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.
HVAC Buying Guide for North Carolina
North Carolina residents and business owners interested in HVAC installation for their properties will find this HVAC buying guide very useful. The information listed here will help get you started on your HVAC project while introducing you to some money saving ideas and programs along the way. In addition, it will highlight important steps and considerations you should take to ensure a quality and professional HVAC installation.
What is HVAC?
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. The primary goal of an HVAC system is to condition the inside air temperatures of your home or business. A secondary goal of an HVAC system is to filter and in some systems, freshen the inside air.
How Climate Affects HVAC in North Carolina
The climate zone your property is located in will play a major role in the type and size of your HVAC system. For example, homes subjected to freezing or extreme winter temperatures will require a system with more heating capacity than those in southern states. Southern states or those in desert climates will require a system with more cooling capacity than their northern counterparts will.
Calculating the Size of HVAC Systems in North Carolina
Sizing a new HVAC system is a critical part of the design and estimating phase on new system installation. Your HVAC contractor may use several methods to estimate the size of the HVAC equipment required for your property.
- Square footage — One of the first things your HVAC contractor will do is calculate the total square footage — interior spaces — of the property. Additional information will factor into the square foot calculation. They include climate, the amount of shade and/or sunshine, the amount and condition of insulation, the type of windows and their energy efficiency. Additionally, they will assess the overall condition of the home’s envelope — its ability to contain conditioned air — in terms of any existing cracks, crevices, or holes that could allow conditioned air to escape.
- Manual J calculation — This method is approved and recommended by the ACCA “Air Conditioning Contractors of America.” It requires using industry specific software and the ability, knowledge, and experience to understand it.
- Sizing to existing system — Contractors replacing an existing HVAC system sometimes take a short cut and size the new system based on the size of existing equipment. While this method can be accurate, there is a chance the prior system was sized incorrectly. Any HVAC contractor worth their salt will size the new system based on new calculations.
If your HVAC contractor fails to size your new system correctly, you can expect an oversized unit to cycle off and on putting additional wear and tear on its components. If your new unit runs continuously, there is a chance the unit is too small. In either case, if you experience these problems with your new HVAC system, contact your contractor immediately.
Where to Purchase HVAC in North Carolina
HVAC systems and related components are typically not purchased off the shelf. Traditionally, HVAC systems are purchased through air conditioning companies or private HVAC contractors, however big box retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot also sell HVAC systems.
Additional HVAC Expense in North Carolina
Aside from the standard components of an HVAC system, you may need to purchase additional components both for the HVAC system itself and upgrades to your home’s envelope. Since the add-ons will increase the overall cost of the system, careful consideration is required.
- Insulation is not only crucial to your home’s overall energy efficiency but also your HVAC’s performance. New home construction or room additions require the appropriate amount of insulation installed based on the square footage of the area. Older homes may require an upgrade by replacing existing insulation with higher-quality insulation and higher R-values.
- Upgrading the base or pad that the condensing — outdoor — system rests on is also an option, especially if the new unit is larger or the old pad is deteriorating. The cost of removing and replacing the original pad should be calculated into the initial price but you should discuss this with the HVAC contractor during the estimating phase and before entering into a contractual agreement.
- It might be necessary to upgrade the circuit breaker box, service panel, breakers, and possibly some wiring. If the HVAC contractor is not licensed to do this work, you may need to factor in the additional cost of a licensed electrical contractor.
HVAC Service Agreements in North Carolina
Maintenance is key to not only extend the lifespan of your new system, but also maintain its efficiency. HVAC warranties vary between manufactures but it is common for a warranty to cover parts and labor for five years, and the compressor for ten. After that, you are faced with paying for the repairs out-of-pocket. You might consider purchasing an extended warranty from the HVAC contractor, manufacturer of retailer. Extended warranties can double the original warranty period and be worth the additional cost in the end.
In addition, as the unit ages and the warranty expires, repairs and replacements can add up. To cover yourself for future issues, consider purchasing an extended warranty or service agreement from your HVAC contractor. Many contractors offer discounts on labor and materials when you enter into an annual service agreement.
How to Maintain Your New HVAC System in North Carolina
Aside from an annual maintenance or service agreement with your HVAC contractor, you can help to maintain your system and keep it running at optimum levels resulting in better efficiency, reduced energy consumption, and year-round comfort. First, change the air filter regularly. A dirty filter will allow contaminates to enter the HVAC system. In addition, you should clean the air vents and return registers periodically to prevent dust and other contaminates from entering the HVAC system. Keep air vents and return registers unobstructed to maintain maximum airflow. Protect your outside unit — the compressor — by keeping shrubs, plants and weeds at bay, which could obstruct airflow. Instruct your yardman to stay clear of the outside unit when weed eating. An errant brush from a weed eater can cause significant damage to the compressor’s cooling fins.
Maximizing HVAC Efficiency in North Carolina with a Home Energy Audit
A home energy audit is highly recommended when replacing old or installing a new HVAC system. You home’s ability to contain heated or cooled air is very important in both HVAC efficiency and energy use. A home with a sieve-like exterior will allow conditioned air to escape. Not only does this drive up energy use and expense but also puts an additional load on your HVAC system, which can lead to premature breakdowns or total failure.
Home energy auditors are trained to identify area of your home that needs attention. These areas could be as simple as new caulking around windows and doors to adding or upgrading existing attic insulation.
Many North Carolina utility companies, such as Duke Energy, offer free or discounted home energy audits. Others may qualify you for a money-saving rebate after performing a home energy audit. If not you can hire a private home energy professional to evaluate your home. It is money well spent as it will protect your HVAC investment and reduce your home’s overall energy consumption saving you even more on your utility bills.
HVAC Audits in North Carolina
Like any piece of equipment, regular maintenance is necessary to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. HVAC audits, while similar to a system tune up or preventive maintenance plan, are an in depth analysis of your HVAC system.
Types of HVAC Available in North Carolina
The most common types of HVAC systems used in North Carolina are listed below:
A heat pump is one of the most efficient types of HVAC systems available that can both heat and cool your home or business. Standard systems utilize outside air to condition inside air during both winter and summer months. Geothermal heat pumps, although significantly more expensive, are even more efficient as they utilize the constant temperature of the earth to condition the air.
Packaged systems contain all of the necessary components — evaporator, air handler, and condensing unit — in one housing or cabinet.
A split AC unit utilizes both indoor and outdoor HVAC components to provide your desired comfort levels. The two main components of a split HVAC system are the indoor evaporator and the outside condensing unit.
Ductless Mini Splits
Comparable to a split system with both inside and outside components, their main difference is that they do not require ductwork. These systems are ideal for small apartments or living areas when ducts are not feasible due to construction methods or limited attic and/or ceiling area.
Saving Money on HVAC Installation in North Carolina
There are many rebate and incentive programs available to small business and homeowners that can reduce the cost of HVAC installation in North Carolina. The Database of State Incentive for Renewables and Efficiency “DSIRE” provides a comprehensive list of programs broken down by state. Simply insert your zip code to view a list of rebate and incentive options available in your area.
In addition, the federal government lists all available rebates, incentives, and tax credits available to North Carolina residents to support energy efficiency. Visit energy.gov to learn more.