At Aire Serv of Calgary, we understand that your home’s heating and cooling system is what creates a safe and comfortable environment for your family. Whether seeking respite from a blistering Calgary summer or keeping the deep freeze of our winters at bay, it’s imperative that your HVAC system works efficiently and consistently.
There are many different heating and cooling systems that can keep the temperature of your home pleasant. Each of these systems have their own benefits and drawbacks, and offer different levels of efficiency. In this blog, we’ll walk you through a few different kinds of heating and cooling systems and provide a few tips about how to boost your home’s heating and cooling system’s efficiency.
How Different Heating Systems Work
While many Calgary homes include furnaces, there are a few other ways that your home or apartment complex may be heated. Additionally, if you have a cabin or cottage, in lieu of a furnace you may have access to a wood burning stove or some other alternative means of heating your space instead. Read on to learn about different heating systems.
Forced Air Heating
Forced air heating uses a centrally located furnace and a network of air ducts to distribute warm air throughout your home. Typically, the furnace will use natural gas or electricity to heat up cool air. Your furnace knows when to kick in because of your thermostat. Your thermostat will be set to a certain temperature that is comfortable for you and your family. Generally, this is around 21 °C. If the temperature in your home dips below the setting in your thermostat, the furnace will kick in.
The furnace heats air that is blown into the air ducts by a blower fan. The blower fan also sucks in cool air through the return duct work. This cool air is then reheated by the furnace. Your central heating system is connected to your central cooling system, in that the air ducts that circulate warm air in the winter are also used to circulate cool air in the warmer months.
Room heaters can either be portable or built-in to your home. However, they run separately from your central heating system. Should your heating system be wall-mounted or built into your baseboards, they will also need to vent outdoors. This is to prevent harmful gasses from collecting indoors.
Instead of heating air to warm up your home, hydronic heaters use water. It works by using a boiler or tankless water heater to circulate water throughout your home’s piping. This heats up walls, floors and sometimes even furniture. Typically, hydronic heating is more energy efficient than a central heating system—however, it takes longer for a space to warm up using hydronic heating.
Heat pumps work like the inverse of an air conditioner. Your cooling system uses the chemical reaction of a coolant converting into a gas from a liquid—which has a cooling effect—to blow cold air throughout your home. However, when the refrigerant is compressed back into a liquid it releases warm air. A heat pump will blow this hot air through your home to create a warming effect.
This ability to produce warm and cold air makes a heat pump an ideal heating and cooling system for your home year-round. Additionally, heat pumps are more energy efficient than a furnace because they do not have to burn fuel.
Hybrid Heating Systems
A hybrid heating system uses a heat pump that is backed up by a furnace. When temperatures start plunging from sweater-weather to bundle-up-every-part-of-you, the furnace will turn on so that you and your family stay comfortable and warm. You can either program the temperature that you’d like the furnace to turn on or make the switch manually. While this system costs more than a typical central heating system, they are significantly more energy efficient—better for both your wallet in the long-term and the environment.
Solar panels are a clean form of energy that does not rely on burning fossil fuels to warm your home. Solar heating is a renewable energy source that can also help reduce your energy bill. However, solar panels are typically more expensive to install, don’t work with every roof type and require a lot of space.
Wood stoves are very adept at keeping small spaces warm—such as a cozy cabin or cottage, a single room, or tiny home. However, to use a wood stove, you need ready access to firewood. Firewood is available at most hardware stores and gas stations in Calgary, but it’s not a particularly efficient way to keep your home warm.
How Different Cooling Systems Work
How your home cools down in warm temperatures is part of your overall residential heating and cooling system. There is less variety in cooling systems for your home, however, there are still a number of different methods for keeping your Calgary home pleasantly cold as outdoor temperatures rise.
Central Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is the most common way Calgarians keep things cool in the summer. Your AC unit works by continuously converting a coolant from a liquid, into a gas, and back into a liquid again to repeat the process—as mentioned above. As the coolant runs on this loop, it releases a cooling effect as it changes from a liquid into a gas. This cooling effect is blown into your home. Generally, a different fan blows out the resulting warming effect when the gas is compressed back into a liquid to begin the cycle again.
