The Three Legs of Comfort
The three legs of comfort are best thought of like a three-legged stool, with each leg representing an aspect of what makes you comfortable. If all the legs are the same, the stool will not wobble. Shorten one leg of the stool and it will wobble and fall over. To really achieve your ideal level of comfort, all three “legs” of the stool need to be in perfect sync.
When homeowners are not comfortable in their homes, they often look to the equipment to solve the problem. Unfortunately, just replacing old, inefficient equipment is not a surefire way to improve comfort or efficiency. After having new equipment installed, a homeowner may find themselves confused as to why they haven’t noticed any differences in their energy bills or their comfort.
The first leg of your proverbial comfort stool is the new equipment. It is the leg most homeowners look to when trying to solve their issues with poor comfort and high utility bills. And yes, getting new equipment is important. No one ever complained about having the most cutting edge tools for the job they’re trying to accomplish. But to get the ideal results, you need to focus on the other two legs.
The second leg of the stool is your home’s “building envelope,” meaning your exterior walls, ceiling, floor, windows, and doors. They need to be sealed and insulated properly to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If the building envelope is allowing too much air to escape or enter your home, it could be more than your equipment can produce to keep you comfortable. Or, to keep you comfortable your utility bills may be higher than you would like.
The third leg of your “comfort stool” is your air distribution system; your ductwork. The ductwork is what carries warm or cool air throughout your home. The air also makes its way back to your equipment via the ductwork. While it is in the equipment, it is treated and then sent back into the individual rooms of your home.
Your equipment has been designed to move a specific amount of air. Depending on the design of the ductwork, the equipment may have to work harder than it should which increases your operating costs. And there are times when it is working as hard as it can but still cannot move the necessary amount of air on a room-by-room basis. The result is a less than expected level of comfort with high utility bills.
Just like a three-legged stool, all the legs must be equal for the stool not to wobble. If one leg is off, the stool may wobble or even tip over. A heating and air conditioning contractor with the necessary training, tools, and experience can help you evaluate all three legs of your “comfort stool” so you will fully understand what it will take to enjoy a maximum level of comfort with the lowest possible operating costs.