There are many things to love about a spacious split-level home in a small New England town: A picturesque plot of land at the edge of a wooded area. A big house with plenty of room to move around. The one drawback? Paying to keep it warm in the winter.
Problem: A homeowner in Boxford, MA was paying too much money for electric heat.
Solution: Installed a Mitsubishi ductless HVAC system with two outdoor heat pumps and seven ductless units.
HVAC in a split-level home
Our family had the kind of home that’s especially challenging to heat. It’s a large split-level home. One part of the house is two floors while the other is just one floor like a ranch. Underneath all that is a basement.
Since hot air naturally rises, it’s difficult to heat a home like this evenly. A stack effect occurs, where heat is drawn to the second floor of the house. However, here the second floor doesn’t span the whole house.
This results in heat moving toward one level of the house as it rises. The single-level portion ends up colder than the other half of the home. It’s common, then, to have uneven heat in these kinds of homes.
Adding to that is the fact that the home is isolated. When there are other houses there’s more heat overall being generated in the area. And, more structures block the elements, reducing wind chill.
Over the years, people have come up with a few ways to keep a home like this heated properly. Normally, for instance, a furnace turns on only when the temperature drops below a certain level. In this case, some people will leave it running on a low setting all the time.
This constantly produces heat, which moves through the whole house. But, running a furnace constantly drives up energy bills. And, the constant hum of a heater can get annoying after a while.
Another solution takes some construction. Some homeowners put doors at the tops and bottoms of stairs. This way, they can trap heat in certain areas by keeping them closed.
This usually works pretty well. But, it takes some tinkering to know which doors to keep open and which to close. Plus, not everyone likes the look of closed-off areas everywhere.
Fortunately for our Boxford, MA homeowners, there was a solution that didn’t require renovating the house or paying extra for heat.
Mitsubishi Ductless Heating
Ductless units are perfect for split-level homes. They can heat any home evenly. And, they do it for less money and less work than older HVAC systems.
The ductless units are thin, rectangular pieces that mount easily on any wall. Unlike old system, they don’t use forced heat from a furnace, or cool air from an a/c condenser, coming in through big bulky vents.
Instead, each one receives hot or cold air from small, flexible plastic tubes. The tubes are less than an inch wide and connect to an outdoor or indoor unit. To install them, a tech just drills a tiny hole behind the unit where no one can see it.
Since they don’t require ducts and vents, they can be placed anywhere. And, each unit works independently. This allows them to use a “zoned” approach for even heating.
With zoned heating, each unit turns on and off as needed. Let’s say you set the whole house to 66 degrees. A unit a part in a cold part of the house runs until it reaches that temperature. But, a unit where it stays warm will turn off sooner, when that area reached 66 degrees.
Zoned heating can also let you heat or cool areas of your house differently. Each unit can be programmed to different temps. Or, you can leave some off completely.
This is great if you have a room or two you rarely use. Why spend money heating it as much as others? Set it to a lower temp, and then raise it when you’re going to be in it.
Ductless Units in a Split-Level Home
Our homeowners in Boxford, MA wanted the full ductless HVAC experience. That meant heating their entire home with ductless units. And, creating many zones in the home so they could adjust each area differently.
For a home this big, we started with two outdoor units. They’re Energy Star certified. This means they meet government standards for efficiency.
These two heating units are enough to power seven HVAC units throughout the home. The master bedroom and the rooms for their son and daughter each got their own unit. Then, more units went in the kitchen, family room, spare room and home office.
Right away, our homeowners started saving money on their monthly heating bills. They left the units in the spare room and office very low or completely off most of the time. The rest of the house stayed nice and warm, however.
Actually, thought, the savings started before they even turned on their new system. Since ductless HVAC units are energy-efficient, they qualify for rebates and incentives from energy companies.
We looked into those rebates while planning the zoned heating system. It turned out our homeowners could apply for two programs. As a result, they got nearly $3,000 in rebates when the units were ready.
The bulk of that came through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The homeowners got $2,343 for installing a clean energy system. We also advised them to apply for a rebate from Mass Save. That’s a group of local utility companies that provide cash incentives for people to install energy-efficient HVAC systems. That group contributes a $500 rebate.
Now, no matter how cold those New England winters get, this Boxford, MA family can stay as warm — or as cool — as they want. And, they’ll pay less money each month than before to do so.
Do you want a better and more cost-effective and efficient option for heating and cooling your home? Contact us and we’ll design the perfect Mitsubishi ductless HVAC solution for you!