Is Ductless Heating and Cooling for You?
Ductless HVAC systems (or mini-split systems) are beautifully efficient and provide consistent room comfort. No more walking into a cold kitchen or bathroom because it is in the back of the house and the furnace or ac system isn’t strong enough to push the air. But the decision to install is different for every homeowner.
The Pros of a Ductless System
A ductless heat pump or air conditioner typically consists of a wall-mounted indoor unit combined with an outside compressor. It’s most often used in a situation where a window AC unit or baseboard heating would be considered, such as a new addition to a house. But unlike window units, ductless units require only a very small hole to be drilled into the wall, making them less vulnerable to air leakage and security problems. Plus, they’re less visible and audible.
They’re also exceedingly energy-efficient. In the average house, you’re losing 25 percent or more of your energy to ductwork. Simply by removing the ducts, you end up with a more efficient system. Ductless models also have inverter-driven compressors, which speed up and slow down based on the needs of the system instead of shutting off entirely like traditional HVAC compressors do. You consume a lot of energy during compressor start-up.
If you purchase an ENERGY STAR ductless model, in fact, you can save up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs for the space in question, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit and local utility incentives as well.
The Cons of a Ductless System
There are three strikes against ductless for most homeowners: up-front cost, regular maintenance and aesthetics. For those in extremely cold climates, there’s a fourth consideration: you’ll likely need a fuel-based backup if you want ductless heat, although some newer models can handle the load even when temps fall below zero.
For a single-room solution, ductless units cost several times more than comparable window units or baseboard heating units (thousands of dollars versus hundreds). And in whole-house terms, if you replace your existing central heating/cooling system with a complete ductless solution, you may pay two-to-three times the cost of simply replacing with another ducted unit. You’ll get lower energy bills in return, but the payback period depends on your climate, your use of the system, and your local electricity rates.
To maintain your system, you’ll have to wash each unit’s filter monthly (more often if you smoke or have pets). Don’t skip it: ductless fans can’t handle accumulating debris, and if you ignore maintenance and a professional cleaning is required, you’ll spend hundreds of dollars and possibly shorten the life of your system.
Many homeowners are hesitant to install ductless because the units aren’t necessarily design-friendly. They come in standard white or beige and can’t be covered. But ductless customers who are initially reluctant because of aesthetics report that after installation, they forget the unit is even there.
If you’re considering installing a ductless heating and cooling system, head to PlumbTile for their advice. The expert employees will be able to steer you in the right direction, so your house becomes the home of your dreams.