Before Buying a New HVAC System, Ask These 10 Questions

An HVAC system is a pricey investment, but they are essential to most homes. Heating and cooling help us to live comfortably in a variety of weather conditions. When an HVAC system needs replacing, knowing where to begin can be daunting. However, there are many questions to consider when buying a new HVAC system. From the kind of system you need to how much a new system will cost (and everything between), there are a lot of key factors. Use this guide to help you figure out the details so you can feel confident in finding the right HVAC system for your home.

What Type of System Do You Need?

Choosing the right HVAC system is not as easy as running to the store to buy the first one you see. It strongly depends on a number of things including the size, capacity, and functionality that will be the best fit for your home. You should always consider what parameters your HVAC system will need to meet to work efficiently.

HVAC systems come with a variety of designs and specs. Some of the most popular units include central air conditioning, heat pumps, and ductless mini-split systems. Central air allows you to maintain comfortable temperatures throughout the entire home with the use of a split system or a packaged unit. Heat pumps actually absorb excessive amounts of heat inside the home and release it outside. For the ability to control temperatures in specific rooms of a house independently, a ductless mini-split system would be a better choice.

Additionally, systems such as smart HVAC units offer technological upgrades like controlling the temperature from your phone and even operating on an adjustable schedule. While smart features are not a necessity for buying a new furnace or air conditioner system, they do offer a certain amount of luxury and convenience that traditional systems do not have.

What Size Do You Need?

The size of your HVAC unit will depend on the energy efficiency and size of your property. A larger home will need a unit that can generate more than a smaller home. It is important to understand the capacity of HVAC systems and how they are measured to properly find an HVAC unit that is most suitable for your house.

Buying a new HVAC system that offers too little heating and cooling capacity will provide inadequate temperature control. An HVAC system that offers too much cooling and heating capacity can be equally inefficient. You want the system that's just right.


The capacity of heating systems is measured by BTU (British Thermal Unit). This measurement is equal to the amount of heat that is needed to raise a pound of water by a single degree. Input capacity measures the amount of gas that is actually burned while the output capacity is how much usable heat is generated. As a general rule, a unit that has a higher BTU rating will have greater heating capacity than a unit with a smaller BTU rating.


Air conditioners work on a different capacity measurement called Ton. In this case, one Ton is the equivalent to approximately 12,000 British Thermal Units Per Hour (BTUh). This measurement allows us to understand how much heat a cooling unit can remove from a home within the time frame of one hour. Just like with the heating units, a cooling unit with a higher BTUh rating will cool a home faster than a unit with a lower BTUh rating.

Square Footage

The square footage of your home is also important to note. While the square footage should not be the only deciding factor, it will help to give you an idea of where to start when evaluating the various sizes and capacities of HVAC systems. Choosing the ideal size for your home will prevent getting a unit that takes too much unnecessary wear and tear when trying to perform.

What Kind of Ductwork Do You Have In Your Home?

The condition of the ductwork in your home is something that should not be ignored. A lot of problems can lead to the inefficiency of any HVAC unit. When buying a new HVAC furnace and air conditioner, a thorough inspection of the ductwork in your home should be done to identify and solve any issues. It will also allow you to choose a smaller and less expensive unit since efficient ductwork allows units to operate at optimal levels.

If there are any areas where pieces of ductwork meet that are not tightly sealed, your home could be losing up to 30 percent of the heated and cooled air that is produced by an HVAC system. Dust and other debris can also cause a reduction in HVAC system efficiency. If you want your new HVAC system to operate at its best, make sure that the property's ductwork is in excellent shape.

Also, keep in mind that certain units may require a change in the ductwork. Buying a new HVAC system may mean a necessary addition to or total replacement of the current ductwork in your home. While this may increase the costs of the entire process, it will be worth it when your home has a new HVAC system that provides excellent heating and cooling benefits.

How Energy-Efficient is the System?

Energy efficiency is an important factor to remember when buying a new HVAC system. In fact, an energy-efficient unit can save homeowners between 20 and 30 percent in energy costs. The location of your home will play a big role in deciding what you will need. A home in an area with notoriously hot temperatures or frequent below-freezing temperatures will greatly benefit from a unit with a high energy-efficiency rating.

Heating efficiency is measured by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). For instance, a furnace with a higher AFUE will be the most energy-efficient. Cooling efficiency is measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher SEER rating an air conditioner has, the more energy-efficient it will be.

Remember, an HVAC unit will only be functioning at its best if it is the right system for your home. As previously mentioned, buying a new HVAC unit that's the wrong size and capacity can lead to reduced functionality and result in reduced energy efficiency.

How Much Maintenance Is Required?

Regardless of the HVAC system your purchase, it will need some level of maintenance to keep it in its best operating condition for years to come. It is also common that proper maintenance is required to keep any manufacturer's warranties in effect. Such tune-ups generally include replacing air filters and cleaning the indoor and outdoor components. It is recommended that a filter change is done every 30 to 60 days. A unit that is not well-maintained will work harder to perform the heating and cooling job and may ultimately break down.

