Home Heating and Cooling Systems

4 Sept, 2010

Today, I think most new homes go with central forced air heat that is either run on natural gas or propane. It is also rather easy to incorporate a central cooling system into the ductwork for this type of system as I did for my house. Because of the large southern windows my heating costs were very reasonable in the winter. And in the summer it really wasn’t a problem as I put reflective film on some of the windows, and kept the drapes on the south windows closed during the day.

When choosing a home heating and cooling system for your small house you will first want to make sure that all of the proper insulation steps have been accomplished and just as important is making sure the attic is properly insulated. The fact that heat rises makes this a very important step in energy costs. You will also want to choose windows that provide the proper thermal insulation necessary to help the heating and cooling system to run efficiently. The heating subcontractor will take all of these factors into consideration when helping you choose a system as well as the height of your ceilings, number and size of windows and doors.

radiant heating

Heating and cooling systems can be quite complex. This schematic shows a radiant system. Click on image for more detail. Image from Wikipedia.

If you choose a subcontractor to install the heating and cooling units you will want to ask questions about the size of the energy system and if the size being considered is appropriate for the size of your small house. Proper heating and cooling unit sizing and installation are key factors that determine whether or not your system will run at optimal efficiency.

A key point to remember when choosing your home heating and cooling system is to be certain the energy system is not oversized or too big for your small house. A system that is too large for the house will run as inefficiently as a system that is too small for the house. This will mean higher energy costs for you and a system that fails to keep the house at a comfortable temperature in both the heating and cooling aspects.

The size and position of the heating and cooling units should also allow ample space for service and maintenance. As a general rule you will want to have your home heating and cooling system checked on an annual basis to ensure performance at optimal efficiency. Annual maintenance includes cleaning, testing, replacing parts (if necessary), and inspection of the ductwork for any issues with regard to sealing, insulation, and possible leaks.

A nice added feature, if you can swing it into the budget of building of your small house, is under floor hot water heating, also known as radiant heat. Radiant heat makes all of the floors comfortable with a touch of warmth, which is nice if you live in a climate with cold winters. The feel of warm floors on bare feet is so comforting in the winter!

A radiant heating system runs clean and efficiently and when combined with the overall home heating and cooling system is energy efficient and cost effective. If it is not possible to include it now, you can always tell your heating subcontractor you are thinking about it and set everything up to add this feature later.

Whatever type of home heating and cooling system you choose for your small house make sure it is the appropriate size and stay faithful with the annual checkups and maintenance. Practicing these steps will ensure that your system will continue to run optimally and save you a lot of money in the long run.


Underfloor heating at Wikipedia.

Radiant heat at Energy.gov.