The heating months bring higher energy bills for most homeowners across the country. If you're one who keeps an eye on the cost of heating your home, take a few moments to understand the environmental and performance factors that affect ductless heating, and how you can take simple steps to boost performance and enjoy wintertime energy saving all season long.
Driving Ductless Performance
The heating performance of your ductless system is dependent upon regular professional maintenance, simple do-it-yourself tasks and the rate at which your home loses heat (heating load). These factors impact performance because of the method the ductless system uses to heats your home.
Like conventional central heat pumps and A/C units,ductless systems use the principles of refrigeration to extract, move and release heat energy from one location to another. During the heating cycle, the refrigerant inside the condenser coil extracts heat energy from the air outdoors. The refrigerant is then cycled indoors where it evaporates and releases the heat, conditioning your air. The efficiency of this process can be affected by system neglect and/or environmental factors.
Ductless systems should be professionally checked and maintained at least once a year. Only your licensed Mitsubishi Electric Contractor has received specific factory training for servicing and installing high-performance Mitsubishi ductless systems. This is a summary of maintenance tasks:
- The outside unit is inspected for airflow restrictions, which may include snow and ice, debris, fencing and any other obstacle within 5 feet of the sides and top of the unit.
- The demand-defrost cycle is tested for efficient operation.
- The drainage is inspected.
- The indoor air quality components at each indoor air handler are visually inspected and cleaned if necessary.
- The evaporator coil is also visually inspected for mold and debris accumulation.
- Airflow at each indoor air handler is checked for proper circulation, noise range and oscillation features (when applicable).
- The thermostat functions are tested.
Light DIY maintenance tasks are necessary to ensure you receive maximum wintertime energy savings, and to help your ductless system perform at peak efficiency through the years.
- Check the air filters once a month. If your system employs a self-cleaning filtration system, check the filters at the beginning of each season.
- Keep an eye on the outside unit to make sure snow and ice do not accumulate and restrict airflow.
Reducing heat loss is another means of maximizing wintertime energy savings, as it also reduces the heating load placed on the ductless system. Winterizing your home involves sealing air leaks between the living spaces and the insulation barrier and the home’s shell, and boosting insulation where needed to inhibit heat transfer. These tasks may be quite detailed in scope, depending on the size of your home.
For maximum wintertime energy savings, it's advisable to have an energy audit performed by your Mitsubishi Electric Contractor. This allows you to:
- Pinpoint and seal air leaks
- Test heat-energy losses of the insulation inside walls, the attic and floor
- Repair or add insulation as needed.
Specialized equipment is used for the energy audit, including a blower door test to reveal air leaks, and an infrared scanning of the home’s shell to reveal insulation deficiencies. These are common problem areas:
- An unsealed attic hatch allows heat into the attic, which substantially increases the heating load placed on the ductless system. This can also lead to ice dams on the roof and subsequent damage. Foam weatherstripping makes a nice seal around the hatch. Foam-spray sealant may be used to fill gaps and holes around pipes, the flue and recessed lighting.
- Weatherstripping may be used to seal gaps around exterior doors. A draft blocker may be installed at the foot of the door(s).
- Windows are checked for gaps, which are common of older homes and improperly installed windows. Silicone caulk makes a nice sealant, which is resistant to corrosion and available in an assortment of colors.
- Attached garages should be inspected and sealed if necessary for greater wintertime energy savings and to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) leakage into the home. Better yet, consider heating your garage by adding another air handler to your ductless system.
Increasing the amount of insulation in your home is one of the most effective home-efficiency upgrades that drives system performance. Insulation upgrades are generally good for the life of the home. Your Mitsubishi Electric Contractor inspects the insulation in your home for sufficiency and quality, and replaces or adds insulation, which helps keep you warm and cozy with lower heating bills.
For more tips on how to drive wintertime energy savings and ductless performance, contact us to find a Mitsubishi Electric Contractor in your area.