Online educational resource on achieving indoor environmental quality with radiant based HVAC systems
Not for profit educational resource on indoor environmental quality.
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educational programs on indoor environmental quality

News: Read the joint statement by Canada's Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Trade Associations regarding consumer complaints with HVAC systems and call to improve the quality of designs, installations and inspections.


How to "ball park" your budget for indoor climate control.
Copyright 2013, Robert Bean, R.E.T., P.L.(Eng.). All rights reserved.

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The following tables from the Healthy Heating Indoor Climate Ranking method are for "ball parking" the budget for indoor climate systems based on a A through F grading system.Where will your indoor climate system score? Values for the larger homes earning the higher Grade A and B may also include allowances for plumbing rough ins and in some cases space cooling.

Ex. In some parts of the country, a $1,000,000 home with a Grade D built to code budget would get installed for $40,000 +/- $10,000 depending on options, location and economic conditions. A Grade A system would get installed for $130,000 +/- $10,000 also depending on options, location and economic conditions. As I like to say, it is not what you paid for that will make you miserable, it is what you didn't pay for that will make you miserable.

See: HVAC Grading Scale Self Assessment Form, and Do I Need an Engineer?

See this page for budgeting HVAC design fees.
 

Costing Tables 1 of 3

Table 1 above: This is the lower end of indoor climate systems and where often most of the indoor environmental and energy complaints come from. Typically it's mass produced housing or custom housing with a mass produced mentality for HVAC and a disregard for enclosure performance and interior finishes. These are the homes where glitz and glamour trump energy efficient indoor climates. Often the components and quality of the HVAC system for the $3,000,000 home is the same as what you would find in a $300,000 home. Consumers buying into these grades generally place their faith in the housing system relying on building codes and home warranty programs for protection. Most have never lived with Grade B or Grade A systems and often plan on selling the home within a few years and hope the new buyer will place greater value on the architecture and aesthetics than what's behind the walls. As we are now witnessing, this is happening less as consumers become better educated in the home buying process. Note: Homes in this category would likely not engage the services of someone licensed to practice engineering.
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Costing Tables 2 of 3

Table 2 above: This is the upper end of indoor climate systems and where fewer indoor environmental and energy complaints come from. Typically it's custom housing or large scale produced housing with a "clientcentric" mentality for building science, interior finishes and HVAC systems. These are the homes where glitz and glamour does not trump energy efficient indoor climate quality. Consumer buying into these grades generally do a lot of homework on indoor environmental quality and energy efficiency and place their faith in research, customer word of mouth and builder reputation rather than on building codes and home warranty programs. Most have lived or know someone who is living with Grade B or Grade A systems and the home is generally for retirement. The home will likely be passed onto the next generation or sold to the next generation of retirees. Valuations in these grades at the higher percentage will often have:

  1. heating/cooling loads of less than 10 Btu/hr/sf flux at design conditions verified by metering, and

  2. approximately 2 to 3 ACH50 infiltration verified by a blower door test, and

  3. a hybrid high efficiency HVAC system with steam humidification or dedicated dehumidification, and

  4. a dedicated 100% outdoor air ventilation system ducted to each room, and

  5. MERV 11 to 12 filtration or better verified by ASHRAE 52.2, and

  6. a zoned system based on good practice, and

  7. regulated floor temperatures verified by ASHRAE 55, and

  8. low VOC interior finishes verified by modelling and ratings.

At the upper end fees usually include plumbing rough-in and either air or chilled water space cooling.

Note: Homes in this category would benefit from the services of someone licensed to practice engineering.
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Costing Tables 3 of 3

Table 3: Size of home based on construction cost per sq. ft. Consumers are advised never to assume that a larger more expensive home will automatically have better indoor climates. Many of the clients using our forensic services have large expensive homes with poor indoor climates just as small inexpensive homes have poor indoor climates. Once again it comes down to education and priorities. Good indoor climates do not happen by luck - they happen because they were made a priority in pre-architectural stage. I like to say, "design your home around your indoor environment specification and energy budget."
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Project Example

 

Example for Project #1 (drawings and specifications) The above table is used to illustrate the budgeting for a approximately 4100 ft2 home where construction costs were between $275 ft2 and $300 ft2. Adjusting for high capacity kitchen exhaust and make up air system (400 cfm) and solar system the required budget is going to be in the $115,000 range.

Heads up to those owner/built projects where costs per square foot are reduced because of the value you bring to the project...use market price valuations lest you be lured into thinking the mechanical systems can be done for less.


 

Example for Project #4 (drawings and specifications) The above table is used to illustrate the budgeting for a approximately 4500 ft2 home where construction costs were between $275 ft2 and $300 ft2. Adjusting for high capacity kitchen exhaust and make up air system (850 cfm), interconnecting piping between the main house and guest house, two mechanical rooms and atypical controls due to the unique piping required the required budget is going to be in the $200,000 range.

Heads up to those owner/built projects where costs per square foot are reduced because of the value you bring to the project...use market price valuations lest you be lured into thinking the mechanical systems can be done for less.


Sample Projects:

Sample #1: drawings and specifications for an owner built infill project
Sample #2: drawings and specifications for an owner built gut and renovation project
Sample #3: drawings and specifications for an owner built project
Sample #4: drawings and specifications for  an owner built project
 

Pre Owned Homes:

Note: Just as you would have an pre-purchase inspection of an automobile, boat or plane - purchasers of homes should include an energy and indoor environmental assessment before closing on a purchase contract. If you are looking at a home with a hybrid HVAC system and are looking for an assessment send us an email.

See: ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55 Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, ANSI/ASHRAE 62.2 Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality, and ASHRAE Guideline 10-2011-Interactions Affecting the Achievement of Acceptable Indoor Environments.



Related reading:

Do I need an engineer? A Guide to HVAC/Indoor Climate Design Service Providers
Where will your indoor climate system score?
How to "ball park" your budget for indoor climate control.
Indoor environments: Self assessment
Built to code: What does it mean for consumer thermal comfort?
The Total Comfort System - The "Un-minimum" System
Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit perspective for consumers
Thermal Comfort: A Condition of Mind

Do-It-Yourself HVAC - Should you do it?
The Cost of HVAC Systems - Are You Paying Too Much for Downgrades?
Radiant Installations - The Good, Bad and Ugly
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part I
Thermal Comfort Surveys - Post Occupancy, Part II

For additional support on this topic visit our visitor services page.
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