ENERGY STAR certified ductless heating and cooling systems are highly efficient products that deliver warm or cool air directly into different zones in your home, instead of routing it through ducts first. You may also hear them called mini-split, multi-split, or variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pump systems. They are an increasingly popular, cost-effective solution to replace inefficient baseboard electric heating and window air conditioners in older homes. They are also used in new construction, home additions, multi-family (condo or apartment) housing, and to improve comfort in poorly heated or cooled rooms.
ENERGY STAR qualified ductless heating and cooling systems:
- Save you money. Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year - nearly half the home's total energy bill. Replacing your system with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your heating and cooling costs by 30%.
- Give you more comfort and control. In traditional heating and cooling systems, you generally have one thermostat that controls the temperature of your entire home. With ductless heating and cooling systems, you can have control over the temperature of each zone.
- Don't need ducts. No ducts are required. The indoor components (pictured above) are mounted directly on the wall. A variety of attractive options are available from ENERGY STAR partners. In houses with traditional forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. With ductless heating and cooling, duct losses are eliminated?improving comfort, and saving you money.
- Can deliver both heating and cooling. Ductless heating and cooling systems are often a convenient, single solution for homes that formerly relied on electric baseboard heaters in the winter and window air conditioning units in the summer. However, in cold climates, consumers are advised to retain a supplemental heating system in case back?up heat is needed on very cold winter days. ENERGY STAR certified AC?only systems are also available.
- Are proven technology. Ductless heating and cooling systems have been around for over 30 years and are used widely throughout the world.
What else should I look for when buying a ductless heating and cooling system?
If you?ve decided that you want to purchase, learn how to hire a contractor and get an ENERGY STAR Quality Installation. Remember, even though ENERGY STAR qualified products can be more expensive to purchase up front, the cost difference will be paid back through lower energy bills.
The installation is relatively straight–forward; many contractors familiar with the technology find it easier to install than traditional heating and cooling systems. However, although this technology is widely used around the world, many contractors in the US are still unfamiliar with it. Be sure to search for a well–reputed contractor familiar with “ductless” or “mini–split” systems—the engineering terminology for mini–split heating and cooling. It may be useful to look for contractor that works in the commercial market as well as the residential market.
Remember to schedule regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system to prevent future problems and unwanted costs.
Finding Qualified Equipment:
The easiest way to find a model is to ask a professional installer for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. Be sure to shop around for a well–reputed contractor familiar with “ductless ” or “mini–split ” systems. ENERGY STAR offers tips on how to hire a contractor and get an ENERGY STAR Quality Installation.
A list of ENERGY STAR qualified models is available through an online database maintained by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the Air–Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). TIP: click on "Find Variable Speed Mini Split and Multi Split" heat pumps or air conditioners. It is important to know that this directory search engine does not require data to be entered into all of the fields.