Hi - tomorrow I'll be the owner of my first house. I'm looking for do's and don't's in terms of how to make sure the house is healthy and happy from an HVAC perspective. Also, I'm considering adding some form of air conditioning, and I'm looking for info on what my choices are, and what their relative costs are.
I definitely plan to hire out for even the most trivial tasks - I'm not handy at all.
Here's some basics about the house:
- It's in Redmond, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest
- It's on a hillside - the top floor faces uphill to the street, and the bottom floor is a walk-out basement into the backyard
- The basement is mostly-finished, lacking ceilings, drywall, and proper flooring, but has heating ducts, wall framing, and electric all done afaik. We'll have it finished it in the next year or so.
- The furnace is a high-efficiency gas furnace that is about five years old, and it was professionally serviced a few weeks ago.
- I have a LG LWHD8000RY6 window AC unit I used at a rental previously. Still works, as far as I know.
- All the windows in the house open sliding sideways instead of up and down, making installing a window unit more complicated and annoying, and frankly, beyond my abilities.
- The house was built in 1959, and each floor is 1,100 square feet, and there was a garage attached at some point after it was built.
- There is a ladder in the garage to get up into the attic, which is filled with blown in insulation.
- I've lived in the immediate area most of my life, and I doubt I'll move for at least a decade.
- The house is reasonably well insulated, and all the windows are ~10 year old and double pane.
How often should I have the furnace serviced?
What are my options in terms of having air conditioning? I think it would be great to have the whole house with AC, but I'm worried about how much more that would cost. What should I do with my window AC unit? Can I hire someone to build some kind of frame I can use to make it easier to put in the window, or should I should I get it installed in the wall somewhere? I think my wife and I would just pack in there the month of the year that it's hot.
What should I be doing, in general, if I want to save money on heating/cooling? What can I invest in soon that will pay off eventually in the future?
Should I be worried about the attic temperature in this area? It seems like people have fans up there to help lower the temperature. The house has a mesh-covered gap around most of it that allows for ventilation.
Kind of off topic for this forum, but is getting some kind of solar electricity generation system worth it financially in a 10 year time frame, given the current tax incentives, and the location?
All advice welcome - thanks!