Air conditioning is a huge summer energy expense for many people. Once the weather gets warm, the ac goes on. And, it’s usually most cost-effective to keep it running all day and night. But, that still means paying a lot more on your electric bills than other times of the year.
Of course, using less energy would mean spending less on utilities. That sounds obvious, but it’s easier said than done. After all, you still want your home to stay cool in the summer. How can you do that without using the air conditioner less?
The answer is to zone your air conditioning. Doing so gives your entire home the climate control it needs. But, it doesn’t waste any energy doing so.
Zoned hvac is when separate thermostats and cooling systems treat each part of your home. It’s different from one thermostat controlling the entire house. With zoned, you can eliminate hot and cold spots. It also requires less energy, thus saving money.
Typically, you’ll use a ductless system to create zones. These have the power of a central unit but offer much more flexibility.
To work, they use an outdoor heat pump that provides heat or cooling. Then, ductless panels, or air handlers, inside the house circulate the treated air. The two are connected by plastic tubing that runs through the walls.
Each panel has its own thermostat. That means you can set each one to whatever temperature you prefer. Setting the panels all to the same temperature provides even climate control throughout the house.
With central hvac, one thermostat tells the system when to turn on and off. But, the temperature in the room with the device isn’t the same as other parts of the house. So, when a thermostat on the first floor controls it all, the other areas won’t get the proper treatment.
Using ductless mini-splits solves this problem. And, they’ll use less energy to do so.
That’s because not each panel will work the same amount of time. Whenever a sector reaches the temp you want, it turns off. That’s different from the whole system working to treat the most difficult sections.
To create zoned cooling, a professional will identify the best way to section off each area. Then, they’ll determine the best spot for the panels. From there, they need to install the heat pump, run the piping and mount the panels.
The installation process takes just a few hours. There’s no major work to do, and you’ll barely even notice the panels are there. They’re made to work so quietly that, even on full blast, you won’t hear anything unless you’re directly beneath them.
Ductless mini-splits can supplement an existing central air conditioner. But, they won’t connect to existing ductwork. Instead, this system works alongside the one you have.
To make this work, you’ll first identify the parts of your home that need extra treatment. Which rooms are too hot in the summer? Those are the ones that get air handlers.
Once you’ve installed panels, set all the thermostats to the same temperature. What will happen is that your central system will not work as much to achieve the effect you want.
That’s because the panels will pick up the slack. Those spots that are always too warm will reach the right temp. And, you won’t have to overtreat other rooms to achieve that.
From there, you can think about when don’t need a particular room at the same temperature as the rest of the house. Consider, for instance, if you don’t spend a lot of time in the bedroom during the day. If so, you don’t need to keep it as cool until the evening.
Finally, there will be times when you use the panels and not your central system. That often occurs in the spring or the end of the summer. That’s when the weather is just warming up or finally cooling down.
If you usually turn on your ac during that time, you won’t have to do so now. The panels alone will be enough to keep you cool during that time.
Ductless cooling saves money in a few different ways. A zone system does not run as often, or as long, as central air or window units. And, the air handlers and heat pump use less energy to create the same cooling as other ac’s. Finally, homeowners in many places can get a cash rebate for installing ductless.
The first one is simple. We already looked at how this system works for less time. That means it uses less energy than other methods. And, using less power means paying for less electricity. That lowers your monthly electric bill.
Next, there’s the amount of energy the panels use even when they’re on. And, that amount is almost always less than other ac’s. That occurs for a few reasons.
First, a heat pump requires much less electricity than a conventional ac. That’s because it uses a heat exchange process to extract heat and circulate the now-colder air. It just needs a little bit of power to get the process started.
Next, ductless does not waste energy. Ductwork is never sealed tight. And window units let treated air escape out the window where it is mounted. That’s air you’re paying to treat but not using.
By contrast, a heat pump and air handler setup don't waste energy. The tubing is sealed tight, so no air escapes along the way. And, the panels are mounted inside, not in a window where air can escape.
In Kane County and Chicago, ComEd offers discounts for homeowners who install energy-efficient appliances. Depending on your setup, you can get a few hundred, or even a thousand dollars, back in rebates.
That money serves as upfront savings on the investment you make on installation. From there, you’ll spend less each month on energy bills. By combining those savings, after a while the system essentially pays for itself.
Are you interested in zoned air conditioning to save money and provide better climate control? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for your home.