HVAC is the abbreviation that represents the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems associated with your cottage. These are the systems that keep you comfortable by regulating temperature and air flow. This is why HVAC is also known as climate control.
HVAC impacts your health because a properly maintained and regulated system keeps your cottage free from mould and other harmful organisms.
Getting the right size of HVAC system for your cottage a key issue. A system that is too large is financially inefficient and a system that is too small cannot do its job. The correct size cannot be determined by square footage alone, because the energy efficiency of other construction choices must be weighed and measured when calculating HVAC needs. It is important to have a knowledgeable professional calculate your HVAC needs after you complete your decision making about things such as the type and number of your windows.
Heating systems can be central or local. Central heating uses the heat source you choose (such as oil, gas, electricity, ground source, water source, air source, solar, or wind) to distribute heat throughout your building by the distribution method that you choose, such as forced air, radiators, infloor glycol and so on. Local heating is heat that is confined to a particular area, such as “warm floor”heating installed in a bathroom floor, in a cottage that is heated centrally using a forced air oil furnace. You may decide to install a hybrid system that uses several different heat sources.
Ventilation is changing the air to rid it of moisture, odours, heat, and airborne bacteria. Ventilation includes the exchange of air to the outside as well as circulation within the building. Proper ventilation is important for maintaining indoor air quality. There are mechanical ways to get ventilation and control humidity and odours such as fans, HRV systems (heat recovery ventilation systems). There are also natural ways to assist, such as proper window placement for cross circulation.
Air conditioning is a system that extracts heat from the air using a refrigeration cycle. As well as cooling, the air conditioner also dehumidifies your cottage.
When choosing air conditioning it is important to consider:
- Noise level
- Energy Efficiency
- Fan Speed
- Type of coolant
- Passive Cooling
There are passive ways to cool your cottage such that refrigeration cycle air conditioning may not be necessary. This involves a wide variety of strategies, some of which are:
- Physically orient the building on the site to catch cooling breezes
- Plan window locations to maximize cross breezes
- Choose windows that open in a way that will maximize cooling breezes
- Reduce obstructions, such as trees, which stop breezes coming into the cottage
- Plant for effective shading of your cottage without creating obstructions
- Have interior and/or exterior shading for windows that bring in sun during the day
- Insulate your cottage effectively, as this keeps cold in and heat out
- Keep windows closed at the times they cannot bring in cooling breezes
- Put ceiling fans in each room so that the air can be kept moving
- Have a ceiling fan directing over the bed for cooling at night when you sleep
- Use light coloured covering for your roof, such as silver coloured aluminum as this reflects solar radiation and reduces heat gain, and yet looks appropriate in Muskoka.
Remember that all aspects of HVAC should be considered at the same time in your decision making, as one can impact the other.