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How to Select the Right Size Heat Pump

There are a variety of factor that go into selecting the right HVAC system. You’ll want to consider the efficiency rating, the installation method and your desired features. Once those have been established, you can select the appropriate size heat pump, whether it be a ground source, water source or air source heat pump.


Using the Manual J Method

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America have established a standard sizing practice that the HVAC industry follows throughout the country. This methodology, called the Manual J Method, requires the contractor to follow certain steps in selecting the right size heat pump.

The Manual J Method requires taking eight factors into consideration:

  1. The local climate, and the variation in degrees for heating and cooling in the region.
  2. The home’s design, including the shape of the home and the overall square footage.
  3. The home’s insulation and whether it meets the needed efficiency rating for the particular region.
  4. The number and location of all windows.
  5. The occurrence of air infiltration.
  6. How many individuals live in the home.
  7. The residents’ preferences for indoor temperature, and how they use the home.
  8. Other appliances and lighting that generate heat in the home.

The contractor should consider all these factors in order to appropriately follow the Manual J Method.


Why the Size of the Heat Pump Matters

Getting the right size heat pump saves you money on energy costs and helps maintain the longevity of your HVAC system. There are a number of problems that can occur when a system is too big or too small, including:

  • Increased on-and-off cycling, which places stress on the blower motor
  • Drastic and uncomfortable differences in temperature inside the home
  • Ineffective control of humidity indoors
  • Higher energy costs
  • Short-cycling

When you hire a contractor to give you an estimate on an HVAC system, make sure he or she uses the Manual J Method to calculate what size heat pump you need. The contractor should input figures into the software program, as well as ask you questions about your preferences and physically look over your home’s setup. Selecting the right size heat pump will help ensure that your system is being used effectively, which saves you money.

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