Not only will maintenance keep the unit in proper working order, it will also improve and maintain the quality of the air. Various filters, air purifying systems, humidification controls, and ventilation solutions provide the opportunity to fine-tune any special needs your home may have from your new HVAC system.

Investing in a low-maintenance HVAC system will feel less daunting. It is also a good idea to create a maintenance plan and even schedule yearly inspections with a certified HVAC technician. This will allow you to regularly check that the system is working as it should and catch any problems with the system before they become too serious and costly.

How Much Noise Does It Make?

While the HVAC industry has done a great job with designing HVAC systems that do not produce excessively loud sounds, they can still be relatively noisy. When buying a new HVAC system, make sure that it will not cause any disturbances. Be sure to check on the noise level ratings of the system. All HVAC systems have a decibel (dB) rating, and there are some levels of noise that are more livable than others.

  • 50dB is the approximate noise level of a quiet conversation at home.
  • 60 dB averages around the same volume of noise as a conversation at a restaurant.
  • 70 dB is generally referred to as "annoyingly loud" and is close to the level of a vacuum cleaner.
  • 80 dB is approximately as loud as a running garbage disposal.

Ideally, the HVAC system you choose should have a noise level under 60 dB for maximum comfort regarding sound. If you are unsure of the decibel level of a certain model, contact the HVAC system's manufacturer for more information.

Do You Want a Centralized Thermostat or Zoned Controls?

HVAC systems with centralized thermostats are general in their functionality. While they provide heating and cooling throughout the property when they are turned on, there is no fine-tuning capability. Centralized thermostats will allow you to control the heating and cooling functions only for the entire house. This means that each room will get the same heating or cooling when it is turned on, whether a specific room needs it or not.

Zoned controls offer a lot more control over the temperature and usage of HVAC systems than centralized thermostats. They allow you to control the heat and air conditioning that flows in each individual living space. It is ideal for homes that have trouble with even temperature regulation, such as those with a room that gets too hot and does not always need heat while other rooms get too cold if the heat is not on.

You can decide on whether you want a centralized thermostat or zoned controls by considering a few factors. If you have rooms that vary in temperature and are difficult to regulate, or if you have people that fight over the temperature of the home, a zoned controlled system could be the best option for you. If you do not need such fine-tuned control over the temperature settings in your house, then buying a new HVAC system with a centralized thermostat should work just fine.

Do You Want Specialized Features?

As mentioned before, HVAC systems have advanced quite a lot in terms of the features they have to offer. Where before they were only able to operate off manual controls, they have since been upgraded. Explore a few of the specialized features to add even more comfort and convenience to your home via the HVAC system you choose.

Smart HVAC Systems

These systems are designed to predict when maintenance is needed before an actual issue occurs. They are able to improve preventative maintenance by sensing data on important functionalities such as air quality and equipment status. This is a great feature for those who may have trouble remembering to perform regular maintenance.

Sensor-Enhanced Vents

HVAC systems with sensor-enhanced vents allow homeowners to control the temperature of each individual room of their home by using an app. Smart sensors built within the HVAC system collect data from every room, which is then sent to software that coordinates with each vent. The programming uses the data to tell a vent in any room to open or close to properly direct airflow and keep the room at optimal temperature.

Smart Thermostats

Systems that have this feature lend a helping hand in maintaining the perfect climate within a home based on daily routine. You can set specific times throughout the day in which the system can either heat up or cool down your home. This is great for conserving energy as the system will only heat or cool when it is scheduled to do so. It also allows you to always return to a comfortable home after a busy day of being away.

How Much Will Buying a New HVAC System Cost?

While it is impossible to give a perfect estimate without knowing the specific details of your home, the average cost of buying a new HVAC system tends to range between $2,500 and $14,000. Factors such as the location and layout of your home, the size and capacity you will need, and any special features you would like your unit to have will impact the cost. Furthermore, any changes to ductwork, wiring, ventilation, and controls will also make a difference.

A budget is important while selecting an HVAC system. However, you do not want to cut important corners. It is recommended that you make several inquiries and get some different estimates to find the best price and system for your needs. It is also a good idea to ask about warranties, insurance, installation guidelines, and the certifications of the HVAC technicians.

Contact Us To Get An Estimate On Your New HVAC System

At Ingram's Water & Air Equipment, we offer over three decades of HVAC knowledge and experience. We understand the importance of saving our customers time, money, and energy. Our friendly and highly trained sales team has been in the HVAC industry for years. They are ready to help you find the best system for your home and budget. As always, customer satisfaction is our main goal, and we strive to make every experience with us a pleasant one.

Before buying a new HVAC system, whether it be an air conditioning system or a gas furnace, allow us to help you find the perfect fit for your home.

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