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What is the best heating and cooling plan for renovating an old building into apartments?

We currently have central forced air that has the ductwork going through the cold attic, and the suspended ceiling. I would like to tear out the suspended ceiling and put up drywall over the old broken lathe and plaster.

Should I run new duct work under the floor to floor registers (we have room for this since there is space above the ground floor's suspended ceiling).

Or should I install electric baseboard heat, and a mini split A/C unit.

Another option is to run Pex tubing up from an existing gas boiler in the basement and add old cast iron radiators. But then we would still need an A/C unit for each apartment.

This is a 1930's brick building located in zone 5A or Southeast Iowa.

Asked by Aaron Hirshberg
Posted Thu, 12/19/2013 - 01:37
Edited Thu, 12/19/2013 - 07:06

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1 Answer

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Aaron,
You've got a big basket of apples and oranges there, don't you?

These are very basic questions. Here's my advice:

1. First, choose a fuel. Electric baseboard heat is much more expensive than most other options. Does your building have access to natural gas?

2. After you have chosen a fuel, talk to a mechanical engineer you trust. If you really have no idea whether you prefer electric baseboard heat, a boiler, a furnace, or ductless minisplits, you need to sit down with a patient expert and have a long conversation.

3. Before you sit down with an engineer, you might want to read these articles from the GBA Encyclopedia:

Heating Options

Heat Pumps

Ductless Minisplit Heat Pumps

Boilers

Furnaces

Forced Air HVAC Systems

Hydronic Systems

Space Heaters

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Thu, 12/19/2013 - 06:56
Edited Thu, 12/19/2013 - 07:04.

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