What Is HVAC Efficiency, And Why Does It Matter?

Your heating and cooling system is an essential element to keep your home comfortable, but it is also one of your home’s most expensive, energy-utilizing appliances. An energy-efficient system will use less electricity and fuel to produce the same amount of warm and conditioned air. Choosing an energy-efficient HVAC system, such as a ductless mini-split, will lower the strain on your wallet and the environment. Here is everything you need to know about HVAC efficiency, and why it matters for your home. 

Energy Efficiency of a Mini-Split Systems

The ductless heat pump is the most eco-friendly heating and cooling option for homeowners and business owners in the Pacific Northwest. Most importantly, a mini-split is highly energy efficient, is powered by electricity, and uses a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant. In addition, rather than relying on ductwork to facilitate air movement (a common place for leaks), a mini-split system has an outdoor compressor and a single ductless indoor unit designated for each zone. The system can heat and cool anywhere from one room to an entire house.  

What is the SEER?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is most commonly used to measure the efficiency of a heating and cooling system. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system. SEER measures how efficiently a cooling system will operate over an entire season. In technical terms, SEER measures the total cooling of a central air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the regular cooling season compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period. This efficiency measure is specific to the temperate climate in the middle of the U.S. 

Mini-Splits’ SEER

A ductless mini-split is an efficient, eco-friendly heating and cooling system that allows homeowners and business owners to control the temperature of an individual room or space. When heating a room, the outdoor heat pump absorbs heat energy from the outdoor air and sends it to the ductless indoor unit via the refrigerant line. As the heat energy travels through the tube, the refrigerant is compressed, which increases its temperature by quite a bit by the time it reaches the indoor coil. Within the indoor unit, the fan blows air over the newly heated coil and delivers the warmed air into the room. 

When cooling a room, the process is reversed. Because of this process and the use of inverter technology, mini-splits are extremely efficient compared to central HVAC systems. On average, ductless mini-splits have SEER ratings around 16-22+. And, on average, Central HVAC units have SEER ratings around 14-21.

What is the EER?

When considering cooling system energy efficiency, find its EER rating (its Energy Efficiency Ratio). This rating measures how efficiently a system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at 95 degrees F. The higher the EER, the more efficient the system is. On average, ductless ACs have EER ratings around 16+. And, on average, Central HVAC units have EER ratings around 12+.

How Is a Mini-Split so Efficient?

Ductless heat pumps are a simple, sensible solution. Ductless systems keep the temperature consistent in your home using inverter technology. This allows them to avoid inconsistent temperature variations with conventional heating systems. They use varying-speed compressors to deliver only the optimum amount of refrigerant. Unlike other heating systems that turn on and run at full blast, ductless systems run at the optimum speed for comfort and efficiency. 

Today, 90% of homes in Japan, most homes throughout Europe, and many homes in other countries around the globe use this technology. But even with the increased savings, the most significant benefit our customers mention is improved comfort.

Keeping a Current System Efficient

1. Clean the central indoor unit (or units) and remote control.

Wipe each clean using a soft, dry cloth. For more stubborn dirt, moisten a cloth in warm water, wring it out thoroughly, and wipe gently. The air intake grille can be removed to wash it with water. Clean the grille using a soft sponge or rag and wipe away any remaining moisture. There’s no specific schedule for this step. You may prefer to do it as part of your regular house cleaning, filter cleaning, or even when you just notice some dust.

2. Clean the filters on each indoor unit.

This should be done once a month with a vacuum cleaner for light dust or gentle washing for stickier debris. Just wash the filter in lukewarm water, rinse it in clean water, and pat or let it air dry. If there are a lot of buildups, some soaking could be necessary.

3. Keep the outdoor condenser clear.

Remove any fallen leaves or other debris that could block the internal components. Use a leaf blower in a gentle setting or simply brush debris away with your hand or a broom.

4. Have a ductless professional deep clean and inspect your system once every two years. 

While ductless systems are known for their reliability, a simple program of regular cleaning and maintenance can keep them running at peak performance for years to come. 

Install an Efficient Ductless System From Alpine Ductless

If you’re ready to install a ductless system in your home, work with us at Alpine Ductless. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation, during which we’ll work with you to understand your heating and cooling needs. We’ll also help you determine which ductless heat system is right for you. Keep in mind that the efficiency of a system will be a factor in available tax credits. Be sure to ask us about the Inflation Reduction Act and efficiency requirements for the potential tax credit! Contact us today to get started.

Want to learn more about ductless systems in the Pacific Northwest? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump Installations in Washington.

Alpine Ductless is a certified Master Installer with Comfort Ready Home. We proudly serve the Thurston, Pierce, Mason, Lewis and South King county areas. Our goal is to help you determine the best system for heating and cooling your home.

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