Ductless Heating For Your Home
When it comes to heating and cooling your Rochester home, ductless heating holds many benefits over traditional furnaces, radiators, electric baseboard heating and central air conditioning. If you’ve been in the market for an upgrade in your home, or have researched renewable energy, you’ve probably heard the term and know that it’s an efficient and eco-friendly way to control the climate in your home.
Ductless heating is different from other HVAC systems in that it uses separate units to independently heat or cool an area. It combines the power of a centralized unit with the customization of space heaters or window-unit air conditioners. And, it does that while being less intrusive and using less energy than those other methods.
Ductless heating works using stand-alone panels that are mounted on a wall, usually near the ceiling. Each one can heat or cool a zone in the house, with other panels handling other areas. All it needs to work is a small tube that connects to a condenser on the outside of the house. The tube is usually no wider than three inches and goes through the wall behind the panel, where you can’t see it.
In general, ductless panels offer more customization and lower energy bills each month. And, more specifically, they can address persistent home HVAC problems that other systems can’t. Here are a few things ductless panels can do for you:
You know that one room that’s just never the right temperature? Ductless heating can help. Maybe it’s that drafty bedroom over the garage. Or the basement living room where your nose is always cold. According to one highly scientific study — and by that we mean a game show — the coldest room is most often a bathroom.
Whatever, or wherever, that room is, a ductless heating system can finally get it warm how you want it — without skyrocketing your heating bill.
That’s because, unlike a furnace or even baseboard heat, ductless heaters use separate panels throughout the home. Each one is responsible for a separate “zone” in your home. The layout for most houses calls for 3 or 4 panels, each with its own thermostat and independent ability to turn up or down.
This way, when each one is set to the same temperature, they don’t all have to be working at the same capacity. If the ground floor, for instance, stays warm easily, then the panel in that area shuts off much sooner than the panel that’s handling the problem room.
This is different from central heating, where some areas become too hot because the system continues blowing hot air until the coldest area reaches the right temperature. With a ductless heating system, the temperature is consistent throughout the house. Since one panel turns off when the area reaches, say, 68 degrees, it doesn’t continue providing more heat while another panel works more to maintain the same warmth in another part of the house.
Just as ductless heating can give you consistent temperature throughout a house, you can also use it to make one area of your home hotter than others. This is especially useful for people who rarely use one or two rooms, or generally stick to one part of a house during the day.
Ironically, using ductless heating to get different temperatures uses the same components that create one consistent temperature in the house. Since each panel has a different thermostat, you also have the option of setting each one to a different temperature.
If you have a guest bedroom, for instance, that’s rarely used, why spend the money — and energy — heating it? With a ductless heating system, you can turn down the thermostat in that zone. Now, that panel will rarely fire up, while others in the home continue working the same way. Meanwhile, if someone’s coming over for the weekend, you can just as easily raise the temperature while they’re around and then lower it when they leave.
The same goes for a duplex or similar multi-dwelling home. If you have a furnace, baseboard heat or radiators, you would end up heating an empty space just to keep the apartment with people in it warm. Or, you can use a ductless heating unit with multiple panels, and turn off the panels until someone moves in.
Efficiency and comfort are great, but are they worth the money for a ductless heating system? For most people, the answer is yes!
It’s true that ductless heating systems have a higher upfront cost than other heating methods. The national average to purchase and install a gas furnace, for instance, is just over $4000. With ductless heating, each unit can cost over $1500 with installation, and you usually need three or four units to heat a home.
After that initial cost, however, the savings start coming in. Many utility companies offer cash rebates to homeowners who install them.
Then come month-to-month savings in the form of smaller energy bills. How much you will save varies widely due to the average temperature in your region, and how much gas or electricity costs in your area, but generally in the Rochester area there is plenty of cold weather to save you on energy bills.
But, what’s constant is that 30 percent of the heat created in forced-air systems gets lost in the ductwork. So, you’re “getting back” around one-third of your energy by switching to ductless.
As a result, in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the country, the average annual savings over electric-based heaters is $459, according to the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships. That amount is even more for oil systems — up to $948 annually.