Typically, the same ductwork that blows warm air from your heating system will also blow cold air from your cooling system throughout your home. While not all Calgary homes are built with a central air conditioning system, the expert technicians at Aire Serv of Calgary can install an AC system into your home.
Window and Portable AC Units
There are two main types of AC units that are not part of your home’s central heating and cooling system. Window AC units are attached to your window and may require professional installation. As the unit begins cooling the air in your home, it releases the byproduct of hot air out the window.
Likewise, a portable AC unit also uses your window to release hot air. However, it’s contained within your space as opposed to hanging off your window. Portable AC units can also be moved more easily throughout your home.
Ceiling Fans and Portable Fans
Fans are a standard means of cooling your home without the use of an AC unit. A pro tip for using a ceiling or portable fan to help keep you cool is to ensure the fan is turning in a counter clockwise direction. This pushes colder air down and creates a cool breeze.
Opening a window to allow cool air into your home at night—then closing the window when the outside temperatures get hot during the day—can help mitigate warm temperatures inside your home.
Longevity of Your Heating and Cooling System
Both your furnace and your central air conditioning system should last between 15 and 20 years. The best way to give your home’s heating and cooling system the longest lifespan possible is through regularly scheduled maintenance and cleaning services. We suggest having a professional clean and inspect your heating and cooling system at least once a year.
At Aire Serv of Calgary, we offer upkeep services for both your AC unit and your heating system. During a routine check-up, our courteous and expert team will clean your heating and cooling system from top to bottom. Throughout this thorough cleaning, we will inspect each part of your system to look for any signs of damage or wear to prevent the need for costly repairs or replacements down the line.
How to Increase the Efficiency of Your Heating and Cooling System
Scheduling annual maintenance and cleaning appointments for your home’s heating and cooling system is one of the best ways to prevent costly repairs, emergency situations, and having to replace your system entirely. This is key in ensuring that your system runs as efficiently as possible.
Maintenance is very important for your heating and cooling system because often the wear that shortens a furnace or AC unit’s lifespan is due to dust, dirt, and allergens accumulating within the machine. This build-up impacts your AC unit’s ability to cool correctly and your furnace’s ability to warm correctly because each machine has to work harder to do its job.
Additionally, the parts of your heating and cooling systems can be very delicate and complex to take apart and clean thoroughly. That is why this routine maintenance is best left in the hands of the professional team at Aire Serv of Calgary.
Age of Your System
As your heating and cooling system begins to age, it will start to work less efficiently and suffer breakdowns over time. This will impact your energy bill and possibly your family budget as you may have to deal with repairs. A good rule of thumb to adhere to is if your heating and cooling system is more than 15-years-old and has had multiple repairs needed over the last two years, it’s time to replace your system.
For newer heating and cooling systems, you should be able to see the efficiency rating of your model. The typical industry-standard ratings to look out for are as follows:
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the measure of efficiency by which the cooling process of heat pumps and air conditioners are rated. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the model is.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is the measure of efficiency for gas and oil-fired furnaces. This percentage tells you how much fuel is used to heat your home. This number also tells you how much fuel is wasted in heating your home. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the model is.
HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is the measurement of efficiency for the heating ability of a heat pump. Like the other industry-standard ratings, the higher the number the more efficient the model is.
Did you know that a programmable thermostat is an easy, affordable, and reliable way to help your heating and cooling system be more energy efficient? You can set the thermostat to automatically use less energy when there is no one in your home, or overnight when your family is sleeping.
For example, if most of your household is at school or work during the day, then you don’t need your furnace or AC unit running at full blast. Instead, you could set your thermostat to increase or decrease the temperature of your home depending on when your family arrives home.
Additionally, you can use a programmable thermostat to control the temperature of living spaces that are not being used. If your family doesn’t spend a lot of time in the basement, why heat it? Alternatively, if all your bedrooms are upstairs, why not consider heating the upstairs at night when everyone is sleeping—but heating it less during the day when your family is downstairs in the kitchen or living room? Using a programmable thermostat is a clever way to keep your energy bill down and to help your heating and cooling system be more efficient.