It’s hard to believe, but air conditioning hasn’t always been around in the homes you see today.
Sure, most homes built in the last few decades have central air. But, that wasn’t really an option until the 70s. Anything that went up before that wasn’t built with AC in mind.
In Chicagoland, early suburbs such as Wheaton, Naperville and St. Charles have their fair share of old homes. In fact, Illinois overall has a high number of homes built in the 50s. The Fox River Valley is no exception.
And, many of these older homes were built with no ductwork. Instead, they relied on steam heat and radiators among other sources. Because of all this, many homeowners have to choose between:
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these solutions.
Odds are, you’ve seen window AC units. You’ve probably owned one or two yourself. You know the drill: Lug them out in the spring, clean them off and stick them in the window.
Wall unit air conditioners are a close cousin. It’s pretty much the same thing. But, someone’s carved out a spot in the wall and installed in permanently.
For years, these have done the trick - in a pinch, at least. But, there are plenty of drawbacks. For instance, these are notoriously loud. We’ve heard plenty of people say they can’t talk to each other or watch TV with them on.
They’re also not cheap to run. These use a lot of electricity but aren’t nearly as effective as a central unit. It’s sort of the worst of both worlds.
A more recent option is the portable air conditioner. These are units you can roll around and place almost anywhere. They vent through a small window opening and are much easier to set up.
They may be silent, but they still use a lot of energy. And, they’re not nearly as effective as other options.
That’s why some people consider retrofitting their house with ductwork. Finally, they can get the whole-house treatment they’ve always wanted. But, it comes with a price - literally.
It costs thousands of dollars just to design, build, and install the ducts. Then you have to shell out even more for the unit itself. And, they take up a lot of room in the house since it wasn’t originally designed with it in mind.
That brings us to an option that’s becoming more and more popular, especially for older homes.
Ductless air conditioning is an HVAC system that can treat your entire house without ductwork or vents. Instead, it uses an outdoor heat pump to transfer thermal energy. Inside the home are air handlers that circulate the air.
In many ways, a ductless air conditioning system, or mini-split, is better than a central system or smaller AC’s. Compared to traditional units, the mini-splits:
How do they do all that? Well, it’s got to do mostly with how they’re hooked up. Like a central AC, minis-splits use a heat transfer process. It essentially moves the heat indoors to outside.
What’s different is how the heat travels. Instead of ductwork, narrow refrigerant lines connect the heat pump to the indoor air handlers. The refrigerant attracts the heat and transfers it to the pump.
Now, those lines are less than three inches thick. Our installers run them in between beams behind the walls. That means you never see them, and you don’t have to make any sort of room for them.
And, you get way more customization this way. Based on what you need, we usually set up three or four indoor parts to cover the whole house. Each one has its own thermostat. So, you can set them all individually.
Upstairs usually gets too hot? The handlers up there work longer than the ones downstairs. This way you’re not too hot at night, and you’re not freezing out your first floor.
And, at their loudest, the handlers produce less than 24 decibels. That’s literally whisper-quiet. It’s the same volume as leaves rustling outside.
Ductless air conditioning offers plenty of benefits in an older home with no ductwork. You can cool your entire home without spending all the money to retrofit your home with ducts and vents. And, it offers energy-efficient climate control without changing the look and feel of your house. It costs less to run and works better than other options.
That’s right, they save you money, too. Here’s how.
Remember we mentioned how each handler has its own thermostat? Well, that’s called zoned HVAC. You use less energy because you’re not overdoing it in one area to make up for another.
And, there’s more. The mini-split uses inverter technology. Think of it as cruise control for your AC. Traditional units cycle on for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, then the temperature rises before they start cooling again. They’re always playing catch-up.
Instead, the mini-split goes full-power to get the temperature you want. Then, it goes to low-power mode just to maintain it. It’s much more efficient than switching on and off all the time.
Now, you have to consider all this when it comes to purchasing a system like this. But, when you’re deciding how much to invest in state-of-the-art HVAC, keep this in mind: You can get rebates that drastically reduce the cost of your new mini-split.
Check out ComEd’s page on appliance rebates. Like many energy providers across the country, they offer cash incentives when people purchase energy-efficient appliances. Mini-splits fit that bill.
This way, you start out paying less than you expected. And, the savings keep coming. After that, your energy bills are lower than they were with portable, window or wall unit AC’s.
Are you ready to finally cool your entire home without paying too much for installation or on your energy bills? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for you.