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A new HVAC system can add better efficiency — and air conditioning

Posted on Feb 23, 2022 in:
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners
Feb 23
: With hotter, smokier summers becoming the norm, we’re looking to improve our home’s temperature and air quality. We have a remodel coming up and wonder if we should upgrade our heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, too. Any advice?

A: HVAC systems control indoor temperature, humidity and air quality. They help keep your home comfortable and healthy, so having the right one is indispensable.

With temperatures in Washington state reaching a high of 115 degrees last summer and lows of 20 degrees for three straight days this winter, homeowners are looking for more efficient HVAC systems to improve indoor temperature and air quality, and also to curb utility costs. 

If your home’s HVAC system is nearing the end of its first decade, if your energy bills seem too high, if repairs are becoming more common or if parts of your home are running too hot or too cold, it’s probably time to replace it.

Planning a replacement before the system falters will give you time to consider your options. An Energy Star-rated model can save you money by increasing energy efficiency by as much as 15%, while also making your indoor environment considerably more pleasant.    

Take advantage of your remodeling project

Most remodel projects that are not whole-house renovations overlook the HVAC system, since upgrading it can easily add thousands of dollars to your project.

But remodels present a rare opportunity to access the inner workings of your home. Even partial remodels (such as kitchen renovations) require opening up large sections of the house. While your existing HVAC may still have life left, this is the perfect time to evaluate it and assess how long it’s going to last. 

An expert can help you determine if you need an upgrade, and which type of system is best-suited to your home.

For example, many older houses have complex duct systems that may become unnecessary with a new layout, such as an open floor plan. The existing ductwork could be replaced with a compact mini-split system which could provide climate control for an entire section of the house more efficiently and with less fuss.

(As an aside: Even if you don’t touch your existing HVAC, make sure to properly seal any exposed ductwork before closing your walls. Preventing leakages will save you energy and money, and you may not have this chance again until the next remodel.) 

Make sure to consult with an expert

If you are interested in upgrading or replacing your HVAC system, first consult a mechanical engineer to determine the best one for your home. 

It’s crucial to have their expertise because a bad installation can greatly reduce efficiency, thereby nullifying the savings of the upgrade — the worst possible result. Before you hire a contractor, make sure they’re licensed, insured and reputable.

Adding a more efficient HVAC system could require opening up additional walls throughout the house or relocating the HVAC system to another part of the home. This approach requires prioritizing long-term benefits over up-front costs. Make sure you have the right team, so every cent is spent wisely.   

A comfortable home is a more enjoyable home. To ensure your comfort during the next heat wave or deep freeze, talk to your remodeling contractor about how you can improve your HVAC system. 

Nathan Coons is founder and project director of Coons Construction LLCa member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,600 members, write to



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