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New-Construction HVAC Selection: Tips to Make the Perfect Choice

new home construction hvac

Building your own home or custom workspace can be so exciting. Finally, you can have everything just the way you want it instead of having to make someone else’s vision work for you.

But having the chance to bring your own vision to life can also add to the stress of the process – you want to do everything right the first time. Plus, if you are like most homeowners, your budget isn’t unlimited and mistakes can cost you.

Choosing your new-construction HVAC system may not be the most glamorous aspect of your new-build process, but get it right and we guarantee it will be one of the comfiest!

From heating and cooling options to ductwork decisions, cost estimates to installation approaches, learn what you need to know to make the perfect HVAC decision.

1. To Duct or Not to Duct

In past eras, any new construction consisting of more than two rooms would automatically be a candidate for ducting and installation of a central HVAC system.

Ducted systems

Central HVAC systems with a traditional air conditioner paired with a traditional furnace are still the reigning favorite and give you the most options for how to combine your heating and cooling equipment.

Heat pumps are becoming more popular today and also pair well with ductwork. Compact and energy-efficient air-to-air heat pumps are great for smaller spaces. For larger spaces with more available land, geothermal heat pumps offer the greatest energy efficiency and a very long useful life.

But today, you have another cooling option that doesn’t require ductwork: the ductless mini-split.

Ductless systems

A ductless mini-split offers quiet, efficient cooling and heating along with the option for zoned thermostat control, which means you can adjust the temperature as needed for up to eight different zones.

Ductless components are non-invasive, simple and compact. The indoor component can be installed on the wall or ceiling. The outdoor component connects to the indoor system by means of a single slim cable.

If you live in an area that doesn’t require air conditioning, a heating boiler paired with a radiator system is yet another option for non-ducted heating. As a perk, a heating boiler can heat your water, too.

2. Fuel Type: Electric, Gas, Propane, Oil, Off-Grid, Combination?

Homes and workplaces today have a dizzying array of options when it comes to fuel.

Fossil fuels are slowly being phased out in favor of more planet-friendly resources, but this process takes time and sometimes traditional fuel sources are still the most readily available and economical choice.

It can be smart to survey power costs for your area before deciding to go all-electric, gas or propane-powered, for instance. Don’t just look at the price today but also examine the trends going back a few years to get a good idea of what you will spend annually (talking to your neighbors can also help here).

Off-grid options like solar and geothermal can require more up-front investment. However, to compensate, they are historically low-maintenance options with a useful life of up to 50 years, meaning these systems typically pay for themselves early on and can even make you money if you can sell unused stored power back to the power company.

In many cases, it is possible to mix and match electric, gas and off-grid options to conserve energy and keep your power bills manageable.

3. Ventilation: How & How Much

As concerns about our planet’s dwindling natural resources continue to increase, there is rising pressure on the construction industry to create new air-tight construction practices to conserve energy.

This has been great for the average homeowner’s power bill but not so great for people’s health. As indoor spaces become more airtight, the ventilation that ensures a continuous supply of fresh, oxygenated air is increasingly absent.

This means it is no longer enough to open a window or door on nice days, especially during the hot summers and long cold winters when the result is a corresponding need to crank the cool or heat.

Ceiling fans aid greatly in air circulation, which can help you conserve energy and lower power bills by inching your thermostat up without feeling noticeably warmer, but they don’t serve a useful ventilation purpose.

In the Toronto area, all new construction is now mandated to include a heat recovery ventilation system – you can think of it as a set of mechanical lungs for your home, since most new construction spaces can no longer “breathe” on their own.

Heat recovery ventilation not only ensures a steady supply of fresh incoming air but it also helps conserve otherwise wasted heat energy and balance the humidity inside your home.

4. Energy Efficiency Appliances & Fixtures

Once you have created your master list of systems and accessories, it is time to get down to the business of choosing the specific appliances and fixtures to outfit your new space.

From low-flow faucets and fixtures to high-efficiency HVAC units to tank vs. tankless water heaters and more, today’s appliances and accessories elevate conserving energy to a fine art.

Choosing the perfect mix of energy-efficient appliances and fixtures is one part selecting complementary systems and one part ensuring your space is set up to maximize their impact.

Selecting the right insulation, applying strategic weather stripping, identifying the optimal thermostat location, installing the right window type and even choosing landscaping that provides shade can all further reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly energy bill.

Why Choose Bi-Temp for Your New-Construction HVAC Needs?

