Mini-Splits: A Comfy and Cozy Fall Companion

October 17, 2016

As autumn temperatures start to drop, our minds whimsically wander to comfortable afternoons at home with the basic fall necessities - pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters, and mini-split heat pumps. Wait, what? What are mini-split heat pumps?

A mini-split system is made up by two components: an outdoor compressor and one or more indoor air handling units, connected by a conduit through your wall which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain. They usually have no ducts, but can sometimes have a short duct system. Mini-split heat pumps provide cooling for the hot summer months, but can also produce the heat needed to endure a cold New England winter. They can be a good choice for room additions where installing distribution ductwork may not be feasible, and also for more efficient new homes that require only a small space conditioning system. Some people use mini-splits as a supplemental heating system, keeping their old system as a backup, but there are many new mini-splits that will operate efficiently even in a New England winter (without a backup system).  Please visit the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships’ website for a list of cold climate heat pumps.

What are the advantages of mini-splits?

Perhaps the biggest advantages of mini-splits are their small size and ability to heat (and cool) individual rooms. Many models allow multiple indoor air-handling units (for multiple rooms) that all connect to one outdoor unit. Each room has its own thermostat, so you only need to heat rooms as needed which in turn will save energy and money.

Another advantage of these systems is that they are generally easier to install than some other heating and cooling systems. Also, the outdoor unit can be placed as far as 50 feet away from the indoor evaporator, which makes it possible to heat and cool rooms on one side of your home but locate the outdoor unit in a more inconspicuous place outside of the building.

Mini-splits also offer more interior design flexibility to accommodate creative ideas. The indoor air handlers can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted flush into a drop ceiling, or hung on a wall. Most offer a remote control to make it easier to control systems positioned out-of-reach, although you’ll usually be better off leaving them set at a constant temperature rather than using your normal setbacks – they’re actually more efficient that way.

The Sponsors of Mass Save® offer rebates of up to $500 to residential electric customers of Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil for purchasing and installing mini-split heat pumps that meet certain energy efficiency standards.  Plus, you might want to also consider applying for a 0% HEAT Loan to finance your new equipment. What are you waiting for? Put down that pumpkin spice latte and contact an HVAC contractor to help you apply online or submit your mail-in mini-split heat pump rebate application. After all, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, it’s never too soon to start saving some extra money on your energy costs.

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