Size and Occupancy: Assessing Your HVAC Needs

Size and Occupancy: Assessing Your HVAC NeedsCalculating your HVAC needs is a precise science. Square footage of the home and the number of occupants are two factors in that determination. Today, the average American house is slightly more than 2,500 square feet and occupancy is about 2.5 persons per home. Standardized charts estimate that an air conditioner rated at about 45,000 BTUs (4 tons) of cooling capacity is required to cool that “average” house in our climate zone.

For adequate heating, a furnace should generate about 45 BTUs per square foot, meaning a 112,500 BTU unit is required.

Why Averages Aren’t Enough

Standardized charts notwithstanding, the truth is, every house differs when it comes to heating/cooling requirements. Ballpark averages based on just two variables—square footage and occupancy—simply can’t produce the accuracy to meet today’s higher standards for energy efficiency and optimum comfort.

That’s why a professional load calculation is critical to select the right system to meet your HVAC needs. Furnaces and air conditioners that are over-sized or under-sized deliver sub-standard comfort, higher energy costs and tend to have shorter expected service life.

Your Home Is Unique

A formal load calculation involves a room-by-room assessment of your home’s distinct thermal characteristics. Factors recorded include:

  • Square footage
  • Daily amount of solar exposure
  • Roofing composition and color
  • Amount and type of insulation
  • Number and size of windows
  • Type and number of doors
  • Estimated air-tightness of structure
  • Number of occupants
  • Local climate conditions

Variables gathered in the survey are entered into load calculation software called Manual D, the standard of the industry. The program crunches the data to determine the precise BTU capacity of a central air conditioner and/or furnace required to maintain comfortable temperatures and lowest energy consumption. Accuracy of a professional load calculation far exceeds standardized estimates derived from general averages of other houses located elsewhere.

For professional help assessing your HVAC needs, contact Paitson Bros., serving the homeowners of Terre Haute since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC needs and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay” 

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    By Jeff Paitson
  • About Jeff

    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

    Jeff’s belief is that the business belongs to Jesus Christ; therefore 10 percent of the company’s profits go toward the Maryland Community Church.

    Jeff is a Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce member and in his spare time, he enjoys photography.
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  • About Ethan


    Ethan Ethan Rayburn is a lifelong resident of Terre Haute and a 2005 graduate of Purdue University.

    An Eagle Scout, Ethan spent four years as a non-profit executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining Paitson Bros. as a comfort advisor and later General Manager. In that role, Ethan has brought a renewed enthusiasm for customer care, integrity, value, and service to Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning.

    Ethan enjoys singing and was a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club. He also enjoys playing and coaching soccer, spending time with his family and two young boys, and volunteering his time and resources with his church, Terre Haute First Baptist Church, which he has attended from a very young age.
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