We are licensed and insured to consult on air conditioning, heating, water and other needs for new-construction projects throughout Ontario.

We can also help you with expert installation on all makes and models of new systems and apply on your behalf for all available energy efficiency credits and rebates.

Get in Touch

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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Is Your A/C Winding Down Just as Summer Heats Up? 8 Warning Signs to Watch For

sweaty man due to broken ac

Summer is not the season to have your air conditioner suddenly conk out on you.

Yet of course this is the time of year when A/C outages are most likely to occur, since you are using the heck out of it as temperatures climb.

If you do experience an A/C outage, don’t panic. We are just a phone call away and we can get you back up and running (and cooling down) in a jiffy.

But if you know the most common warning signs to watch for, you may be able to stave off an actual outage by making some timely air conditioning repairs.

In this post, learn about eight warning signs that your air conditioner needs maintenance.

1. You start hearing things

An air conditioner in the prime of its life that is running smoothly isn’t going to be “talking” to you. And while it can be tempting to ignore the first minor attempts your A/C unit makes to strike up a conversation, you can be sure that if a whisper doesn’t work, it will escalate to a yell.

Bangs, clangs, squeaking, clanks, rattles, buzzing, whining and low-level white noise – these are all clear signs that your air conditioner needs some overdue attention.

2. Your house smells… funny

Many homeowners don’t initially notice this warning sign because it is easy to get acclimated to your home’s “homey” odour. Using fragranced candles, air fresheners and perfumed household cleaning products can also mask the scent of an air conditioner that is starting to stink.

But if one day you walk inside your home and your nose wrinkles, and all efforts you make to locate the source of the scent still leaves you coming up short, the culprit might be your HVAC system.

If you have central air conditioning that uses a system of ducts, the issue might also be microbial matter (mould, mildew, bacteria) that has colonized your ducts and is sending out its unique stinky signature along with each blast of cooled air.

3. Your home seems more humid

Humidity often increases in the warm summer months, but if your air conditioning system is working properly, you should only feel it when you are outside your house. When your indoor air starts to seem warmer and more humid no matter how much you run your A/C, this may point back to a problem with the air conditioning unit itself.

Older homes with lots of natural ventilation (leaks, cracks) may also benefit from refreshing the weatherstripping, caulking or insulation. In newer homes built to be airtight, the addition of a heat recovery ventilator can help your air conditioner cope with a lack of natural ventilation.

4. The air coming out of your registers feels warm

If there is one deeply dissatisfying experience most homeowners are familiar with, it is running a cooling cycle only to feel warm air blowing out of your registers and vents! Why does this happen?

It could be any number of things, from restricted air flow to a refrigerant leak to an accidental nudge of the thermostat setting from “cool” to “fan” mode.

Anytime refrigerant issues are involved, it is always best to call a pro. Refrigerant may work wonders for cooling down your indoor air, but it is a potent toxin and should only be handled by a professional who knows how to work with it and dispose of it safely.

5. You start to miss the sound of silence between A/C cycles

An air conditioner that never seems to stop running is not only burning a hole through your wallet energy-wise, but it also probably isn’t doing its best work in keeping your home cool.

Too-frequent A/C cycles can point to anything from an improperly sized or installed unit to a simple need for a cleaning and some minor repairs.

6. You hear your A/C working but very little air comes out of your registers.

When your air conditioner is running but you don’t feel much air coming through your registers, this doesn’t always mean your air conditioner itself is malfunctioning. It could also signal an issue with blocked air ducts or simply a dirty air filter.

But there are times when the air conditioner itself is to blame, and often the reason is a malfunctioning blower motor.

7. Your ceiling springs a leak

Finding a water leak inside your home is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through as a homeowner. It can also turn into one of the most expensive issues if you don’t quickly find and remedy the issue.

When your air conditioner starts leaking, it could be something simple like a blocked drainage hose or an overflowing drip pan. But it could also mean there is a refrigerant leak somewhere in your system, and this always requires some help from an HVAC pro.

8. Your cooling bills start increasing

Keeping a close eye on your energy bills can give you an early heads-up that your A/C isn’t doing its best work. When all else remains the same but you start paying more to keep your home cool, it is time to schedule A/C maintenance!

Earn Up to $100 Just By Mentioning Your A/C Service!

How does a cool extra $50 or $100 in your pocket sound? 

