The Barnacle is the oldest home in Miami. Built in 1891, this home has large porches surrounding the bungalow and rooftop cupola. In 1908, the original owner had the home lifted using railroad jacks and blocks, allowing for a second floor. Everything in this home was built with timber from shipwrecks.
When you have a historic home like the Barnacle. A central air conditioning system isn’t always possible, especially if you don’t already have ducts installed. But, South Florida homes need to be cooled and dehumidified due to the heat and humidity. What are your options? If you do have an AC in your historic home, what maintenance is involved?
AC Maintenance That Preserves the Life of Your System
Does your historic home have an existing AC system? AC maintenance is essential as it preserves the life of your system. A well-maintained and clean system keeps your home cool and dehumidified. You should aim to have your system professionally cleaned each year.
As a homeowner, you need to change your system’s air filter every month or two. If an air filter is clogged with dust, pollen, pet dander, and hair, it forces your system to work harder. That strain wears your system out faster. When you change your filter as often as directed, it’s easier on your system and ensures your home is as cool as you expect.
Ducts also impact your system. If the ducts are clogged or there are holes or cracks in the ducts, you lose cool air into the walls or attic. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends having your ducts cleaned and inspected every few years. If mold issues are present, more frequent cleanings are important. It might be time to have your ducts restored.
Make Sure You Insulate Your Home
In addition to an efficient AC system, you want to make sure your home’s exterior walls and attic are well insulated. In South Florida, wall and floor insulation needs to meet the R-13 minimum. Ceiling insulation needs to be R-30 or R-39, depending on which climate zone you’re in. Climate Zone 2 requires a minimum of R—39.
If your insulation isn’t up to the requirements, talk to a Miami HVAC specialist about attic insulation. You don’t want to lose cool air through your roof or walls. It may also help you to replace older windows, making sure you follow the requirements for your historic home. Air loss is also possible at doors, so adding weatherstripping in those areas to keep cool air inside.
One of the benefits of insulation is that you can claim the cost when you file your yearly income taxes. It’s an energy tax credit that helps offset the taxes you owe to the IRS. Florida Power & Light offers up to $1,420 in savings when you have ceiling insulation installed by an FPL Participating Independent Contractor. You get a $220 instant rebate and then up to $1,200 in tax credits from the federal government. Plus, you can’t forget the savings you’ll get on your energy bills because of the added insulation.
Use Landscaping to Your Advantage
Landscaping also helps keep your AC costs down as it shades the home from South Florida’s intense sunlight. Adding shrubs and trees that shade patio doors and larger windows to keep the sun from coming into your historic home and heating up your rooms. That makes your central AC system work harder to keep your home cool.
What trees grow the fastest in Florida’s heat and sunshine? A Lombardy poplar grows up to six feet per year, which is one of the fastest-growing trees suitable to Florida’s hot, humid climate. An autumn blaze maple tree grows upwards of five feet per year, which is our second choice for quick-growing shade trees. They’re both great choices.
While they grow fast, you also need to consider how far the roots expand. Consider that when you are choosing the right location. Tree roots often go up to six feet into the ground. They grow upwards of three times the spread of the branches.
In addition to landscaping, you should look into light-blocking blinds and curtains. Blackout shades make it easy to open the curtains when you want to, but close them when the sun is high in the sky and warming your home.
Tips for a Full AC System Replacement
What if you need a full system replacement? It’s not unheard of as central AC systems in Miami don’t tend to last more than 15 years, and that’s with regular maintenance. If you have existing ducts, it’s going to be a simple swap-out. Today’s systems are efficient, so homeowners often find themselves saving money on their electricity bills due to the high-efficiency rates.
In 2023, SEER2 ratings were added. Instead of having an AC with a 15.0 SEER rating, codes now are for a 13.8 SEER2 rating, providing the system is below 45,000 Btu. For AC systems higher than 45,000 Btu, the SEER2 rating of 14.3 is required.
Make sure you work with a Miami air conditioning repair and installation expert. You want a company with a lot of experience in historic homes. Before you do any small repairs, such as duct repair or an AC system replacement, a Standard Certificate of Appropriateness is necessary.
For larger products or alterations, such as taking out or moving walls or adding ducts, Miami’s Historic and Environmental Preservation Board must approve the project. Work will not begin before the board issues a Special Certificate of Appropriateness is necessary.
Talk to All Year Cooling about your system’s issues or arrange a cleaning and inspection. If you don’t have a central AC system and have been relying on window AC units, ask us about energy-efficient options like a ductless mini-split system. It will only cool one area, so you may need several to effectively cool your home, but it’s a good option when ducts are not possible due to historical features.
When you partner with All Year Cooling, you have specialists who can clean, maintain, inspect, and repair your South Florida central AC system. If it needs replacing, our team is licensed and insured in Florida, and we understand the importance of preserving the historic details of older Florida homes. We can also help you figure out how to claim energy-efficiency tax credits if you need a ductless mini-split or a new AC system.
Are you ready for a cool, comfortable home that saves money on your energy bills? Talk to the experts at All Year Cooling and learn more about AC systems in South Florida.