A mini split, or ductless heating and cooling, uses about half the electricity as conventional electric heaters. And, it uses about 30 percent less electricity than room or window air conditioners. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Energy

Those savings are significant when you want the added comfort of a ductless system — but one drawback is that the price tag is prohibitive

Single-zone mini splits for one room start at over $3,000. And, it can cost up to $17,000 for a multi-zone setup that treats the entire house. 

Read More: What is the Cost of a Ductless Mini Split in Boise Metro and Valley County?

But, when you factor in much lower energy bills over time, plus available rebates, the cost is a lot lower (we’ll talk more about those later). 

But, how do mini splits use so little energy without sacrificing comfort? 

That’s our topic for this article. We’ll review the specifications you need to know — and what they mean, exactly. 

Then, you’ll learn about how they work and they the design is so effective. In all, we’ll cover:

  • Understanding HSPF And SEER

  • How A Heat Pump Works

  • Mini Split HSPF Ratings

  • Mini Split SEER Ratings 

  • Mini Split Vs. Ducted Heat Pumps

  • Mini Split Installation In Boise, ID 

Of course, this is all general information. Call or email us here at Snowake Air for a better idea of how a mini split will fit in your home — and budget — in the Treasure Valley.

Understanding HSPF And SEER

Let’s start with the terms you need to know. HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) tells you how much electricity a heat pump uses to heat your home. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) tells you the same for cooling.

All air conditioners have SEER ratings. So, it’s easy to compare a mini split’s performance to central air or a portable AC. 

HSPF, on the other hand, is only for heat pumps. It tells you the number of BTUs (British Thermal Units) you get per kilowatt-hour. 

By contrast, gas and electric heaters measure efficiency using Annual Fuel Usage Efficiency (AFUE) to measure the amount of energy the system loses to exhaust. 

How A Heat Pump Works

How A Ductless System WorksHeat pumps are more efficient than other heaters because they don’t burn fossil fuels to generate warmth. That’s what you’re doing with gas, oil, or even conventional electric furnaces: converting fuel into heat. 

Instead, a heat pump gathers whatever heat, or thermal energy, is available outside your home. Even in the dead of winter, there’s still some warmth out there. And Boise, ID and surrounding areas don’t get as cold as other parts of the country. 

Even that little bit of thermal energy is enough for the heat pump to amplify and send into your home. The only power it uses is a little bit of electricity to run the system. 

The process in the summer is similar to conventional AC. The heat pump then works in reverse: It pulls the heat from the house and sends it outside. At the same time, your indoor air handlers add dehumidification for more comfort.

Read More: How Does a Mini Split System Work?

Mini Split HSPF Ratings

Mini split heat pumps are often more efficient than heat pumps used in ducted systems or other configurations. We’ll get into why a little later. But for now, here are some comparisons for heating. 

As of 2006, the minimum HSPF rating allowed by law is 7.7. The highest right now 21.5. 

Units with ratings of 8.2 or higher are considered “high-efficiency” and have the Energy Star logo. 

Mitsubishi mini split heat pumps, however, have an HSPF rating of 13.5 or higher. That’s well over the minimum rating for high efficiency and above the average ducted heat pump model. 

Mini Split SEER Ratings 

On the cooling side, mini split heat pumps often carry a SEER rating of 18 or higher. By comparison, central air units usually come with either 14 or 16 SEER ratings. And, most window or room ACs are 13 to 16 SEER. 

That higher rating means you’ll use less electricity to get the same — or better — cooling from a mini split than from any conventional unit. 

If you plan to stay in your home for at least seven years, the savings over time on your energy bills cancels out the extra cost you paid upfront.

Meanwhile, you’re getting better year-round comfort the whole time.

Mini Split Vs. Ducted Heat Pumps

Ductless Vs Ducted Heating And AC

Mini split heat pumps have higher efficiency ratings than ducted models because they use Inverter technology, or variable speeds, to provide better comfort while using less energy. Instead of only running at full blast all the time, mini splits often use low-speed, low-power modes. They maintain the temperature consistently while using less electricity. 

We make the comparison to cruise control on your car. It’s like how you use less gas driving ten miles on the highway versus ten miles in the city. When you’re cruising at a steady speed, you use less gas than stopping and starting in traffic and at red lights or stop signs. 

The same is true for your HVAC system. Conventional one-speed systems can only turn on or off. So, they come on full blast, then stop when you get the temperature you want. After that, they use a lot of energy again to turn back on when the temperature drifts.

Read Mini Split Installation Case Studies In Your Area

Inverter Technology

With Inverter technology, the mini split heat pumps run almost all the time in a low-speed, low-power mode. This way, it provides just enough heat or cooling to maintain the temperature. It avoids that extra energy usage by not stopping and starting all the time. 

Air Handlers 

While the heat pump sits outside your home, inside, you’ll have an air handler in each room you’re treating. These indoor units also contribute to a mini split’s overall efficiency. 

Overall, they do a better job circulating the air than ductwork and vents. Each air handler has specialized fans and sensors. They locate hot and cold spots in a room and direct the treated air to the exact areas that need it. 

This way, the room reaches your desired temperature faster. Then, the system can go into low-power mode, using even less energy. 

Mini Split Installation In Cascade, ID and Boise Metro

Do you want to learn more about how ductless heating and cooling can increase your comfort while lowering your energy bills? Or, are you ready to schedule a mini split installation for your home in Cascade, ID, Boise, Meridian, or anywhere else in the Treasure Valley? 

No matter where you are in the process, we’re here to help! For your free consultation, click below or call Snowflake Air at (208) 205-9078.