Understanding HVAC Guidelines
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Understanding HVAC Guidelines

Once I purchased my first home, I realized that I needed to do my part in caring for my home appliances. In addition to reading the user manuals for my kitchen appliances and state-of-the-art plumbing system, I realized that I also needed to do a little research about HVAC. Because I had no experience with HVAC systems, I called out a professional to teach me a thing or two. It was fascinating to talk with him, and I was able to take notes about all kinds of important topics, such as maintenance, troubleshooting, and even shopping for a new system. This blog is all about understanding HVAC guidelines.

Understanding HVAC Guidelines

Southern Heating And Air: Best Systems For The South

Marilou Girard

Living in the American South, particularly during the last decade, can feel like living in a land of endless summers. Although these endless summers may seem great when the rest of the country is shoveling snow, they can create some unique cooling and heating challenges.

Here are some tips to help you select the best heating and cooling systems for a home or business in the American South:

Primary System

To provide comfort, with relative efficiency, it's critical to choose a primary heating and cooling system that's powerful enough to cool and heat your home or business with relative ease. Because the American South has been so warm and humid during the past decade, this need has been even more pronounced.  This does not mean, however, that you should choose a bigger* unit.

Split versus Packaged Air

There are two types of central heating and cooling systems widely available to customers in the US.

Split units, as the name implies, have two parts. The outside part is the air conditioning unit. The inside part are the condenser and furnace components. The benefits of split units included better energy efficiency (each component is specifically designed for optimal performance) and longevity. The drawbacks include increased space needed, added labor cost, and potential upkeep.

Packaged units, as the name implies, package both units in one space.  This allows you to save space, reduce installation costs, and may save a little money on upkeep. However, these units are often less energy efficient or have a shorter life expectancy than split units.

Size: central heating and cooling units are measured by how many "tons" of BTUs (British Thermal Units) of hot or cold air they can produce in an hour. Since the American South faces some the fiercest temperatures and humidity, you may need a more powerful unit than if you lived in a milder climate.

Match the size of your home** to the central heating and cooling unit below:

  • 600-900 Square Feet: 1.5 tons

  • 901-1201 Square Feet: 2.0 tons

  • 1201-1500 Square Feet: 2.5 tons

  • 1501-1800 Square Feet: 3.0 tons

  • 1801-2100 Square Feet: 3.5 tons

  • 2101-2400 Square Feet: 4.0 tons

  • 2401-3000 Square Feet: 4.5 tons

*If you have high vaulted ceilings and you're on the upper end of one of the ranges, you may need to up-size.

**New windows and updated insulation can allow you choose smaller unit if you're on the lower end of one of the ranges (950, 1225, 1875 Sqft, etc.

Complimentary Systems 

Complementing your primary heating and cooling systems with supplementary means of heating, cooling, and ventilating can help your home stay comfortable more energy efficiently. These complementary systems, although costing a little extra, can pay for themselves through energy saved many times over.


Even on relatively cool days in the American South (particularly during the fall and late spring), your home can feeling stiflingly humid. Cranking up your air conditioner isn't the only way to tackle these conditions. Dehumidifiers can cull moisture from the air, which can make your home feel more comfortable without switching on your central air conditioning unit.

Ceiling Fans

Adding a ceiling fan to your home's primary living spaces will help you circulate ambient air and the cold air produced by your central cooling unit. These fans are extremely energy efficient and can be used throughout the year.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats closely monitor your home's temperature and humidity. These systems can be automated to kick on your primary and supplementary heating and cooling systems to suit just about every preference. Additionally, you can control these units from the convenience of your smart phone or other internet connected device.