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Dilemmas with Add-on Spaces

September 15, 2016

With real estate prices soaring in Nashville, many homeowners are opting to stay put and enhance their existing home rather than move. Perhaps you’ve decided to close in a garage to be used as living space, finish off a bonus room, add a sunroom, or turn basement storage into living space. Since these spaces were not part of your home’s original central HVAC system, you’re faced with a dilemma: what to do about heating and cooling these add-on spaces. In this post, we’ll talk about some important considerations.

Location and configuration

Location and configuration of the add-on space matters when sizing the system.

Cooling a basement which is partially or entirely underground will require less cooling capacity than cooling a room, such as a bonus room over the garage, which has a ceiling near the roof or attic, where heat tends to pool, and also has unconditioned space beneath it.

The number and type of windows and doors are also a consideration, as these are areas where cooling and heating energy is lost more rapidly.

​Does the add-on space get a lot of direct sun or is it protected by shade? Which direction does it face?  If you’re enclosing a sunroom with large windows on many sides, it will require much more cooling than the other more traditional rooms of your house.

How high is the ceiling? Remember, you are cooling not just the square footage of the floor but the entire volume of the space.

Items such as this go into figuring the peak heating and cooling load for the space.  Getting a system that is either too big or too small can leave you feeling uncomfortable!  If you are in doubt about sizing an appropriate solution, you’ll want to consult with an HVAC professional. No sense throwing money away on a system that won’t do an adequate job.

How the space will be used

Will your add-on space be part of your regular day-to-day living space? Or will it be a room that might only be used occasionally, such as a guest room, or only used during certain seasons? Will the add-on space need to be a separate zone, so you can control the thermostat independently of the rest of the house?  This is often the case when your add-on space is in an area with vastly different needs from the rest of the house: a room that is underground (basement) or has lots of windows (a sunroom), or a room with special equipment or machinery. Will the room need just heating or just cooling or both? Knowing how the space will be used will aid you in selecting cooling and/or heating solutions that will be both functional and economical.

In our next post, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the various options for heating and cooling your add-on space.