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Home Owning 101: Everything You Need to Know About HVACs

HVAC systems are essential to interior climate control and require routine maintenance, care, and replacement. Knowing how different types of HVAC systems affect energy costs and interior climate is essential when considering a new home.
HVAC systems are essential to interior climate control and require routine maintenance, care, and replacement. Knowing how different types of HVAC systems affect energy costs and interior climate is essential when considering a new home.

Welcome to the mysterious world of the HVAC. What is it exactly? What do those four letters mean? How might an HVAC influence your decision to buy a new home?

You may have heard the acronym before — maybe you’ve even tossed it out in casual conversation amongst friends or in line at the Home Depot, in hopes of picking up on context clues. You know it’s in some way related to those floor vents in your home and assume it’s some ambiguous apparatus, too large to comprehend, but necessary to daily life — like the iCloud.

Wonder no more, friend. We’re here to delve into the ins and outs of HVAC systems so you’ll know what it does, how it works, and which kind you’ll want to look for in a potential new home.

The Basics

The acronym HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition — encompassing all that an HVAC system does for a home. HVAC is the human answer to mother nature’s weather patterns, differing climates, and fluctuating temperatures. It’s how we control our interior environment, making it comfortable for living occupants no matter what the world is doing outside.

The HVAC system regulates temperature by pushing out hot or cold air, filtering the air currently moving through the home, and controlling humidity through distribution and air movement.

Types and Functions of HVAC Units

Depending on the home’s layout, climate of the area, or needs of the home’s residents - there are many options when it comes to HVACs. If your focus is energy efficiency, a certain type of HVAC will best suit your needs. however, if you’re looking for quick heating or cooling, another type might be best to choose.

Split and Window AC Units

Window AC’s are not just a thing of the past — they are often employed to cool smaller spaces, for budgetary reasons. They can also be extremely useful in cooling smaller, segmented sections of a house, like an attic loft or garage apartment. A window unit pulls air over internal coils, pushing hot air outside and cool air into the home.

Split air conditioners work better in larger scale spaces. This system is split into an internal air compressor or furnace and an external unit — either an air conditioner or heating pump. Air or heat will travel from the outer unit, through ducts, and be distributed throughout the residential space.

Package Heating & Cooling Units

These all-in-one units are especially useful in areas of the Southeastern United States, where homes are less likely to have basements or crawl spaces. The heating and cooling mechanisms are contained in one package, and can be placed outside of the house or on the roof. There are a variety of package heating and cooling systems with available modifications, depending on your home’s needs.

Central AC Systems

These units can either be split systems or packaged and are the go-to choice for large scale, residential buildings and private homes. Warm air is sucked through intake valves, filtered to remove dust and pollen, ran over the interior evaporative coil (which removes heat from the air), and pushed back out through the vents in your home — this time, as cool, dry air.

This system is best for private homes for a few reasons. The actual unit sits outside of the home, meaning a quieter operation but is controlled through a simple interior thermostat. The air filtration system can benefit allergy sufferers, those with respiratory issues, and those who live in cities with poorer air quality.

Why is this Important for Home Buyers?

Your HVAC controls your home’s entire environment. It could cost you a ton of money in repairs, be a drain on your energy bill, or even make weird popping noises at night because of poor installation.

Take into consideration duct design — when house hunting, ask the home inspector for general information about the air ducts: size, shape, and condition can affect utility costs. The inspector can also inform you regarding leaks and duct insulation.

It’s also important to consider the age of the HVAC system. Air conditioners should be replaced every 10 years — furnaces every 15. An experienced realtor can get this information for you from the home seller. They should also be able to offer any maintenance records or upgrades done to the unit throughout its life.

A lot of thought, care, and attention already goes into buying a house — now you have to worry about the HVAC too? A careful inspection of a home’s HVAC can save you costly repairs and replacement down the road. What’s more, a savvy realtor can often use the age, state, or type of HVAC as a negotiating piece to bargain down the price. They also might be able to negotiate replacement of the HVAC unit into the sale.

Whether you’re a first time buyer or veteran house-flipper, relying on an experienced realtor can make the home buying process much easier. Clever Partner Agents are experts in their field and can guide you through the house hunting process. They’ll can accurately advise on which type of inspections are necessary and what should be repaired before purchase. Call Clever today to get started on your home buying adventure!


Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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