Apartment Heating and Cooling Units

Keeping your tenants comfortable throughout the year is vital to successfully leasing apartments. When it's time to replace apartment heating and cooling systems, you have several options to choose from. Selecting the right units for your building entails understanding apartment-specific considerations like airflow, which may affect your choice. Fortunately, these systems come in various configurations, so there's a perfect fit for any apartment.

In this post, we'll guide you through some things to consider when buying heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units for apartments and outline your options to help you feel confident in your choice. 

The Problem With Airflow in Apartments

As a property manager, you've probably had problems with airflow at one point or another. The average apartment's design doesn't allow for the same amount of air movement as traditional freestanding homes. Largely, this lack of airflow comes from apartments having fewer windows as a whole. Windowless, humid rooms, like bathrooms and laundry rooms, are also common. Outdated HVAC units only emphasize these issues.

Without proper airflow, dust accumulates and an apartment can become stagnant. Poor airflow does more than reduce air quality. It can also make apartments insufferably hot during the warmer months of the year, which can cause utility bills to skyrocket. If you pay for your tenants' energy costs, you may lose revenue. Poor ventilation — especially in humid rooms — can also encourage mold growth and paint damage.

Consider installing residential AC systems designed for apartment use to avoid these problems.  

What Should You Consider When Choosing Heating and Cooling Units for Apartments?

Your building's layout and your needs will impact which heating and cooling units are the best fit for your condos. Each building is different, and you may be able to install some options with your on-site maintenance team, whereas other configurations may require a professional's services. When shopping for the right heating and cooling units for your apartments, consider the following factors: 

Size 

One of the most important factors to consider is the size of the unit, which should suit the apartment's square footage.  An under- or oversized HVAC unit may cause your energy bills to increase.

When your cooling or heating system has excessive capacity, it doesn't work as efficiently because it uses more energy to provide cooled or heated air for less space. It will also start and stop constantly, which causes premature wear and tear, requiring more maintenance and shortening the unit's life cycle.

On the other hand, if the system has insufficient capacity, it won't heat or cool your space adequately, making the apartment less comfortable. Attempting to heat or cool an area too large for the system will lead to premature wear and tear because the system will struggle to keep up.

HVAC Installation Ability 

Some cooling and heating systems are incompatible with certain buildings. Central AC, for instance, needs ductwork, and some structures originally built with central air may support the required upgrades for a system with ducts. If this situation is the case for your property, you'll have to consider other options. Fortunately, you can find plenty of high-performing, ductless HVAC units for apartments and condos.

Zones

Packaged air conditioners have everything in one cabinet.

Tenants may divide larger apartments into various areas with their own uses. In traditional or closed floor plans, your renters may want to keep their living room cozy while turning down the temperature in their bedroom at night. Multi-tenant apartments may also require separate thermostats if the living spaces share an HVAC unit.

If you'd like different zones of an apartment to be cooled or heated to different temperatures, you'll have to pick a system that has that capacity. 

Warranty 

When shopping for heating or AC units, consider the warranty included with each unit as well. If something goes wrong, a high-quality warranty can be a lifesaver. Although most units do come with some type of guarantee, they're not created equal by any means. The warranty length varies from one brand to the next and covers different things. While some cover labor and parts if the unit breaks down, others will only cover some parts of the unit, like the pump or condenser. 

Ensure you read your warranty carefully before buying a unit so that there are no surprises if something needs repairs or replacements. Look for a fair, comprehensive warranty that adds value to your equipment.

Centralized vs. Decentralized Units

You know what to look for when searching for HVAC for apartments, so let's go over the available options. When choosing your system, you'll choose between centralized and decentralized systems. Let's take a closer look at each and outline some reasons you may choose one over the other.

Decentralized Heating Systems 

Instead of one unit that distributes heat to the whole building, decentralized heating systems have individualized units that control the temperature in a single location or room. A decentralized heating system keeps heating costs to a minimum by allowing different building areas to be controlled separately. 

Keeping an entire space heated can be costly and unnecessary, so decentralized heating systems are often a practical solution for apartments with more square footage. 

Some benefits of decentralized heating systems include: 

  • They're easier and less costly to install.
  • They allow you to control individual rooms more easily.
  • They can be more cost-effective in larger apartments.  

Central Systems

Centralized heating systems generate heat from a central source in the building. Heat travels from that location to the various rooms in the building so that the air reaches a consistent temperature, set at the thermostat. 

Centralized heating is frequently combined with cooling and ventilation systems, providing a complete HVAC system that can control temperature, airflow and humidity throughout the building from a single source. 

The benefits of central heating include: 

  • Users can control it easily from one central thermostat.
  • It provides consistent, comfortable temperatures from one room to the next.
  • It is generally driven by highly efficient, heat-generation mechanisms.
  • The centralized installation means fewer possible problem sites for repairs if the system breaks down.
  • The heating costs over time are lower.

There are two kinds of central air conditioners: split systems and packaged units

Split Systems

Central split systems have an outdoor metal cabinet containing the compressor and condenser and an indoor cabinet for the evaporator. In many split-system AC configurations, the indoor part also features an air handler or furnace. The evaporator coil is located in the cabinet or main supply duct of this heat pump or furnace. The split system is the most affordable central AC you can install if your apartments have furnaces but no air conditioners,. 

