Proud Green Home of St. Louis HVAC Strategies
Good HVAC design, equipment, and installation actually begin with the design and layout of the home and how it is constructed.
Of course the system is all about the heating and cooling of the home but it is all about comfort and proper ventilation, which promotes better indoor air quality and therefore a healthier home. Better equipment and performance can be quite affordable in the home’s budget and years of operating costs through simple good design and construction.
|Geocomfort ground source heat pump system in the Proud Green Home of St. Louis. (right)|
If attention is paid to solar design, construction of an airtight building envelope, seal air leaks, and then analyze the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in relation to the conditions created by using these advanced building techniques, chances are very good that the HVAC equipment can be downsized.
Downsizing lowers the initial installation costs as well as future operating costs. Further, because focus has been on constructing the envelope of the house to perform better overall the HVAC system will run less often and more efficiently, which will lower operating and maintenance costs. This approach to HVAC design applies to your traditional electric or gas unit with blower, a heat pump, or, in the case of the PGH-STL: a geothermal unit.
In any case, a good knowledgeable HVAC contractor needs to be included on your team and a “best practice” design needs to be incorporated. This is a critical process that is dependent on the HVAC design and installation contractor keeping up to date with current equipment and building techniques and at least basic Building Science. It seems that most HVAC systems design as simply to compensate for fear of homeowners discomfort, no matter what. Great detail was not considered including solar orientation and building techniques. It seemed systems were designed as if the house was located in an area where the sun shone on all four sides all the time in the Summer and not at all in the Winter. This may be effective to compensate for other shortcomings in the planning and construction process but it can be very in-efficient and costly over a long period of time.
It brings to mind the old Jim Varney commercial about heat pumps. “They keep a-pumpin’ in the summer and a-pumpin’ in the winter until, tragically, they pump their little guts out!” Well, know you know why!
Traditionally, houses have been built with an electric or gas furnace and air conditioner. Although high-efficiency versions of HVAC equipment have been on the market for a while, they are just recently becoming more widespread as the cost of energy increases.
Read more about geothermal heating and cooling.
Matt Belcher Matt Belcher is a nationally recognized builder, author, trainer and consultant on the business of high performance building, with more than 30 years experience in the industry. He is the director of the High Performance Buildings Research Center, part of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Research Consortium at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a principle with Verdatek Solutions, a consulting firm in Wildwood, Mo. He serves on NAHB’s Board of Directors and as a chairman of NAHB’s Green Building & Energy sub-committee, also serving on NAHB’s Building Codes and Standards sub-committees. www