Zone control heating, or air conditioning for that matter, is one of the most efficient ways to condition a home. The reason we say this is because with zoning, each room can have its own temperature, meaning each family member in your household can heat or cool their space to their specific preference.
If you’re purchasing a central furnace for the first time, then a great option is to have dampers installed in the ductwork upon its installation to achieve this zone control heating. But what if you already have a furnace in place? Can you still have zone controlled heating? Your ducts can be retrofitted, but it is a complicated process and is better performed during installation. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck! You may just want to consider a different type of heating system that can also serve as an air conditioner—the ductless system.
What Is a Ductless System?
Ductless heating and cooling systems, as the name implies, don’t use ductwork to circulate air. Rather, they make use of individual air handlers installed in various rooms throughout your home. Each air handler is tasked with conditioning only the room in which it is installed. Up to four indoor air handlers can be connected to one outdoor unit.
Each air handler has its own thermostat, enabling it to operate independently from the rest of the system, giving you that zone controlled heating you desire. Similar to heat pumps, ductless systems are capable of operating as not only a heater, as we mentioned above, but also an air conditioner.
There is a bit more of an investment with a ductless system installation. Small holes will have to be drilled in your walls to connect the air handlers to the outdoor unit, making this installation a bit more complex than say, a furnace. But what you will save in monthly costs will more than make up for this initial cost.
What Are the Benefits?
There are a number of advantages to using a ductless system to warm and cool your home compared to another system type, including:
- Improved Energy Efficiency: Ductless units are more energy efficient than their central counterparts. For instance, you don’t have to worry about ductwork damage and subsequent air leaks. It might surprise you to find out you could be losing as much as 30% of the conditioned air you’re paying for anyway through duct leaks.
- Better Versatility: Have you ever had family members battling over a single thermostat due to different heating and cooling preferences? With a ductless system installed, you won’t have to worry about this. Ductless system air handlers each have their own thermostat, enabling you to set the ideal temperature for the room you’re in, without bothering anyone else in the home. This is also advantageous if you happen to cook a lot—in the winter time you may not need as much additional heat in your kitchen and therefore can set that particular thermostat below the others in the home.