Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

We frequently receive inquiries about the operation of mini-splits and the factors that contribute to their high efficiency.

A mini-split system is energy efficient, among many other things. A mini-split with a zoning system can actually reduce your energy costs by up to 30%, according to the US Department of Energy. A mini-splits ability to function without ductwork is the main factor in its efficiency. This guarantees that no warm or cool air escapes through wall cavities due to faulty installation or aging ductwork.

Everything you need to know about ductless mini splits’ energy efficiency, operation, comparison to central heating and cooling, and advantages and disadvantages are covered on this page.

Are Mini-Splits More Efficient Than Traditional AC?

Variable-speed mini-split heat pumps are more energy efficient than traditional central air systems, partly due to the absence of ductwork, which is responsible for around 30% energy loss. The other big reason is mini-splits ability to modulate their output using variable speed compressors.

You may have heard that the future of HVAC is mini-split heat pumps with inverter-driven variable-capacity compressors. These are undoubtedly what we are seeing more and more of these days when it comes to high-performance, environmentally friendly homes.

Are Mini Splits More Efficient Than Central Air?

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Ductless mini-split units often achieve higher SEER ratings than central AC units and heat pumps. The highest published efficiency rating of a top-of-the-line Carrier split system air conditioner actually compares with a mid-level Carrier ductless mini split model. So why do mini splits outperform central air? That’s a complicated question, so let’s start by looking at how central air systems work.

One outdoor air conditioner or heat pump unit and one indoor unit—typically either a combustion furnace or an electric fan coil—are included in central forced-air systems. Through ductwork that is concealed behind your walls, heated or cooled air is distributed to the different rooms in your house.

The ductwork causes some of the heated or cooled air to lose some of its heating or cooling energy, which reduces system efficiency. Additional energy loss may result from ductwork that was improperly installed, leaky, or poorly insulated.

The fact that a central air system is made to provide comfort throughout the entire house, regardless of how many rooms are occupied, means that it frequently generates cooling or heating for spaces that may not actually require it at the time.

Why is a Mini-Split Heat Pump More Efficient?

Efficiency is a relative concept, so before we discuss why a variable speed mini-split is more effective, we must first consider the alternative.

Fixed Speed HVAC

A single speed, or possibly two speeds, was used in the past by HVAC systems. Many systems still function in this manner.

We recently went to see a friend who uses a standard single-speed compressor to power their central air system. When the temperature exceeds a preset threshold during the cooling season that he can set using a thermostat, his system begins to operate. His home’s central ductwork allows the air conditioner’s compressor to start cooling the air before it is distributed through the living spaces.

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Ductwork leaks from worn-out or damaged ductwork, poorly insulated ducts, and the energy required to blow air through the system result in a 30% energy loss from ducting, which is inefficient. Each bend in the ductwork increases energy losses, and occasionally ducts can kink, creating constrictions that further lower the system’s efficiency.

Variable Speed Inverter-Driven Compressor

Inverter-driven variable-speed compressors are typically found in mini-splits. Single-speed versions may be found on some devices, especially older ones, but they are becoming increasingly rare. Mini-splits are going to be variable speed in the vast majority of cases.

Most mini-splits are also ductless, so the energy losses due to ductwork, which are the source of the inefficiencies mentioned above, are not present in ductless heat pumps.

Having established the inefficiency of single-speed compressors, why are variable-speed compressors more effective? A driving example is the best way to demonstrate the idea.

With the current price of gas going through the roof, many people have started using “hypermiling” techniques to make their tanks of gas go further. Long used by those who care about the environment and want to reduce their carbon footprints, these strategies have more recently gained popularity among those who also want to save money.

In order to avoid braking, hypermiling entails driving more cautiously and strategically. Simply by maintaining momentum and driving along at a more or less steady speed, you can increase the efficiency of your car and save some serious cash.

This is why you get more MPG from your car when driving on the highway than in and around town. In a town, you are frequently starting and stopping, applying the brakes, and revving your engine harder in a lower gear.

The compressor in your AC unit or heat pump is subject to the same laws of physics as your car and will perform much better when operating at a steady speed than if it is continually turning on and off.

Mini-splits with variable-speed compressors driven by inverters can ramp up and down depending on the amount of heating or cooling required. When the temperature reaches the setpoint, the compressor is modulated down to a significantly lower speed that keeps the desired temperature.

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Compared to a fixed-speed compressor, which starts up and runs quickly until it exceeds the setpoint and shuts off, this is a lot more efficient. Then it waits until it is required once more to control the temperature.

A variable-speed compressor, which can run very slowly while consuming only a tiny amount of energy, is more efficient than this stop-start process. It is a significant factor in the vastly increased efficiency of a variable-speed mini-split heat pump over a single-speed HVAC system.

Zonal Heating

One of the essential advantages that mini-splits provide is customized heating. Your home can have individual temperature controls for each zone or room with this system. That implies that you can adjust the temperature in each space to suit your needs.

The thermostat can be adjusted, for instance, if you want the living room to be warmer than the bedroom. You won’t need to heat or cool spaces that aren’t being used, which can reduce your energy costs.

It can also give residents a more comfortable environment because everyone can set the temperature to their preferences. Mini splits are a great option if you’re searching for a heating system that offers flexible comfort and effectiveness.

