for your home. This provides better humidity control for those steamy Florida days. This also produces energy cost savings when compared to an oversized central air conditioning system with the same features.
Over-sizing your HVAC system usually results in higher equipment costs in the long-run. An oversized unit does result in a faster cool down in room temperature, but is not energy or cost efficient. Equipment for an oversized unit will need to be replaced frequently, generating more costs for you and your family with little return.
A properly sized HVAC system that best fits your need will bring more benefits to you and your home. Close-sizing your HVAC system requires proper maintenance and installation to guarantee the best results. The proper sealing of ductwork, windows, insulation, and sealing against infiltration must be installed correctly. To choose the appropriate sizing for your unit, the load (cooling requirement) must be calculated. Load calculations are based on the square footage of your home, area, orientation, and type of construction. The standard residential air conditioner size is ACCA Manual J, however a professional contractor should conduct an appropriate load calculation for your home’s particular usage.
2015 Florida AC Energy Efficiency Requirements
At the beginning of January 2015, new regulations went into effect in the state of Florida, which increased the minimum SEER ratio for new AC installations throughout the state. In 2009, the United States adopted the International Energy Conservation Code, or IECC. The purpose of this legislation was established to generate energy efficient upgrades around the country to improve energy consumption in the United States. The IECC agreement lays out a framework of upgrades that continues until 2030, and requires manufacturers and installers to use more energy efficient units for new HVAC installations.
The SEER rating of an AC unit measures the seasonal energy efficiency. It is calculated by taking the cooling output during a typical cool season and dividing it by the total electric energy input during the same period. A higher SEER rating results in a more energy efficient cooling system for your HVAC unit.
In previous years, the SEER rating requirement for Florida was only 13 for new installations. In 2015 that rating requirement increased to 14. It is expected that the SEER rating requirement for new installations in Florida will continue to increase within the next five years. Increased SEER requirements are good for both consumers and the environment. In Florida, where air conditioning energy consumption is extremely high, most home owners consume more energy to cool their homes than any other state in the country. With an increase in the SEER rating requirement statewide, homeowners can expect to see lower monthly costs on their energy bill. Most importantly, less energy consumption results in better eco-friendly changes that lessen environmental damages.
AFUE Ratings for Energy Efficiency in Florida Homes
Florida winter weather is not nearly as extreme as in other parts of the country, but temperatures do cool down during the winter season. Although heating a home may not be important for southern Florida residents, north Florida can see a drop in temperature during the winter months, especially during January and February. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) measures the efficiency of a HVAC system’s boiler and furnace. It measures the ratio of energy output versus input, which essentially tells you how efficiently your heating system converts energy to heat.
New furnace and boiler systems are required by the Federal Trade Commission to display their AFUE rating. This affords consumers the opportunity to compare the heating efficiencies of various models. A higher AFUE rating means the heating system is more energy efficient.
Although most Florida residents do not see the importance of a heating system—especially compared to a cooling system—it is still an important part of the HVAC unit. Having a more energy efficient heating system can save you money throughout the year. It also allows your household to consume less energy, creating a more environmentally friendly home.
Mid-efficiency heating systems have an AFUE rating of 80% – 83%. The highest efficiency heating units, and the most eco-friendly, have an AFUE rating of 90% – 98.5%. The cost difference between the two systems is not much, and purchasing a system with a higher AFUE percentage can save you more money on your energy bills during those colder winter months.
HVAC Strategies to Keep Your Monthly Electric Bill Low in Florida
Make sure that the AUTO setting and not the FAN setting is selected on your thermostat. If your thermostat is set to cool on FAN, the blower will push air through the ductwork continuously while the compressor cycles on and off. Moisture removed from the air while the compressor runs will be reintroduced to the house when the fan alone runs between compressor cycles. Keep your thermostat on AUTO to help keep the humidity lower and reduce your energy costs. If your ducts are leaky (and most are) the FAN setting is especially costly to you.
Change your air conditioner’s filter monthly. When the air conditioner’s air filter is clogged airflow is restricted, making your system runs less efficiently. A clogged filter increases costs, reduces comfort, and can lead to costly equipment failures. When airflow is severely restricted, ice can form on the air conditioner’s evaporator coils, a condition that can precede “slugging” the compressor with liquid refrigerant resulting in costly repair bills.
Don’t set your thermostat too low. Yes, Florida summers can be scorchingly hot, but your air conditioner runs no faster at a lower setting, it only runs longer. The recommended summer setting is 78 degrees. Set it 2 to 5 degrees higher when you’re away in the day. Recent research in Florida reveals that home cooling costs increase 12% for each degree setting below 78 degrees. Your cooling costs can almost double if you set the thermostat at 70 instead of 78 degrees.