Heat Pumps & Mini-Splits

Old House Journal - - Ohj -

An­other com­mon whole-house sys­tem for mod­er­ate and warm cli­mates is the air-source elec­tric heat pump. Pri­mar­ily driven by the need for air con­di­tion­ing, a heat pump uses a re­frig­er­ant to cool the house dur­ing warm weather. When it’s cold out, the pump can re­verse the cy­cle to heat the house. Sur­pris­ingly, heat pumps can be more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than other types of elec­tric heat, in­clud­ing gas fur­naces.

A more re­cent type of heat pump, called a duct­less or “mini-split,” is an ideal retro­fit op­tion for homes with no ex­ist­ing duct sys­tem. Mul­ti­ple wall-mounted in­door units can be in­stalled in in­di­vid­ual rooms, all con­nected to a sin­gle out­door unit. Like any heat pump, this type can pro­vide both heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing, but with­out the ex­pense and de­struc­tion of in­stalling a duct sys­tem. Many if not all duct­less sys­tems are En­ergy Star cer­ti­fied and can cut heat­ing and cool­ing costs by up to 30 per­cent.

Geother­mal sys­tems (see Know-How, p. 60) pow­ered by heat pumps are even more ef­fi­cient, be­cause they ab­sorb heat from ei­ther the ground or from wa­ter pumped from be­low ground.

LEFT In a mini-split sys­tem like this one from Rheem, the heat pump (at back) is in­stalled out­doors, pow­er­ing one or more of the in­door units (at front).

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