Ductless Mini-Splits Are Quieter

Traditional HVAC systems have a tendency to be quite loud, especially when first turned on. Anyone who values quiet can find that to be a serious issue. For anyone who wants to avoid the noise pollution that conventional HVAC systems can produce, mini-splits are a great option because of how much quieter they operate.

Easier Temperature Control

Compared to conventional HVAC systems, mini-splits provide simpler temperature control. Most models come with a remote control, allowing for simple temperature control from any location in the room.

In addition, as mentioned, many models let you set various temperatures for various parts of your house. In other words, you can maintain a cooler temperature in your bedrooms while maintaining a comfortable temperature in your living room, saving you money on your energy bills.

Therefore, if you want an HVAC system that is user-friendly and offers better temperature control, a mini-split is something to think about.

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

How Much Electricity Does a Ductless Mini Split Use?

The size of the system, its brand, and model, whether you’re heating or cooling your home, and usage patterns all play a role in this.

For instance, you can anticipate about 600 watts if your mini-split operates at 8,000–9,000 BTUs, which is typical for many models. Higher wattages are likely during peak times, such as when it’s extremely hot or cold. Mini-splits are unquestionably energy-efficient. It might be time to schedule a consultation with a professional if you want to benefit from everything that these systems have to offer.

Can a Mini Split Work for More Than One Room?

Ductless mini-split comfort systems are an efficient and effective alternative to traditional central air. So, can a mini split work for more than one room? Yes, but bear in mind a few important points. Each individual space will initially require its own indoor unit. One outdoor unit might be enough, depending on the number of indoor spaces you have.

However, for larger homes, you may need an additional outdoor unit as well to accommodate the number of indoor units required. A second requirement is that each indoor unit is specifically sized to handle the heating or cooling requirements of a given room. “Sizing” in heating and cooling refers to how much heating or cooling in British thermal units per hour or BTU/h.

For smaller rooms, a 9000 BTU or 12,000 BTU unit will probably work. A larger capacity unit might be necessary for rooms that are bigger, have more windows, or are less insulated.

Tips for Making Your Home More Energy-Efficient

Having looked at some of the ways that ductless heat pumps can make your home more energy-efficient, let’s now look at some general tips for making your home more energy-efficient. After all, even if you don’t have a mini-split, you can still reduce your energy costs by making your home more energy-efficient.

Here are a few tips for making your home more energy-efficient:

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Get a Home Energy Audit

An excellent way to understand how much energy your home uses and to pinpoint areas for improvement is to conduct a home energy audit. The audit will evaluate how much energy is used in your home and offer tips for increasing effectiveness.

Check with your local provider as many utilities offer free or discounted audits. You can put the suggested changes into place after the audit is finished to help you use less energy and save money on utility bills.

Seal Air Leaks

One of the most significant sources of energy wastage in homes is air leaks. These are minute openings and cracks around doors, windows, and other openings that let heat escape in the winter and cool air escape in the summer.

Fortunately, repairing air leaks is a simple and affordable way to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Fill in any gaps and cracks around windows, doors, and other openings with caulk or weatherstripping.

Door sweeps can also be used to close the space between your door and the floor. Your energy consumption can be decreased and your utility costs can be decreased by plugging in air leaks.

Install Insulation

Installing insulation is a fantastic way to increase your home’s energy efficiency. Insulation makes your home more comfortable and uses less energy by helping to keep heat in during the winter and cool air out during the summer.

Choose the insulation material that best meets your needs from the many options offered on the market. Once you’ve installed insulation, you can enjoy lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.

Are Mini Split AC Units Energy Efficient?

Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances

If you have outdated, inefficient appliances, replacing them with more energy-efficient models can help you save money on your utility costs because they consume less energy overall.

Always look for models that have earned the Energy Star certification when looking for energy-efficient appliances. The most energy-efficient models available are those with an Energy Star certification.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Using a programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for the morning, afternoon, and evening, so you’re not heating or cooling your home when you don’t need to.

Use Natural Light Whenever Possible

Utilizing natural light as much as possible is among the simplest ways to cut energy usage. Consider letting the sunshine into your home by leaving your curtains or blinds open during the day. Utilizing skylights is another way to benefit from natural lighting. Skylights are a great way to add natural light to your home and reduce your need for artificial lighting.

Here are other devices that may be energy efficient:

Summary: Are Mini Split Ac Units Energy Efficient?

One of the factors that make mini-split HVAC systems more efficient than central air HVAC systems is the fact that the majority of them are ductless. The majority of systems also use inverter-driven variable-speed compressors, which enable precise modulation of the heat pump’s heating and cooling output.

Mini split systems can provide more targeted comfort. They are ideal for bringing comfort to a room addition or to a homeroom that your central air conditioner just can’t seem to maintain a comfortable temperature in. Alternatively, you can add a mini split indoor unit to each room of your house to create a zoned system.


Do Mini Splits Use a Lot of Power?

A ductless or mini-split air conditioning system uses about 500 to 700 watts of power per zone. They can have up to four zones. If all zones are set to cool, the system will use about 2,000 watts per hour.

Should You Run a Mini Split All Day?

Mini-split systems actually work best when they run continuously. Your mini-split will use less energy and maintain more consistent temperatures if you let it run continuously. As a result, it’s best to stay as far away from the temperature settings as possible.

Are Mini Splits Worth the Investment?

Mini-splits typically last 20 years. If you consider how much money you can save on electricity and maintenance you will see that going with a mini-split system can be a great decision. If you ever decide to sell your home, installing a mini-split system will raise its value as well.

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