Ductless Heating & Cooling

Why ENERGY STAR?

Ductless heat pumps, or mini split heat pumps, are an alternative to radiator or baseboard heating, as well as a replacement for window units for cooling. No duct work is needed. Instead, a head unit, or multiple head units, are mounted on an interior wall or ceiling, with an accompanying unit outside. The outside unit extracts heat from the air, even when it’s cold. Refrigerant carries the heat directly to the head(s) inside, which then delivers heated air to occupied space. In warmer months, the system works in reverse for quiet, efficient air conditioning.

Mini split heat pumps that earn the ENERGY STAR label are independently certified to save energy, save money, and protect the climate. Because they transfer rather than generate heat, ENERGY STAR certified mini splits use up to 60% less energy than standard home electric radiators.

Ductless Heating and Cooling

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BUYING GUIDANCE

Is a mini split right for you?

Mini splits can be utilized for whole home heating and cooling, but are also a great fit to supplement your existing HVAC system depending on your needs.

Mini splits are increasingly being used in situations, such as:

  • Homes with costly electric heat (e.g., baseboard, furnace, wall heaters, electric radiant) that will also benefit from cooling.
  • Older homes with no existing ductwork (e.g., radiators or baseboard heat) that have never had central air conditioning before.
  • Existing homes with high fuel costs.
  • Additions or outbuildings (e.g., shed, barn, garage) where extending ductwork or heating/cooling capacity is difficult. Spaces adjacent to unconditioned spaces where ductwork would be exposed to harsher temperatures (e.g., a guest room above a garage).
  • New, high-efficiency homes, including ENERGY STAR certified homes.
  • Older commercial buildings with no existing ductwork for air conditioning or expansions. 
  • Where hot or cold spots exist within homes including spaces which serve as home offices.
  • Rooms require additional heating with a preference to reduce fossil fuel consumption from primary heating source.
  • Buildings with an older central heating unit that would like to replace it with a whole home clean heating solution.

Cold Climate Considerations

Many new ENERGY STAR certified mini split models excel at providing space heating even in the coldest of climates, as they use advanced compressors and refrigerants that allow for improved low temperature performance. If you live in a climate where winter temperatures regularly dip below freezing, talk to your contractor to choose an ENERGY STAR certified unit suited to your particular home.

Other Benefits:

  • Lower energy bills by switching from electric resistance, propane, and oil to heat pumps
  • No combustion means no direct emissions such as NOx, carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide
  • No fuel storage or risk of running out of fuel

Take Advantage of Incentives

Many utilities offer incentives for installing ENERGY STAR certified mini splits. Check with your local utility for more details or visit the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder. In addition, there may be a federal tax credit available for mini splits that earn the ENERGY STAR. Learn more.

What else should I look for when buying a mini split?

Remember, even though ENERGY STAR certified products can be more expensive to purchase up front, the cost difference will be paid back through lower energy bills. Perform regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system to prevent future problems and unwanted costs.

Find Certified Equipment

Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for a ductless heating and cooling system. The easiest way to find a model is to ask a professional installer for an ENERGY STAR certified 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.

A list of ENERGY STAR certified 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.

Learn How a Product Earns the Label

INSTALLATION TIPS

Installation Tips:

Indoor Unit

  • Remember that heat rises and cool air sinks, when gauging expectations for what areas of your home will receive benefits from a single wall unit.
  • Consider air flow. Open spaces are generally easier to cool and it can be challenging for heat to move through an open doorway, and impossible to move through a closed one.
  • Simplify your installation process through creative placement. By running wiring (line set) through closets, basement/attic stairways, attached garages, basements, crawlspaces, or attics, you can minimize the need to patch or paint walls and ceilings, and benefit from the aesthetics of minimal wiring. 

Outdoor Unit

  • Plan for an outdoor location that will be least intrusive based on your home and outdoor living needs. The right location will come at the intersection of personal aesthetic preference and home layout. 
  • Prioritize unobstructed airflow by avoiding tight placements with shrubs, structures, etc. The more air they have access to, the better they'll work.
  • Avoid installing the outdoor unit near doors and windows. Outdoor units release water when they defrost in the winter, which can form icy patches.
  • Check the location related to roof runoff, and make sure the unit is equipped with a rain cap if necessary.
  • Consider serviceability and ease of access when selecting an installation location.
SAVINGS TIPS

Utilize all year long – Your heat pump is more energy-efficient than a furnace or boiler, even during winter. If you have both, you should use your heat pump year-round.

Stick with a steady temperature – Unlike a furnace or boiler, heat pumps do not save energy by turning it down when you’re away or asleep. For best use, pick a comfortable temperature and leave it there.

Avoid Auto mode – Make sure your heat pump is set to “heat” or “cool” to avoid the system switching modes during unseasonably warm or cold days.

Optimize fan speed – Utilize the “auto fan” setting or adjust the fan to the lowest speed that will spread the heated or cooled air far enough to meet your needs.

Clean your dust filters – Just like traditional HVAC systems, heat pumps work best with clean filters. Heat pump filters should be cleaned when visibly dirty or when indicated by the filter light.

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