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HVAC Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Posted by Scott Mise | 09.22.2015

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There is so much involved in choosing a new home and it’s easy for first-time home buyers to overlook features that aren’t easily visible, like the heating and cooling system. Given Austin’s humid summers and cool winters, however, it’s important to know what kind of HVAC system you’re getting.  Some tips:

  • Determine the system type – While most homes in our area use furnaces, some do use boilers or heat pumps. The energy source used will affect your heating bills. If you use a furnace or boiler, find out if it’s fueled by natural gas, oil, propane, or another fuel.
  • Learn the system’s age – After 10 years, most systems are reaching the end of their lifespan. While a system can continue to perform for years longer, it’s at high risk for requiring major repairs or even complete replacement.
  • Find out the system’s efficiency rating – Although older systems are usually less efficient, you’ll save more with a high-efficiency system than with a mid-efficiency one, no matter the age. For a boiler or furnace, check the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). For a heat pump, review the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). Higher-efficiency systems also include advanced features that can improve their performance, such as variable-speed blower motors.
  • Check the warranty – Even if your system was under warranty when installed, the warranty may have expired or been voided because of improper maintenance, such as skipping annual inspections. Without a warranty, first-time home buyers are on the hook for the full cost of any repairs or parts replacements.
  • Request the results of the last inspection – Your heating and air conditioning system each require annual professional inspections to keep running at best efficiency and to prevent normal wear and tear from damaging the components. At the end of each inspection, your technician provides a report listing any issues with the system. This report can alert you to potential problems.

If you are among the many first-time home buyers confused about your HVAC system choices and maintenance requirements, contact us for help at Airco in Austin.