What the Pandemic Taught Us About Air Quality in Custom Homes

What the Pandemic Taught Us About Air Quality in Custom Homes

During the pandemic, concerns about indoor air quality became top-of-mind for homeowners across the country. From opening windows to installing new HVAC systems, it became common to do all you could to improve the air in your home. While there was a learning curve for everyone, custom homes faced unique indoor air quality challenges.

Join the air-quality experts from the Unico team as we break down some of the biggest lessons the pandemic taught us about indoor air quality in custom homes and how you can address them.

How Ventilation Impacts Air Quality in Custom Homes

If you’re looking to improve indoor air quality of a custom home, getting proper ventilation is a must. Since many newer homes are built to low load home (LLH) standards, there’s a tighter seal on airflow. During the pandemic, this fact made the housing industry realize that mechanical ventilation was important to improve indoor air quality in custom homes. Mechanical ventilation improves air quality by diluting the indoor air with “fresh” air from the outside.

Covid-19 and other viruses have a harder time surviving outside due to the sheer volume of clean air they are exposed to. That’s why diluting and filtering indoor air helps minimize the risk of aerosolized viruses being transmitted inside of a home. While the idea makes sense on paper, some custom home ventilation systems only operate at one speed.

The Unico System has a variable speed blower that includes unique control features to ventilate custom homes effectively and efficiently throughout the day. Plus, the system can be easily programmed to meet any unique needs, such as bringing in more outdoor air if indoor air quality drops to an uncomfortable level.

Why Air Filtration in Custom Homes Became More Important

During the pandemic, people spent more time indoors, which led to our immune systems being weaker than normal. Dust, pollen, and bacteria now pose more of a threat to cause illness than in the past. This is part of the reason why the air-filter industry saw such a huge boom during the pandemic. Let’s break down why that was the case.

Ventilation is great at helping prevent viruses because of how it dilutes the air. However, larger particles are harder to remove using only this process. This is where air filtration comes into play. While there is a wide variety of air filters, many traditional HVAC systems come standard with filters that are only designed to help keep the system clean. Plus, the blowers in those systems can’t deal with the restrictions that are present in higher MERV-grade filters used to keep pollutants out of the home.

Learn more about MERV-grade filters and the benefits they provide with The Unico System HERE

The good news is that small-duct high velocity (SDHV) systems like The Unico System are designed to deal with high-pressure drops and use higher-grade filters. The Unico System uses MERV 7 filters, which capture a variety of contaminants, like mold spores, pet dander, and bacteria in custom homes.

Using UV Light for Air Disinfection in Custom Homes

For a long time, hospitals have been using UV light to disinfect surfaces and clean the air. The pandemic made homeowners realize that they could use this technology to help make their custom homes safer. It became popular to integrate UV light into standalone room filter systems for localized disinfection of air in a home through the HVAC system. These systems pull the air in a room into the device and expose it to UV light to improve indoor air quality.  This type of solution works great for a single room, but quickly becomes expensive if you want to integrate it into an entire custom home.

If you’re looking for a solution that can reliably provide whole-home air disinfection, it’s best to install the UV light directly into the duct system. The Unico System is an SDHV system that uses smaller ducts with higher air flow. Not only does this offer more installation flexibility for custom homes, but it also makes it easier to include UV light. Unico even offers cabinets with a pre-installed UV light system to give custom homes added peace of mind.

Custom Homes Are Safer with The Unico System

If you’re looking for the best all-around heating and cooling system for a custom home, choosing The Unico System is a smart choice. By improving indoor air quality with UV-light disinfection and having the installation flexibility of being an SDHV system, Unico is a great option for custom homes with unique design challenges.

Contact our Design Service team for a free consultation to learn more about how The Unico System can add cleaner air to your home.

Designing an Energy-Efficient HVAC

Designing an Energy-Efficient HVAC

Did you know that heating and cooling systems make up around 50% of a home’s energy usage throughout the year? Not only does having an energy-efficient HVAC system help reduce your home’s environmental footprint, but it also helps lower the energy costs for homeowners. In fact, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says that installing or upgrading your HVAC system can reduce energy usage by up to 50%.

That’s one of the main reasons why The Unico System stands out. Join us as we take a closer look at how The Unico System was designed to make HVAC systems more energy efficient.

Ducts Play a Big Role in HVAC Energy Efficiency

When it comes to an HVAC system’s energy efficiency, you always hear about the SEER rating for central air conditioners and other efficiency ratings for mechanical systems like air handlers or blowers. While that’s important, the efficiency and overall effectiveness of the ducts are what’s most important in delivering conditioned air. This notion was one of the driving forces behind the creation of The Unico System.

With a traditional system, heat often leaks from the ducts within the walls through seams (duct leakage) as well as through the walls of the ducts themselves (thermal loss). The Unico System has roughly one-third of the surface area of conventional ducting, which automatically lowers the amount of thermal loss in a home. Plus, the tubing is wrapped with an insulation barrier and an outer vapor barrier that keep nearly all the thermal energy in the ducts.

The Unico System is designed for air tightness. Third-party testing identified that traditional systems could lose up to 25% of the air put through ductwork. With The Unico System, that number goes down to just 5%.

