More people are turning single-family homes into duplexes. Dividing the space creates more living or rental opportunities and can cut down on utility costs by creating smaller spaces and more tenants. However, dividing a single home can be a big project and shouldn’t be taken lightly. One of the biggest things to consider is the HVAC system. Northern Colorado HVAC professionals can assist with the new space. Here are a few things to consider about HVAC in a divided space.
Can I Use the Current System?
The current HVAC system will likely still work in a divided house. After all, if it has the power to heat and cool the house at its existing size, it can likely still handle heating and cooling a duplex. However, just because the existing system can work in the space doesn’t mean it should. Putting up a wall in the middle of the house without changing the HVAC system means one tenant would have control of the temperature and the other tenant (the side without the thermostat) wouldn’t have any control over the temperature of their home. In many states, all tenants are required by law to have their own controllable heat source. That means that at the very least, you’ll need to add another thermostat.
Zone Control Systems
The question then becomes if you want to add zoning controls or simply add a new HVAC system so that each unit has its own furnace and air conditioner. A zone system uses a single HVAC system but divides the area into different zones that are controlled individually. That means that a tenant on one side of the house could set the temperature to a different level than the tenant on the other side of the house while still using the same HVAC system. The benefit of this is not having to pay for an additional HVAC unit. Zone control systems can be more eco-friendly and lead to lower utility rates because they control where the air is being distributed. However, a zone control system means that both sides of the duplex are connected. If there is an issue with one side, it will affect everyone in the house. That could lead to unhappy tenants if the system breaks down.
If you choose the zone control system, you can either add zone controls to the existing HVAC system or install a single new system that contains zones. If you choose to alter the existing system, remember that the duplex likely has more people living in it than it did as a single home. Even though the HVAC system worked well for the size of the home, adding zone systems could potentially add more strain to the system by possibly running each area of the house at different temperatures all day. More wear and tear on the system could cause maintenance issues and possibly cause it to break down sooner.
Adding a Second HVAC Unit
Instead of zone control, the other option is to add a second HVAC unit. This way, each side of the duplex has its own furnace, air conditioner, and water heater. The main downside of this option is the cost and work involved. Aside from the cost of buying and installing a new HVAC unit, you’ll likely have to rearrange some of the ductwork to separate the two sides of the house. Two HVAC units also means twice the energy costs and environmental impact. Aside from the cost, having two systems could be a real benefit. It gives tenants on each side complete control of their HVAC system without being tied to their neighbor, which can be a big selling point for the unit.
Transforming a single-family house to a duplex is a large undertaking and one that requires careful planning. How you decide to handle the HVAC system can impact your cost and your tenants’ lifestyle. One choice isn’t necessarily better than the other, but all factors should be considered to make the best decision.