All you have to do to earn this extra cash is start telling your network about the great A/C or heating service you get with Bi-Temp - make sure they mention your name when they call to schedule service.

For a furnace or A/C purchase, you earn $50. For a combo package, boiler or installation, you earn $100.

Get in Touch

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online

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3 Types of Home A/C Systems: Which One Do You Need?

27C thermostat

For many people, choosing a new air conditioning system can feel overwhelming.

You want to pick out a system that is sized properly for your space so you get maximum value for minimal energy cost, and that doesn’t require you to make expensive modifications to your space.

In this post, learn about the three main types of home air conditioning systems and how to determine which system is best for your space.

Meet the Three Types of Air Conditioners

There are three main types of air conditioning systems in use today, and each one can work well in certain types of spaces.

1. Split Air Conditioning System

The split air conditioner is the type most homeowners are already familiar with. This system houses half of its components indoors and the other half remains outside. Inside, you will find the blower fan and evaporator coil, while the compressor and condenser coil remains outside.

This type of A/C unit, often called a “central air conditioner,” uses a system of air ducts to conduct cooled air to different parts of the home. It also has an air filter to help trap airborne particles and remove them from the air.

Split A/C systems can be as simple or complex as a space demands, serving single or multi-story homes and integrating with third-party appliances such as air filtration systems, ultraviolet purifiers, heat recovery ventilators and more.

2. Packaged Air Conditioning System

Packaged A/C systems also rely on a system of indoor air ducts to transport cooled air throughout your home or office.

These systems get their name from the single unit design – instead of splitting off the condenser and compressor from the blower and evaporator, all are housed together inside the home or on the roof.

These systems are particularly popular where space is at a premium, in hotter climates and when a rooftop installation is preferred.

3. Ductless Air Conditioning Systems

Ductless A/C systems have been popular in Asia and Europe for many years but are just now starting to make an appearance in North America. Their rising popularity is well-justified.

Ductless air conditioners take up far less space than ducted A/Cs and free up valuable floor space in cramped quarters. Since only a small hole is necessary for mounting on a wall, they are also far less invasive than many ducted systems.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not require installation of an air duct system to work. And they can be set up to work in zones to adjust temperature differently in different parts of the home or office, making for more affordable, efficient cooling.

Sizing Your New Air Conditioning System

The next step is to determine what size and capacity of air conditioner is the right fit for the size and configuration of your space.

In past decades, it was popular to take a “the bigger the better” approach to sizing air conditioners. We now know this is a mistake, and a costly one at that. Installing an A/C unit too big for your house can drive up your utility bills, create indoor humidity and generate extra repairs.

There are several measures that can help determine which air conditioner is sized properly for your space and cooling needs.

Cooling capacity

Cooling capacity is a term that measures how quickly and effectively an A/C unit can cool your space in 60 minutes.

Two different measurements are used to calculate cooling capacity: BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and tonnage. It doesn’t matter which unit of measurement is used. What is important to know is that 12,000 BTUs is equal to 1 ton of cooling capacity.

SEER ratings

SEER is a term that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You can think of this like the mpg (miles per gallon) ratings for various cars. Some cars just get more miles per gallon of gas.

In the same way, some air conditioners just get more cooling capacity per unit of energy. SEER is not tied to the size of the unit, however, but to the local climate where you live. Two identically sized units can and often do have very different SEER ratings.

The best option here is to look for an air conditioner that is Energy Star-certified. This basically means the A/C unit uses less energy to do the same work as other similar units.

Load calculation

As you might imagine, it can take some number crunching to match the right cooling capacity and SEER rating to the size and configuration of your space.

This is called the load calculation, and it factors in more than 10 different variables to arrive at the right unit for you.

Get a FREE, No Obligation A/C Quote

Is your existing A/C unit starting to show signs of old age? Are you in the market for a new unit but are not sure what size, configuration or options to choose?

Let us help you! One of our prompt, professional and highly trained service technicians will meet you at your home to analyze your cooling needs and generate a free, no-obligation quote for a properly sized, highly efficient and affordable air conditioner.

Complete this online form to schedule your quote.

Get in Touch

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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Is Your A/C Ready for Spring? How to Know For Sure!

air conditioner maintenance

The first day of spring has come and gone. Even though it may not feel like it yet, warmer weather is just around the corner!

It nearly goes without saying that your furnace is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Your air conditioner, on the other hand, is looking ahead into the busiest season of its whole year.