Packaged

Packaged air conditioners have all components in one cabinet.

In packaged central air conditioners, the condenser, evaporator and compressor are located in one cabinet, generally placed on a concrete slab or roof next to the building's foundation. 

The air supply and return ducts come from indoors via the roof or exterior wall to connect with the packaged AC, which is generally found outside. Packaged air conditioners tend to include a natural gas furnace or electric heating coils. This combination of central heating and air conditioning eliminates the need for a separate indoor furnace. 

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

Ductless mini-splits, also known just as mini-splits, are cooling and heating systems that allow you to control climates and temperatures in individual rooms. They're great for many residential, light commercial, and industrial situations, and they suit apartment buildings, too. Decentralized HVAC with a ductless air conditioning unit is perfect for giving apartments the smallest possible footprint.

Many apartments lack the space for a central unit inside or outside the building. Ductless mini-split units are popular because you can install them on any exterior wall. The condenser — which stays outside — and the air handler are compact, and the system is quiet and efficient. These qualities make ductless mini-split systems perfect for small apartments or heating and cooling separate rooms.

PTAC Units

Packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs) are ductless, self-contained AC units that heat and cool small areas. Most commonly found under windows of many hotels in the United States, PTACs lower costs and improve energy efficiency in apartments, hospitals, hotels, senior living facilities and residential add-ons such as sunrooms. PTACs cool a single zone, making them perfect for small apartments with a single bedroom.

PTACs are available with reverse-cycle heat pumps or electric heat. PTAC dimensions are standardized at several sizes:

  • 40 inches by 15 inches
  • 42 inches by 16 inches
  • 36 inches by 15 inches

These systems are available in four cooling capacities that range from 7,000 to 17,000 BTUs. 

These relatively compact models are efficient, offer high heating and cooling capabilities and are fairly easy to install. Straightforward installation, energy-efficient usage and low maintenance costs mean PTACs are an affordable HVAC solution for small spaces. Due to their popularity in the hospitality industry, many have advanced digital controls for ease of use. Plus, their reliability means your tenants can stay comfortable without calling your maintenance team as often.

How Do You Save Money on Heating and Cooling?

Making careful decisions about the systems you choose, your maintenance schedules and your property itself can help you save money. Cutting back on energy expenses is important for several reasons.

If you're the manager of an apartment complex and include utilities in the price you charge for rent, it is imperative that you manage energy costs if you want your business to survive. Your tenants are paying a set price within their monthly payments for the energy they use, and this arrangement stays the same regardless of the utility bills. 

When energy costs are high or fluctuate, you end up paying the difference. This reduces your revenue and making your rental property less profitable. You might not be able to compete with bigger operations without efficient HVAC systems because utilities may exceed your budget. 

Efficient, cost-effective HVAC operation will keep your renters comfortable and happy, even if your tenants pay their own utility bills. After all, saving money is important to them, too. Expensive energy bills due to outdated apartment HVAC systems could convince residents to move to units with newer models. Losing those tenants can hurt your profits, so quality HVAC units for condos are wise investments.

5 Tips to Lower Heating and Cooling Costs

Lower heating and cooling costs with these five tips!

Keeping down your overhead costs as an apartment manager is essential to your property's success. To lower the energy costs of your apartment complex, consider the five tips below: 

  1. Find places where air may escape: Seal these places by adding weather stripping or caulking. Keeping extreme temperatures outside and heated or cooled air inside should help reduce energy costs because the HVAC unit will achieve consistent temperatures faster and run less often to maintain them.
  2. Add insulation: Common areas that could benefit from more insulation include basements, crawl spaces and attics. Insulating in these places can keep intruding temperatures from affecting your tenant's spaces. What's more, these spaces may not have direct heating or cooling, so insulation will make them more comfortable.
  3. Install energy-efficient products: Look to install appliances with EnergyStar labeling. These items will consume less energy and stay efficient for a long time. When thinking about the different kinds of appliances to give your tenants, consider how much electricity they'll need to operate daily. Then, multiply that number by 365 and multiply that total by the number of residences you manage to understand how much energy your properties may use each year.
  4. Help your tenants conserve energy: Let your tenants know about energy-saving features and give them advice on maximizing efficiency. Make sure they understand how to use their system, and ask them to let you know if the unit isn't working properly. Correct usage and prompt repairs can help you keep costs low.
  5. Perform or schedule planned maintenance: Ensuring your HVAC units work as they should is essential to lowering energy costs. Annual maintenance saves you money in the long run by catching wear and tear before it develops into costly repairs. Your residents will be the first people to realize that a unit needs attention outside of your planned maintenance schedule.

Saving money doesn't necessarily mean cutting back on HVAC usage, so you can maintain comfortable temperatures in your apartment buildings. The tips above will help your residents avoid the summer heat and stay warm and cozy during the cold months while still saving you money.

Choose a new, reliable system for your building today at Ingram's Water and Air.

Ingrams Water and Air carries high quality heating and cooling for apartments.
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