Heating and Air Tips to Keep Your Home Office Toasty Warm over the Elk Grove Winter
About 10 years ago, Elk Grove was the fastest growing city in the United States, but I remember when it was just a sleepy farm town, with maybe 50,000 residents. My friends and customers in Elk Grove say people are coming from Sacramento and the Bay Area because technology has made it so easy to work from home while enjoying Elk Grove’s lower home prices and lighter traffic.
A lot of homeowners have added offices onto their homes, or they’ve turned garages, basements, and attics into office space. But, heating these redesigned parts of a house can be tricky, and who wants that? I mean, what’s the point of a work-at-home job if you can’t do it from a warm and snug space? Luckily, there are ways to expand your HVAC system to heat (and cool) even the trickiest parts of your home, like your new office addition.
Add-on offices come in two varieties: an entirely new room and a refurbished space. For entirely new rooms, you can expand your HVAC system and maybe even upgrade your furnace. For repurposed spaces, such as basements, attics, and garages, you can generally just expand your ductwork and improve your insulation. But, before you make any decisions, it’s best to know as much as you can about heating, cooling, and air in the tricky spaces of your home.
Heating a Totally New Room
Elk Grove seems to be making the move from a bedroom community to a work-at-home community. If you’re building an addition onto your house, you should make plans to upgrade your HVAC system as well. Your new office will likely be far from your home’s center, so you probably can’t just put in a new section of ductwork and call it good. Here’s some considerations if you need to upgrade your HVAC system after an office add-on:
- Cubic living space: This is key. Depending on the size of the new space, you may have to replace your existing furnace with a newer, larger one to keep your office toasty, whether it’s in the backyard or been added to the side of your house.
- Location and quality of windows: We talk all the time about how important windows are to the temperature in your home, and that’s because they really are. How many windows do you have in your new office? Are they beside or adjacent to your desk, or wherever you plan to spend most of your time? Are the windows going to be double or tripled-paned, or are they going to be cheaper windows that let more air pass through? How you answer these questions will have a major impact on your HVAC system and how well it warms and cools your office.
- Insulation: Finally, the type of insulation you have in the walls of your new space makes quite a big difference in whether you need to invest in a larger furnace to heat it—not all insulation is created equal. When choosing insulation for your office, be sure to work with a local installer who can keep your HVAC system in mind. And, be sure not to skimp. Elk Grove has a pretty mild climate year-round, but even we aren’t safe from temperatures in the 30s come winter.
Bring the Heat to Your Converted Office Space
A finished basement is a great location to turn into an office. That’s also true of garages and attics. But these spaces were probably originally intended to be nothing more than a storage room and likely weren’t taken into account when your house was built or your HVAC system installed.
If you’ve turned one of them into an office, you’re going to have to rethink the heating in that room because you’re about to spend much more time in it. Now, I should note that the same tips from above—paying attention to cubic space, insulation, and the location and quality of windows—apply here, too. With an existing space, however, there’s one key difference: simply extending you ductwork may be enough if the space is already partially heated and not as far from the center of your home as a new room built in, say, the backyard, for example.
When you extend your ductwork, you tap into your HVAC system that’s already in place. But, it’s important to discuss this with an HVAC specialist before you make your decision. Potential hazards of extending existing ductwork without professional guidance include:
- Overtaxing your furnace
- Throwing your system out of balance
- Creating leaks in the ducts by not properly sealing the extension
A Better Option: The Mini-Split
While getting a bigger furnace or extending your ductwork are often viable choices, there’s a third option that can work for you whether you renovated an old space or added a new one to your home—a split system, also known as a ductless heat pump. I’ve talked in the past about how a ductless mini-split is a great way to cool a historic home down, but this type of equipment works both ways, making it a great choice for heat as well.
This system consists of two major components: a blower unit installed on an exterior wall and a condenser that sits on the ground outside. Here’s why I often recommend it:
- Cost: This is actually a cheaper option that could save you from the high costs of replacing both your furnace and your AC unit. Or, a ductless heat pump can be a great choice to use in a transitionary period while you’re waiting to be able to replace your existing equipment.
- Separate needs: One thing I haven’t talked about yet is that spaces in the attic, garage, basement, or the sunny backside of a house can sometimes have very different heating and cooling needs than the rest of the home. A split system has its own thermostat independent from the other so it can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of your home office.
- Regulation: In Elk Grove, as throughout the state of California, if you extend ducts, it’s considered an add on to your air conditioner system, making it subject to regulations that may require you to upgrade your AC to a more modern unit. Going with a split system can help you avoid having to do work on existing, healthy HVAC systems and don’t trigger regulations requiring immediate upgrades.
Whatever space you decide to turn into your new stay-at-home office, you’re going to need to control the temperature—that’s just the reality of living in a place like Elk Grove where summers are brutal and winters can definitely be uncomfortable. Besides, half the fun of working from home is working in your pajamas, not a heavy winter coat. Make sure you’re making the right choice with your HVAC system by consulting the professionals before, during, or after you build your add-on office.
Contact Bell Brothers, your local HVAC specialists today to find the perfect heating system for your new add-on office space.