According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling your home accounts for over half of all home energy use annually.  Rising energy costs have led many homeowners to consider zone heating and cooling with a ductless mini split system as a means to conserve energy and reduce utility bills in their home. The following post will cover the pros and cons of ductless air conditioning systems, the basics required for installation, and other valuable information.

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Zone Cooling is Energy Efficient and Cost Effective

Simply put, zone heating and cooling offers you more control and versatility over the temperature settings inside your home. In comparison, a typical split HVAC system utilizes a centrally located thermostat to maintain a constant temperature throughout the home. A ductless mini split with multiple heads gives you greater versatility by allowing you to control the temperature from zone to zone.

Ductless Mini Splits Provide Flexibility and Energy Efficiency

Ductless mini split HVAC systems are an efficient alternative to whole house HVAC systems. These systems are much easier to install versus conventional systems, as they do not require any ductwork. In addition, they provide greater flexibility in their configuration and are less expensive to install, maintain and operate.

A ductless mini split utilizes the same heat pump technology and is similar to larger, whole house systems with an outside condensing—compressor-unit and an inside air—evaporator—handler. By eliminating the need for ductwork, installation is quicker, easier and less expensive versus traditional systems requiring ductwork.

Installation of a typical ductless mini split system involves boring a 3-inch hole through an exterior wall and connecting the outside unit with one or more inside air handling units “also referred to has heads” via a conduit. The conduit houses the power supply cable, thermostat cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and condensate drain line. The condensing unit—compressor—rests on a stable pad or mounts to the exterior wall. The air handling units are mounted to interior walls in strategic locations within your home.

ductless mini split

Each inside air handler provides heating and cooling to separate zones, allowing you to activate one or all of the air handlers at once. This provides you with great flexibility versus a whole house system as you can choose the areas you want to heat or cool. This can reduce your energy costs as you only heat or cool the zones or rooms you occupy, instead of the entire home. The principle of zone cooling is similar to other zoned systems already in your home. It would not be economical to turn on every light in the house when you are in the bathroom, or turn on every faucet while washing the dishes.

The number of zones your home will need depends on several factors such as its layout, size, the amount of daily use and your budget. The two most common ductless mini split configurations are a single unit designed to handle the heating and cooling needs of two zones simultaneously and a multi split ac system with each unit capable of operating independently.

Hiring an HVAC Contractor

Contact a licensed HVAC contractor to asses your usage and to size your ductless mini split system appropriately and according to your home’s layout. Before hiring an HVAC contractor, ask for a written estimate and copies of their HVAC license and insurance coverage. Since most municipalities require HVAC contractors to carry a valid heating and air conditioning license as well as liability and worker’s compensation insurance, you would be wise to verify their credentials before signing on the dotted line. Check with your local building department or attorney general’s office to verify their contractor license. Contact the applicable insurance companies to verify they hold the required insurance coverage. In addition, visit the BBB or Better Business Bureau website to search for recent complaints or legal action against said contractor or company.

Other Ways to Save Money on your Heating and Cooling Costs

Regardless of what type of HVAC system you have, the following tips will help you save a few dollars on your energy costs.
  • Maintain a tight envelope around your home. Replace damaged or deteriorating weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors.
  • Repair any cracks, gaps or holes in exterior walls paying close attention to areas where plumbing lines enter your home.
  • Always close the damper on your fireplace when it is not in use.
  • Maintain adequate attic insulation.

Saving Money with a Home Energy Audit

Contact your local utility company and sign up for a home energy audit. Many utility companies provide their customers with free or reduced rate energy audits. During a home energy audit, a professional energy auditor will inspect your home including your HVAC system, appliances as well as the exterior envelope to ascertain home energy efficiency. In addition, you can visit this site to search for home energy audits and rebates in your area.