Heating and Cooling a Barndominium

Prospective barndominium owners sometimes worry about how to heat and cool their new home. They love the idea of a barndominium, want the unique flexibility and the generous square footage available with a custom barndominium, but aren’t quite sure about the logistics. What types of heating or cooling units are available for barndominiums? Will it be drafty in the winter or sweltering hot in the summer? And most importantly, is it going to cost a fortune to heat and cool such a large building?  

Even with the increased efficiency, you’ll still want to weigh your options carefully when deciding how to heat and cool your barndominium. The three most common types of heat are:

  1. Furnace – Natural gas furnaces are very common because of their affordability and availability. However, they require ductwork and are not as efficient as radiant heating or heat pumps. However, if you live in a climate where you’d want to install air conditioning, you’ll need ducts anyway.
  2. Heat Pumps – Another energy-efficient alternative to a furnace is a heat pump. Like a furnace, they require ductwork and send warmed (or cool) air through the ducts to reach the different areas of your home. This system is commonly referred to as a forced-air heating system. The pump draws heat from a source in the system and pushes it out through the room. The flow is reversed when cooling your home, and the warm air is pushed out of the home. Heat pumps can be more expensive initially but reduce the cost of your energy bills over time. 
  3. Radiant Heating System – Radiant heat works the way an oven warms the kitchen. The heat is sent directly to wall paneling or the floorboards through thermal heat transfer. Radiant heat doesn’t use ductwork or push air out; it heats areas by transferring heat. Because radiant floor heat can be split into different zones, it maintains a more uniform heat. Radiant heat is also the most energy-efficient; however, it is more costly to install up-front than the alternatives.   
  4. Wood Burning Stove – While a good wood-burning stove can help to warm your barndominium, they work best as a supplementary source of heat rather than the primary heating system for your home. They can be very cost-effective and help you to keep your monthly energy bill down. However, they are not very effective at heating large areas and take a bit of work to keep running. 

When choosing a heat source for your barndominium, you must decide more important to you: energy efficiency or up-front installation cost. You may also consider a secondary heat source, like a wood-burning stove or even a fireplace. However, these sources only provide supplementary heating and should not be your only heat system. 

How about cooling your barndominium? Cooling your barndominium requires several factors:

  1. Roof Ventilation – Because hot air rises, you’ll want a way for the hot air near the roof of your barndominium to escape. It is important not to seal the roof completely. It is important to install hot air exhaust vents near the peak of your roof. You may also add intake vents near the lowest part of the roof, allowing cool air to enter through the attic.
  2. Insulation – Installation is imperative to keep your barndominium both warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Without adequate insulation, the cold air will escape through the walls. 
  3. Airflow – Think about airflow when designing your barndominium. An open floor plan will allow the cool air to spread more quickly through your home and keep the entire home feeling comfortable. Cool air can become restricted in choppy floor plans with lots of narrow hallways and shut-off rooms, causing some rooms to stay cool and others to be warm.
  4. HVAC System – Last but not least, install a quality energy-efficient air conditioning unit. After ensuring that your barndominium is sealed correctly and vented, has the correct amount of insulation, and is designed with airflow in mind, choosing a suitable AC unit is all you need to ensure a cool and comfortable interior during hot summer days. 

A whole-home AC unit is the best choice for cooling a barndominium. The AC system can deliver cool air through the same ducts your heating system uses in the winter. To choose the right AC system, you must first determine the square footage of your living space. The typical recommendation is to install an air conditioner with 20BTU per square foot. So, for example, if you have 1,000 square feet of living space, you should install at least a 20,000 BTU AC unit. 

In addition to all of the steps focused on the interior of a barndominium, you can take steps outside to block or reflect heat to help your barndominium stay cool. Installing overhangs, awnings, or more landscaping can help minimize the transfer of heat from outside to inside your home. 

Our experts can help you every step along the way in making your barndominium as energy-efficient and comfortable as possible. While a barndominium has characteristics that make heating and cooling slightly different from a traditional home, numerous advantages can make a barndominium a very comfortable and affordable home to live in.  

The first step is a phone consultation.
If needed, we will meet with you in person as well!

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