Are you feeling confident your A/C is up to the challenge?

While it may feel tempting to believe your air conditioner’s lengthy winter rest was sufficient to shake off any performance issues from last summer, unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

A better strategy is to learn the warning signs that indicate your air conditioner needs maintenance or repairs and take care of these minor issues before they become major.

A/C Maintenance Can Control Rising Cooling Costs

While spending money on utilities is not typically on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, at the same time, it sure can feel nice to stay comfy and cool inside as temperatures heat up.

But you don’t want to pay a premium to do so, either.

According to Natural Resources Canada, approximately three percent of the energy bill you pay each year is devoted to cooling your space. Knowing this can help you track cooling expenses over time. Increases can be a warning sign that all is not well with your air conditioner.

In fact, according to the Department of Energy, simply changing out the A/C filter monthly can reduce what you spend to run your air conditioner by up to 15 percent.

So imagine how much more efficient your air conditioner will be after being cleaned, tuned-up, lubricated and serviced!

7 Reasons You Are Paying More for Cooling

While air conditioning technology has delivered skyrocketing energy efficiency in recent years, the actual mechanics of how A/C systems work to deliver cool air has stayed consistent over time.

This means that if your cooling bills are increasing, chances are good one of these seven common problems may be to blame!

Leaking refrigerant

Refrigerant is that “magic ingredient” that keeps your air conditioner blowing cool air. When levels get low due to leaks or other causes, you may notice yourself cranking the A/C to stay cool.

Improper sensor position

This is particularly important for window unit and zoned A/C systems, which rely on sensors to adjust temperature cycles accordingly. If the sensor is pointing in the wrong direction, dirty or in the path of direct sunlight, the A/C unit may cycle more than is needed.

Thermostat calibration

An improperly calibrated thermostat can cause your air conditioner to think it needs to run more than it really does to meet your cooling needs.

Drain blockage

As your air conditioner cycles, it creates moisture (condensate) that then needs to be drained away from the unit. When the drain gets blocked, this often triggers a float switch that sends a warning signal to the unit itself to power down.

If your A/C unit frequently short-cycles (turns itself off prematurely) and you feel like you are always fighting to stay cool enough, a clogged drain may be the culprit.

Clogged air filter

The air filter operates much like your air conditioner’s “lungs.” Its job is to keep dirt, dust, debris and detritus from blowing into the interior components of the A/C unit and causing damage or blockage.

But over time, as the air filter traps more and more debris, it becomes clogged. At this point, it has to work harder and harder to push air through the filter and out into your home. This will run up your energy bill and lower cooling efficiency at the same time.

Control failure

A series of breakers, fuses and electrical contacts keep critical components of the A/C unit from wearing out or overheating. If the electrical controls are not functioning properly, the blower motor or condenser fan motor can overheat and stop working, causing major repair needs.

Duct problems

All kinds of things can happen as ductwork ages. Ducts can begin to sag or even tear away from the connection points. Leaks and tears may occur as material degrades or unwelcome winter visitors like insects or small animals make their way inside.

Ducts can also fill up with debris over the years, acting like a clogged filter to slow down air flow. When debris backs up into the A/C unit, a major outage or fire hazard is possible.

A/C Maintenance Ensures You Pay Only for Cooling You Really Need

If your A/C unit is still new and under warranty, scheduling annual preventative maintenance can be a requirement for keeping your warranty active.

For an older unit, preventative maintenance can make the difference between controlling cooling costs and watching them skyrocket.

For a late-life A/C unit, maintenance can extend its useful life and delay the need for costly upgrades.

Here at Bi-Temp, our recommended safety inspection and preventative maintenance A/C service includes each of the following:

  • Refrigerant leak test, level check and refill (if necessary)

  • Inspection of all connections, fuses, breakers, thermostat, sensors, components

  • Inspection and cleaning of drainage pan and hose

  • Lubrication of all moving parts, fans, motors

  • Replacement or cleaning of filter (depending on filter type)

  • Thorough interior and exterior cleaning, including evaporator and condenser coils

  • Thermostat calibration and blower motor/cooling cycle efficiency test

  • Inspection of ductwork and repair recommendations as needed

  • Recommendation of minor repairs

  • Overall safety inspection of the unit, components and A/C operation

Get in Touch

Take advantage of our nifty spring offer: schedule your air conditioner inspection and tune-up service and we will install a 1-inch air filter at the time of service, absolutely FREE!

Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.

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