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Can a Ductless Mini Split Work Well for Heating?


Ductless mini splits are amazing! This is a way for homes without ducts to have air conditioning that doesn’t require window units. It’s also great for homes with severely damaged ductwork. Rather than replace those ducts, you can eliminate them, and the system will be more efficient. Mini splits can also be used with heat pumps, a system that uses reversible refrigerant flow to cool homes in the summer and then also heat them when the weather gets cold!

How well do ductless mini splits work for heating homes? Are they an appropriate choice for our climate? Here’s some information.

How Heat Pumps Heat

When they’re cooling a home, heat pumps work just like air conditioners. The refrigerant runs through coils, absorbing heat from inside the home and releasing it outdoors. The innovative part of a heat pump is the reversing valve, which makes it possible to change the direction that the refrigerant flows. When switched to heating mode, the refrigerant absorbs heat outdoors and carries it into the home. Because it’s not generating heat, just moving it from one place to another, this is by far the most efficient way to warm a home. And it doesn’t have to be warm outside for it to work. It only has to be warmer than the refrigerant, because what it relies on is temperature differential. 

Heat Pumps in Cold Weather

During the spring and fall, heat pumps operate at peak efficiency, and can dramatically drop your heating bill from what you would otherwise pay to heat with a gas or electric furnace. Extremely cold weather does pose a challenge, though. When the temperature outdoors drops below forty degrees Fahrenheit, the efficiency of the heat pump begins to drop. At the coldest temperatures that a Chicago winter has to offer, the heat pump won’t be anywhere near as efficient as it would be in somewhat less-frozen temperatures.

Here’s the good news, though: heat pumps can be used with auxiliary heating systems, electric heating elements that provide a backup to the heat-transfer system of the heat pump. This way, you can benefit from the tremendous efficiency of the heat pump as much of the year as possible, and still have plentiful heat and good efficiency during the very coldest portion of the winter.

Why Ductless Matters

A ductless system will also add to the efficiency of your heat pump. Damaged or deteriorating ducts can lose a lot of heated or cooled air through cracks, holes, or tears. This air escapes into places like your attic that you don’t need to keep heated or air conditioned! Some estimates suggest that, due to how common duct damage is, on average, 20–30% of energy used for heating and cooling can go to waste. And even when ductwork is undamaged, the surface area of the ducts allows heat or coolness to be lost. 

If you’re considering ductless heat pump installation in Skokie, IL, we’d love to talk it over with you.

Contact ServiceMax to discuss your ductless mini split options.

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