As summer approaches, people are taking action to prepare for the heat. While HVAC systems are a luxury for some, they are an absolute necessity in many locations across the country. As well as regulating temperature, many of these systems also help improve the air quality by removing allergens and pollutants.
If your existing system needs replacing or you’re buying an HVAC for the first time, you must choose the right appliance. Investing in a comprehensive system, like a Gree air conditioner, can be expensive, particularly if you want one to last over 15 years. They also contribute significantly to utility bills. Air conditioner use accounts for approximately 6% of all electricity generated in the US.
Choosing the right system is not only crucial for adequately treating the air in your home or office, but it is also crucial from a financial perspective. Although traditional systems are still effective, newer appliances may be more efficient in the long term. Here are our top picks for the best HVAC systems on the market.
Ductless Mini Split Systems
A mini split air conditioner is one of the most effective devices for combating extreme heat. It divides a building into specific zones where the temperature and air quality can be carefully controlled. These systems operate without ducting, making installation fast and straightforward. However, they use refrigerant lines, meaning a professional HVAC expert is generally needed for a safe install.
The two most common types of mini-split systems are single-zone and multi-zone. A single-zone system is best suited to a single room, an open floor plan, a studio, or a small apartment because it uses one indoor air handler and one outdoor condenser unit. The indoor handler is programmed to regulate the air within the zone it is placed.
A multi-zone system is essentially a combination of several single-zone appliances. It consists of 2 to 8 indoor air handlers (depending on the homeowner’s requirements) and one outdoor condenser unit. Each air handler can be programmed to control the temperature within a specific zone in a house.
Apart from the zone-specific cooling, the main advantage of a mini-split system is its efficiency. These devices waste very little energy and are relatively cheap to run compared to other HVAC systems. If you’re planning to use your air conditioner frequently this summer, a mini-split system is a fantastic option.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are some of the most popular temperature regulators in the US. Take a look at apartment buildings in any major city, and you’re bound to see scores of these units mounted on the windows.
The main reasons for their popularity are their affordability, efficiency of energy use, and range of BTU options. However, these factors are only relevant if you choose the right device for your space.
Before investing in a window unit, it’s advisable to carry out an energy audit. This inspection is conducted by an energy expert that determines the consumption capacity and energy efficiency of a building. Depending on your home’s size and consumption capacity, you may require a window unit with a set number of BTUs.
However, there are several downsides to window units. Aside from their unattractive appearance, window boxes are unwieldy and difficult to move from room to room if you need to cool other areas of your home. They also leave your home vulnerable to intruders.
Central HVAC System
A traditional ducted central HVAC system is the most common type of air conditioner found in the USA. These are effective appliances that can provide adequate cooling for large buildings.
These operate using ductwork and an outdoor compressor unit. A fan sends the cool air from the outdoor unit through the ducts into various rooms around a house or building. Central HVAC systems use a return mechanism that draws warm air from rooms through the ducting and into the outdoor unit, where it is then cooled and redispersed indoors. The temperature is controlled using a thermostat.
The main disadvantages of these systems are the lack of efficiency and the ductwork. Ducts tend to gather dust and allergens, which are subsequently spread through the air. They also lose a significant amount of energy, increasing your carbon footprint and utility bills.
Portable Air Conditioner
A cost-effective and temporary solution to soaring summer temperatures is a portable air conditioner. Although the most common types of these transportable devices are small, they are available with a large number of BTUs.
These units are portable and freestanding, allowing for precision cooling within specific areas of a home. However, most air conditioners need to be near a window or door to expel the warm air it gathers.
Portable air conditioners can be converted to permanent devices, but they are generally less effective than ductless systems, window units, and central HVACs. If your location only experiences occasional hot summer days, a portable system is a great option. However, it may not be very effective when the weather is consistently hot.
Dual Fuel HVAC System
A dual fuel HVAC system uses a gas furnace and an electric heat pump to regulate the air in a building. It switches between both fuel sources to provide good air quality and temperature control, and energy efficiency. The alternation between these fuels depends on the outdoor temperature.
When the weather is hot, these systems operate similarly to traditional HVAC systems. They draw in warm air, compress and cool it before sending cold air into your home. In winter, the system generally switches from the regular heat pump mechanism to the gas furnace method of air treatment.
Dual Fuel HVAC systems are efficient and waste less energy than traditional HVACs. The main issue with these systems is that they are costly to install. Owners may not recuperate their investment in the long run.
Stay Cool This Summer
HVAC systems are often some of the most expensive home appliances that people invest in. Although it is tempting to look for an appliance that is cheap to buy and install, the most critical consideration is long-term savings and efficient cooling during the hottest months of the year. A quality HVAC can last over 15 years, meaning annual savings add up over time.
Many modern systems are smart technology-enabled, so users can access their devices remotely, using a mobile app that controls the device and tracks efficiency.