What happens when you’re somewhere in the middle with your HVAC system? On one side, everything’s working perfectly. Each room is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And, the temperature is even throughout the house.
At the other extreme, the HVAC system in your home is shot or just doesn’t cut it. The whole house is too cold in the winter, and you hear the furnace struggling to keep up. You know you need to just bite the bullet and overhaul the entire HVAC system before it breaks down completely.
But, sometimes it’s not that cut and dry. Maybe the heat is good enough most of the time, but not always. Or, there are just one or two spots that never warm up. In the case of a multi-family home, that gets even trickier. Not only do you have to heat more areas, but not everyone wants the same temperature.
Recently, we worked with a property owner in Malden, MA who was dealing with the middle ground for a while. He came to us for our expertise and experience with situations just like his. We were able to put the finishing touches on his ductless HVAC system.
Problem: One unit of a multi-family home was always too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.
Solution: Add a third zone to an existing Mitsubishi ductless HVAC system to supplement oil heat.
Adding a Heat Pump to an Existing HVAC System
Even before we began working with our property owner in Malden, MA, his multi-family home had a lot of heat going into it. This house used oil as its primary heat source. In general, oil gives you more heat than gas, electric or water heating systems. That’s because it has a very high flash point. It literally burns hotter than natural gas.
As a result, oil heat can heat the same space as natural gas in less time. And, it can maintain that temperature more easily. That’s especially important during cold New England winters. However, that comes at a price — literally.
Oil heat is more expensive than gas, electric, wood or ground heat. For a property owner, that’s a big consideration. Often, the tenants don’t pay utilities directly and those costs come out of the rent. So, the less the owner pays for heat, the more profit he has.
Next is the multi-unit aspect. There’s no guarantee the people in each unit prefer the same exact temperature and some will not get the same heat as others. If the thermostat is on the first floor, for instance, the heater will turn off when that area is at the right temperature. This could leave upper floors much colder.
Then, the opposite happens in the summertime: Not every unit will need the same amount of air conditioning. When hot air rises, heat gets trapped in the upper floors while the first-floor tenant is much cooler.
For these reasons, it was a better idea to supplement the existing HVAC system rather than install a new one. This home already had the firepower, so to speak, with oil heat. It just needed some fine-tuning for the people in every unit to feel comfortable. That’s what we provided.
Using Zoned Heating and Cooling for Multiple Units
The key to heating and cooling this multi-family home properly was zoned HVAC using Mitsubishi ductless units. Here’s how it works:
With zoned HVAC, the idea is not to set one temperature for the entire home. As we mentioned before, this can lead to uneven temperatures: hot upstairs in the summer and cold in the winter. Instead, you divide the home into zones and then heat or cool each individually.
This isn’t possible with traditional ducts and vents. With those systems, forced heat or cool air gets pushed from one furnace or condenser. There’s really no way to deliver different levels to different areas. At most, you can open or close a vent. But, that’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
Zoned heating, on the other hand, is much different. We use Mitsubishi ductless units to do the job. Each unit handles a different area, or zone, of a house. Usually, they’re separated by rooms.
What makes this work is that every unit has its own thermostat. Just set each unit to the same temperature. Then, every unit will work by itself to get to that temperature. Some will shut off before others if they get there first.
However, what makes them great for multi-unit homes is that you can also set each one differently. Now, one apartment can be set to, say, 68 degrees in the winter while the other can go up to 71 if that person gets cold easily.
Easy Ductless Installation Offers Flexibility
To offer that kind of flexibility though, ductless units must be really complex and tricky to install, right? Well, not at all. It’s actually much easier to get these up and running than trying to run multiple thermostats and separate ductwork.
Ductless units don’t require big, boxy ducts to transfer heated or cooled air. Then, the HVAC units themselves mount anywhere on a wall. The tubing runs from the unit to an outdoor condenser. It’s as simple as running an electrical wire to connect the two.
That’s a huge advantage over older systems. You can add ductless zones to a house little by little or all at once. Either way, you don’t have to worry about major, expensive construction to redo the ductwork.
This property owner had been adding on little by little. The latest unit we installed was in the dining room of one of the units. We placed it above the door, where you could hardly notice it.
Ductless Heat Pumps Offer Better Heating and Air Conditioning for Less
Now, our property owner is all set with multiple zones. He and his tenants can enjoy even temperatures and customized settings and he can enjoy lower energy bills.
In this case, adding more equipment equals less monthly payments. That’s because Mitsubishi ductless units are energy efficient. They use much less energy than traditional HVAC system to get the same results.
In this case, our property owner is supplementing oil heat. That’s an expensive, but very effective, heat source. Now, he can keep that setting low. Each family in his home can adjust their own zone accordingly. That extra heat comes through energy-efficient units. Therefore, it costs him less overall.
That amounts to even bigger savings in the summertime. Fewer things drive up your electric bill like an air conditioner and a bulky window unit is can be expensive. Fortunately, no one in his multi-family house needs one anymore. Instead, they’re using their zoned units to get them to the exact temperature they require — at a fraction of the price.
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!