By Rick Hatch, Owner R&W Heating Energy Solutions, LLC
Nowadays the Utilities are doing more and more with incentives and rebates under the pre-tense of energy savings. But are the systems and equipment they incentivize the best way to go? It may be wise to consider other factors before making those big purchases.
Ductless mini splits are extremely popular, and rightfully so. They can be very inexpensive to run and provide comfort to spaces that once were too cold or too hot. The utilities though, require extreme low temperature units in order to qualify for the largest rebates. Sometimes the additional cost of these low temp. units will totally consume, or exceed the rebate amount given to install a system that can produce full BTU capacity at below zero temperatures. (Standard temperature models can deliver full heating capacity to an outdoor temperature of 5°F above zero. Which, by the way, may be more than what the code requires when doing a load calculation).
It is more important and beneficial to a homes’ comfort to be sure of complete coverage throughout all of the square footage of the house, or the rooms you occupy the most, with the proper BTUs needed. Not to mention that statistically our area has less than 60 hours a year of below 10°F temperatures.
Comfort would be better achieved perhaps, by installing more zones. For example, installing a unit in that formal dining room seldom used allows you to heat or cool the area when you need to, versus raising the main thermostat and heating up the entire house or zone.
Quite often, maybe even the majority of the time, having two smaller BTU units instead of one larger unit will offer far superior performance for very little additional cost. This is where it may be feasible to use the money you save from not buying a more expensive low temperature unit, and add another zone.
Typically, the driving force behind the purchase of mini splits is for the AC function – not really for the heating ability. When the main goal of the purchase is for AC, a lesser number of zones are often installed. This is because when running an AC system that is excellent at removing humidity, an adjoining room may be quite comfortable without a unit of its own. When it comes time to use the system for heat, you may realize now that the adjoining room is not heating as well as you expect. Then the contractor hears “mini-splits can’t heat well when its cold outside”. This may be why most rebates require the low temperature models, thinking these will heat better. Which, in the seldom occurring extreme temperatures, they will – however, a low temperature model does not put heat into a room that has no indoor unit in it.
Talk to your HVAC contractor and trust in their knowledge. All day they are called on to solve complaints about rooms too hot or too cold. As long as you’re working with a reputable contractor, the solution they offer is very seldom driven by trying to make money; It is driven by their desire to make your home comfortable, and build a long-term business relationship.
At R&W Heating Energy Solutions, LLC, we are a family owned and operated business. We employ highly motivated, experienced, and dependable technicians, with a combined experience of over 80 years in the HVAC field. We welcome your calls and questions, and invite you to stop in our office and meet our team – son, daughter, nephew, daughter-in-law, and our fourteen other employees who have become part of our family!