A mini split system air conditioner can pay for itself over time while also helping you to have less of an impact on the environment As Americans, we spend more than $11 Billion a year cooling our homes. More than 50% of our energy costscome from cooling and heating our homes. When oil prices increase, it might even be more than that if you use oil to heat your home instead of gas. A mini split system could be the answer to lowering your energy costs and protecting the earth.
That’s one of the reasons why energy efficiency is so important. No matter which compact or large appliance you buy for your home make sure it is the most energy efficient one you can get for the money you are spending. As with most other things in life, the higher the energy efficiency rating is, the more money it will cost you.
If you are willing and financially able to invest in a new cooling and heating system in your home, a mini split system could be just what you need to help you cut down on cooling and heating costs. While mini split systems are more expensive to buy and to install, they do pay for themselves over time, especially if you use home heating oil to heat your home. You can find many customer reviews all over the internet to attest to that fact.
Both central air conditioning and mini split system air conditioning are zoned heating and cooling systems. There is an indoor unit and an outdoor unit that usually sits on a concrete slab. With central air conditioning, the indoor unit is the furnace with a blower attached to it to circulate the air around the house through ductwork. With mini split systems, the indoor unit is usually mounted on a wall or on the ceiling.
Why is Flexibility So Important?
In older one floor homes central air conditioning usually has one zone for all of the rooms. In older two level homes central air conditioning might have two zones. I place an emphasis on the word might because it is usually cheaper for the contractor to put the whole house in one zone. The contractor makes more money if he keeps costs down by installing one zone instead of two.
That means there is no flexibility if you have central air conditioning. When you turn on the heat or air conditioning your whole house is being heated or cooled even if you are the only one at home. Doesn’t that seem like a big waste of money to you? Why should you have to heat or cool your whole house if you are going to spend most of your day in the living room, family room or the kitchen? With a mini split ac, you only have to heat or cool the room you are using instead of the whole house. That fact alone will save you money.
With a mini split system, you can easily have more than one zone if you are financially able to afford it. Also, you can have up to four indoor units connected to one outdoor unit. If you have a small home, you might be able to do with only one zone. With a regular size home, two zones should be sufficient. That means you can have an indoor unit in just about every room of your home.
Why Should SEER, EER, HSPF and Energy Star Matter?
A mini split system is rated by SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) instead of EER ( Energy Efficiency Ratio) which other types of air conditioners are measured by. The SEER and EER are figured out differently but represent the same thing. You can read more about how they are determined by reading my article about different types of air conditioners by clicking here.
There is also HSPF(Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) which measures how energy efficient a heat pump is over an average heating season. As with EER and SEER the higher the HSPF, the better the unit. The higher the HSPF the more energy efficient it is. While it is okay to use the mini-split system as your primary heat source in some parts of the country, it is not recommended in the North, Northeast or other areas of the country where the temperature drops down to the teens or lower in the winter.
Energy Star Ratings are also important. It means that a product exceeds the energy standards set by the federal government. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the product is. The Energy Star program is a part of the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency). Buying an Energy Star rated product means the product will save the most money in energy usage and have less impact on the environment than other products.
The more Energy Star products you buy to replace older products that are no longer working, the more energy efficient your home will be. The more energy efficient your home is, the more money you will be saving on utility bills. Plus you have the added bonus of knowing you are helping to protect the environment which is better for your families future. You can read more about the energy star program and products by clicking here.
So How Does A Mini Split System Save Me Money?
Mini split system air conditioning units are so much more energy efficient than conventional air conditioning. Add the energy star rating to that, which many split systems have, and you have a home run.
The main way a mini split system saves money is through inverter technology which is VRF (variable refrigerant flow). The device moves from low to high speed smoothly without the added expense of turning the unit off and on which is what happens when you turn the air conditioner or heat on and off.
Most of the cost of using your heating and air conditioning unit is caused from starting it up. Although it goes against the grain, it is much more energy efficient to turn your thermostat on, leaving it on throughout the course of the day. Your unit expends much more energy when you turn it on and off than it does if you leave it on a set temperature the whole day. It costs so much more money every time you start the unit up from scratch.
Inverter Technology: The Biggest Advantage
This is not so with mini split systems and inverter technology. The compressor changes speeds according to the needs of the room. It varies the compressor speed, which reduces power and energy consumption and that saves you money. Some units have a sensor which automatically senses changes in the temperature and adjusts the ambient temperature in the room so you will always be comfortable and not have to worry about hot and cold spots.
There are no temperature extremes when you have a mini split system. Since you can put one unit in every bedroom, you no longer have to worry that one person will feel overheated while another person is freezing. Each person can have their room at the comfort level that is best for them.
I have a hypoactive thyroid which means that my body temperature is much lower than other people in my family. I drive my family crazy because I am always cold, even during the summer. We are switching to a mini split system so I will not continue to make my family roast in the winter because I’m always freezing and turning up the heat. I am also reluctant to turn on the air conditioner because after a few minutes of it, I’m too cold.
We are going to start out with one zone first, with our open living space which includes the living room dining room and the kitchen. Eventually, when we can afford it, we will do a second zone for the bedrooms. Since each indoor unit comes with its own remote control, we will each be able to have the temperature that is most comfortable for us.
Advantages Over Central Air Conditioning
That is another plus for a mini split system you don’t have to heat or cool the whole house at once as you might have to do with central air conditioning. Who wants the mess of having walls and ceilings ripped apart for ducting more than once? The inconvenience would hardly be worth it unless you had a two story home in which case its easier to do one zone at a time.
All air conditioners remove a certain amount of moisture from the air, but some mini split systems have a dehumidify mode and an air circulation mode in which you don’t have to heat and cool the room, you can just have the air circulating to prevent stagnation. You don’t have to buy a separate dehumidifier or a fan.
Another upside and possible money saver are the sophisticated multi-part filters that many of the mini split systems have. We all know that in many cases poor indoor air can be much more harmful than outdoor air. Some of these filters reduce odors, germs, viruses and bacteria while at the same time trapping the dust, pollen, and mites that plague allergy sufferers.
If you or a family member has allergies or asthma, buying a mini split system that has a sophisticated filter system can have your family breathing much cleaner air. This could reduce allergy and asthma symptoms allowing you to have fewer trips to the doctor. Fewer doctor visits could be more money in your pocket.
Due to its inverter technology, mini split system air conditioning has the potential to save you money on your heating and cooling costs. The fact that each indoor unit has a remote control and that you only have to have the units on in the rooms the family is occupying is less expensive and so much more energy efficient than other types of air conditioners.
Here are the things you need to look for if you are ready to purchase a mini split system air conditioner. Try to buy the unit with the highest SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) you can afford. You also need to get a unit that has the highest Energy Star rating you can afford.
If you purchase a mini split system with relatively high ratings on all three of those things, there is no reason the unit will not pay for itself in time by cutting your cooling and heating costs. Of course, you also have to maintain the unit on a regular basis. Without routine maintenance, your mini split system will not retain its energy efficiency. Cleaning the filters every week is crucial as well as periodically having someone give your outdoor unit a checkup…