The housing market has been hot in Albuquerque, with homes for sale commonly receiving multiple offers and selling for over asking price. But if you’re in the market for a new home, don’t let desperation take hold, and make sure you’re asking the right questions about the HVAC systems in place. Of course, a home inspection will alert you to any significant red flags. But as an HVAC company in Albuquerque, we’ve created a blog to help you think about what to keep in mind so you’re not caught off guard later on in the process.
Air Conditioning Must-Haves
When you’re touring homes and trying to pick the one that’s right for you, there are many things to consider—layout, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, updates, landscaping, and so much more! It’s easy to take the HVAC for granted and hardly consider it when looking at homes.
Refrigerated Air Versus Swamp Cooler
There are still many homes in Albuquerque that utilize swamp coolers for cooling. Swamp coolers were a popular choice in past decades because they work well in dry climates like here in Albuquerque, and they cost less to install. Also, historically, the operating costs were lower than central AC, although this isn’t necessarily true with current energy-efficient appliances available today. The disadvantage to swamp coolers is that they only cool a home to about 20 degrees below the outside temperature. So on a 100°F day here in ABQ, it’s still pretty hot in the home even with a swamp cooler running.
So when touring a home, take note. Does it have central air (refrigerated air) or does it have a swamp cooler? There’s nothing you can’t change with a little investment. But it’s essential to take into account what is important to you. If you fall in love with a home that doesn’t have central AC and that’s a deal-breaker for you, that’s where an HVAC company can help. At Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, a common service we offer is swamp cooler conversions. You can read more about it here.
We take a few things into account when doing a swamp cooler conversion. If the home already has forced air heating, we can use the existing ducting when we switch to air conditioning. However, if the house has baseboard heating or another form of heating, we have to consider if the home structure will allow for ductwork to be added.
If not, we still have options. Mini-splits, or ductless AC, offers a great alternative to refrigerated air and swamp coolers.
Like we mentioned, an experienced HVAC company can come up with a solution that will keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the summer. But when you’re shopping for a new home, you have to keep in mind how much cash you’ll have after the home purchase to make additional upgrades (like a swamp cooler conversion or replacing the AC unit). If you’re thinking you won’t have much cash on hand, finding a home that has a cooling system that you’ll be happy with is key.
Age of AC Unit or Cooling System
In this same vein, it’s helpful to take note when touring a home when the appliances were last replaced. A new AC unit can be an added bonus to the home, because not only will you be able to go for longer before needing to replace it, but you’ll also save money on cooling costs. This is because newer AC units are more efficient than older models. You can read more about this topic on our recent blog that talked about if new AC units are really more energy efficient.
If the unit has been in the home for a while, it’s worth figuring out when it was installed if you’re serious about the home to know when you’ll need to replace it. AC units last around 15 years here in New Mexico, but that’s on the high end of average, with regular maintenance. Swamp coolers can range from 15-20 years.
If you’re buying a new construction home, the AC unity will likely be under warranty. So, in that case, here’s your friendly reminder to get regular HVAC maintenance to extend the life of your air conditioning unit.
No matter what kind of cooling systems you find in the homes you look at, just remember what your priorities are and make sure the home you choose aligns with what you need, or that you have the cash on hand to change it after the purchase.
As you’re considering the air conditioning setup, you’ll also observe the heating setup of the home. There is no “best” way to heat a home, so you have to figure out what your personal preferences are and what you want to prioritize. Forced air heating is the most common, although in Albuquerque you’ll also see homes with radiant/hydronic heating, wall heaters and floor heaters, and electric baseboard heating. In a past blog post, we shared a list of things to keep in mind when choosing what heating style is right for you.
- Importance of energy-efficiency
- Ductwork available in the home
- Aversion to the noise factor of forced air
- Desire for zones/heating rooms to different temperatures
- Sensitivity to drier air
Chances are, none of these home heating methods are a reason not to get a home you like. But it is just something you’ll want to note because it may be a factor when comparing homes.
Age of the Heating System
The age of whatever heating system is in the home may also play into your pros and cons when comparing homes. A furnace has a lifespan of around 15 to 20 years. So if the furnace is nearing the end of its life, you may want to consider that in your offer. Electric baseboard heaters also last about 20 years before they need to be replaced, and boilers for hydronic heating systems also last about 20 years. So make sure to ask when it was installed as you move forward to know when you need to be proactive and replace it.
Your HVAC Support When Buying a Home
Happy house hunting, and as you shop around, just take note of the heating and cooling systems in the homes you like. It may or may not be a factor in your decision, but it might help as you consider the pros and cons of various homes. It might also help inform offers you make. At the very least, it’s good to be informed so you can know when to start replacing the heating and cooling systems. And if you do end up purchasing a home and wanting to do a swamp cooler conversion or need other HVAC help, give us a call at Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing!