When it comes to heating and cooling, you have two common options: a ducted HVAC system or a ductless mini split. Choosing the best option for your home or project means stacking up the facts and informing your decision carefully. After all, HVAC systems are the third or fourth largest purchase of a homeowner’s life!
A key factor in the decision-making process is how it will affect your utility bill. We know HVAC can lead to an expensive energy bill, but do ductless mini split systems as well? Here’s what to know.
Do Mini Splits Raise Your Electric Bill?
A ductless mini split system is known for its flexibility, compact size, and ability to offer more customized cooling to various rooms. Mini split systems are also known for energy efficiency. The simple answer of whether a mini split will raise a property owner's electric bill is "no."
Is a Mini Split More Efficient Than Central Air?
Yes! There are a few key factors that make mini split systems more efficient than central air.
- The ability to customize cooling based on the various zones.
- Mini splits don't have ducts - and therefore aren't subject to duct losses.
Engineering research indicates that duct loss is responsible for up to 30 percent of all energy consumption in central air conditioning units. This means that central air conditions often have to work harder to cool properties to offset duct loss taking place adequately. Because mini splits don't have ducts, it's estimated that they're at least 30 percent more energy efficient than a conventional central air conditioner.
How Much Electricity Do Mini Splits Use?
To further clarify mini split electric bill savings, consider this: Each indoor handler uses anywhere from 500 to 700 watts per hour of power, or 0.5 to 0.7-kilowatt hours (kWh). Mini split outdoor compressors can connect up to four indoor units to cool these dedicated zones. If all four zones are cooling at once, that's anywhere from 2,000 to 2,800 watts of electricity being used for each hour of cooling (2 to 2.8 kWh).
Most central air conditioners tend to consume much more electricity. They typically use about 1,000 watts per ton per hour. For example, a 3.5-ton central air conditioner will use about 3,500 watts of electricity per hour while cooling (3.5 kWh). When you compare a mini split system’s electrical use to central air electrical use, mini splits offer significant energy savings.
Looking at the mini split cost calculator, long-term savings can be significant. Consider a central air conditioner and mini split system both running three hours per day at a cost of 23 cents per kWh (the U.S. national average).
- A 3.5-ton central air conditioner would cost about $2.40 per day to run.
- A mini split system with four zones would cost about $1.38 per day to run.
The savings certainly add up over days, weeks, months, and years. What's more, these cost calculations don't take duct loss into consideration. They also don't consider the unique ability to offer custom cooling. In reality, the cost savings are likely even greater than what's calculated above.
Other Key Benefits of Mini Splits
Besides the energy efficiency benefits, there are several other advantages of installing a ductless AC mini split system:
- Mini splits are flexible cooling solutions. They can expand as a property grows without requiring any additional ductwork.
- Mini splits are easier to install than conventional central air conditioning systems. Outdoor condensers can be installed up to 50 feet away from the indoor air handlers. This allows for zone installation throughout the property and not just near the condenser.
- Mini splits can effectively cool any size property: One condenser and four zones can adequately cool up to 3,000 square feet.
- Mini splits run quietly. Many indoor air handlers run at sounds as low as 19 decibels. For reference, that's about as loud as someone whispering from 5 feet away.
Overall, mini splits are a cost-effective option for heating and cooling. You won’t see a huge hike in an electric bill, and they offer flexibility that traditional HVAC systems don’t. Reach out to us if you need help choosing the best mini split for your needs.