Creating Even Room Temperature for Increased Energy Efficiency

Traditional HVAC systems use ducts to dump air into a room. Unfortunately, this process often creates wide swings in temperature across the room. When a room has pockets of varying temperatures, the HVAC system must work harder and use more energy to keep the space at a reasonable comfort level.

The Unico System uses smaller ducts placed throughout the room, creating a more consistent temperature thanks to the air coming out fast and quiet. The variable speed motor in the system helps ensure that energy doesn’t go to waste through overheating or overcooling an area. This is part of the reason why The Unico System costs an average of 22% less than a traditional HVAC system to keep a room comfortable.

The system itself isn’t the only way Unico helps custom homes become more energy efficient. Through free design services, Unico will take the hard part out of making your HVAC system more energy efficient by:

  • – Doing a BTU calculation on each room, which will identify the optimal amount of Unico outlets needed for peak comfort and energy efficiency.
  • – Accounting for the thermal envelope ratings in the room, such as windows, wall insulation, and more.
  • – Looking at the recommended amount of air changes per hour according to the ASHRAE manual for older residences and custom homes.


Electricity Usage of Traditional HVAC vs. The Unico System

Homeowners, contractors and many government regulators have an interest in HVAC systems that use less electricity. Traditional systems need to run longer in a 24-hour period to maintain the same temperature level compared to The Unico System. That fact is due partly to the efficiency of the ducts that we mentioned above. The Unico System also manages to maintain humidity levels without requiring long run times.

Given the amount of power that’s needed to run HVAC systems, it’s important that we discuss vampire power (the power that’s consumed when the system is completely off). While every home appliance has some level of vampire energy loss, traditional HVAC systems can be one of the highest contributors in a home. The Unico System roughly uses three times less vampire power, helping homeowners save on monthly energy bills.

Get Comfort and Energy Efficiency with The Unico System

If you’re planning to build a custom home, The Unico System is a great way to make your HVAC system more energy efficient. Contact our free Design Services team today to learn more about the advantages Unico offers your home.

The HVAC Solution for Missing Ductwork in Older Homes

The HVAC Solution for Missing Ductwork in Older Homes

The process of getting an HVAC solution that provides lasting comfort and energy efficiency for an older home can be a challenge. Many older homes relied on steam systems for heat or weren’t built with ductwork for air conditioning. These homes often lack the necessary space to run traditional ducts without major renovations or compromises to the living space. The good news is that there is a solution for missing ductwork in older homes.

Consider a Small-Duct/High-Velocity System

While older homes have classic charm and detail, they often don’t have the internal wall space to run traditional ductwork. Plaster and lathe walls can limit the interior wall cavity space, and floor joists may be built to different standards compared to modern building practices. This makes putting in traditional ductwork, which is 8 inches by 12 inches in diameter, a challenge that often requires significant renovations. However, The Unico System uses small ducts that are only 2 inches in diameter, making it easy to work them into almost any older home structure.

The Unico System was designed with small spaces in mind. Unico ducts are engineered to fit within small areas in existing walls and ceilings. They’re also flexible, which gives contractors the ability to thread them through spaces that can’t fit traditional ducts. Plus, every Unico duct is made with an insulated nylon core, which prevents thermal loss, to make every room more comfortable by delivering consistent temperatures.

Installing Small Ducts in Older Homes

Another advantage The Unico System has for older homes with missing ductwork is the air handling unit (AHU). With traditional HVAC systems, the AHU is often large and box-shaped, which makes it difficult to find space that accommodates it. The AHU used in The Unico System is small enough to fit in the attic or other out of the way spaces in older homes. It’s just another way Unico makes older homes more comfortable without the need for extensive renovations.

Equipment Placement in Missing Ductwork HVAC Solutions

To get a better understanding of why The Unico System is such a good fit for older homes with missing ductwork, we’ve laid out some of the key equipment placements including:

Air Supply Outlets: Contractors with support from Unico will go room to room and figure out the optimal placement for the air supply outlets. Many owners of older homes like them to be in the corners of the room. The flexibility of the nylon-core ducting allows for more possibilities.

AHU: As we mentioned above, the Unico AHU is compact and can fit easily in the attic, basement, or closet of older homes. These units are also modular, so different arrangements can be used to make performance and maintenance easy for the specific layout of your home.

Ductwork: The ductwork we’ve engineered as part of The Unico System is small. It can be fed through confined spaces without leaking air to keep your older home as energy efficient as possible. With our small duct system, there’s no need to worry about costly renovations for your older home to maintain comfortable temperatures year-round.

The Unico System is Made to Match Your Older Home’s Style

The Unico System has a wide range of outlet vent designs that will match the style of your older home without compromise. They can be painted or stained to match almost any interior design look to help them blend into the room. The unique aesthetics of your older home will stay the same since the Unico ducts will hardly be noticeable in the room.

Make Your Older Home More Comfortable with The Unico System

Older homes that have missing ductwork still have the potential to be more comfortable thanks to The Unico System. Your older home has an appeal that’s worth preserving, and our small ducts can be threaded through the existing infrastructure without major remodeling. Find a contractor near you who has experience installing The Unico System in older homes.