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 Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania property owners considering the installation of an HVAC system would be wise to become familiar with the process. The following buying guide will highlight the important steps and considerations every property owner should take before or during an HVAC installation.
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned homeowner who has dealt with an HVAC installation in the past or a first timer new to large home improvement projects, this HVAC buying guide will help to get you started in the right direction.
What is HVAC?
HVAC or “Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning” is a system used to provide temperature levels for inside residential and commercial properties as well as industrial buildings. In addition to temperature control, an HVAC system is also responsible for air filtration with some systems designed to introduce outside — fresh — air to inside spaces.
Questions to Ask When Buying a HVAC System in Pennsylvania
Before you embark on the purchase of a new HVAC system, consider asking these questions of each respective HVAC dealer or contractor during the estimating process:
Are HVAC brands important? This depends on the size of the property. Many HVAC systems have the similar safety features and compressors and offer similar choices in efficiency level. All brands should last between 15 to 20 years. The SEER and HSPF ratings are a factor as the higher the ratings, the better the efficiency, and the higher the system cost.
What about energy efficiency? Will I save money on my utility bill with a new HVAC? This depends on the SEER and HSPF ratings, whether or not the system is properly installed by a certified contractor, if insulation needs replacing, and if the duct work is secure and not leaking.
What can I expect to pay for my new HVAC system? Get estimates from more than one company. Check consumer reviews for brand products. Be sure the estimate includes all costs of the equipment, accessories, labor for installation, piping, and ductwork and insulation, if applicable.
How long is the warranty period? You’ll have a warranty from the manufacturer that covers the equipment. The contractor will also have a warranty for labor for repairs. It is highly recommended that you get a written, 100 percent money back guarantee for the installation work. Be sure it is signed and dated.
How long will the installation or replacement take? Most HVAC replacements can be completed in one to two days. However, some installations both new and existing could take longer depending on the parameters of the job and the scope of the work involved.
HVAC Climate Concerns in Pennsylvania
Your area’s climate will play a part in determining which type of HVAC system is best suited for your property. Pennsylvania receives approximately 42 inches of rain and 37 inches of snowfall per year. On average, Pennsylvanians can expect 179 days of sunshine with 130 days of measurable precipitation. Temperatures can reach a high of 84 degrees in mid July with an average low of 19 degrees in mid January. Your HVAC contractor will consider your area’s climate conditions along with other parameters when calculating the type and size of the applicable equipment.
Where to Buy HVAC in Pennsylvania
HVAC systems can be purchased through licensed HVAC contractors, home improvement retailers or air conditioning companies in Pennsylvania. Where you choose to purchase your new system will depend on the individual needs of your property, financing options, and warranty considerations.
Hiring a Contractor in Pennsylvania
If you choose to go with a private HVAC contractor for your project, you need to know what is involved in the hiring process that provides protection against fraudulent activities. While the state of Pennsylvania does not require HVAC license at the state level, its cities require all HVAC installations to be performed by certified and licensed HVAC contractors.
Many will say they hold the necessary credentials but it would be wise to verify their credentials beforehand. First, verify they hold a valid HVAC license. Next, ask for copies of their insurance coverage and follow up with said companies to verify their policy is active. HVAC contractors are required to carry two types of insurance, liability and Worker’s Compensation. Liability protects you and your home for job related accidents resulting in damage to your property. Worker’s Compensation insurance protects HVAC contractor employees against job related injuries.
Finally, ask for and check contractor references as well as contact the BBB “Better Business Bureau” to inquire about any complaints or pending lawsuits.
Maximizing HVAC Efficiency in Pennsylvania
A certified HVAC contractor seasoned in new installation will be able to calculate the HVAC sizing needs required for your property as well as cover the different ratings such as SEER and HSPF. They should also point out which type of HVAC system — multi-split, duct-free split, split systems, heat pump and packaged air conditioning systems — that will provide the maximum energy and performance efficiency for the property.
Energy Audits and HVAC in Pennsylvania
An important first step in a successful HVAC installation or replacement should be to ensure your property is comfort and energy efficiency is up to date. The best way to verify home energy efficiency and to identify areas that fall short is through an energy audit. Energy auditors will inspect areas of your home that are prone to energy loss. These areas often include attic insulation, window and door efficiency, and the overall envelope — property’s exterior condition — of your home that could allow conditioned air to escape.
The first step is to contact your utility company who often offer free or discounted energy audits. If not you can hire a private home energy professional to evaluate your home. They will also point you towards any available rebate programs that can reduce or eliminate the cost of the energy audit.
Types of HVAC in Pennsylvania
Many types of HVAC systems are available in Pennsylvania. The type you choose will be based on contractor recommendations, property size, climate considerations, and desired efficiency ratings. The most common types used in residential applications are listed below.
A heat pump is one of the most efficient types of HVAC 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.
Split air conditioning systems incorporate both indoor and outdoor HVAC equipment to provide inside 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 duct work. 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.
Packaged systems contain all of the necessary components in one housing or cabinet. They are often placed on the structure’s exterior such as a roof or crawl space where they connect to an existing duct system.
Saving Money on HVAC Installation in Pennsylvania
There are many rebate and incentive programs available to small business and individuals that can reduce the cost of HVAC installation. 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.
Paying for a New HVAC System in Pennsylvania
How you pay for your new HVAC installation will depend mostly on your financial situation. While it is always best to pay for a new system outright to avoid costly interest charges, many property owners do not have the available funds necessary for such a large expense. HVAC installation can be expensive, and depends mostly on the type of system, its energy efficiency rating and the size of the unit. However, big box retailers and HVAC companies often provide low or no interest financing options to attract new customers. In addition, many lending institutions offer green loans with reduced interest rates to promote energy efficiency. And finally, there are traditional methods available such as HELOC’s “Home Equity Lines of Credit” or a credit card.
Preparing for HVAC Installation in Pennsylvania
Since your HVAC contractor will handle most of the project, there is not a lot for you to do, other than your due diligence mentioned above. However, you can take certain steps to speed up the process and make it easier on your contractor.
- Prepare the outside installation area by trimming bushes, shrubs and foliage
- Remove any debris that might hinder access to the installation area
- Remove clutter from inside or around interior installation areas
- Protect flooring by covering with rolled paper
- Remove valuables and irreplaceable keepsakes from work areas
In addition, be polite and cordial to your installer and don’t be afraid to offer them a cold drink. But most importantly, stay out of the way and limit conversation. Voice any concerns and answer any questions but do not linger. Let your contractor do his or her job and don’t be a distraction. This will allow your contractor to focus on the task at hand and the end result should be a quality installation.