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Central, ducted air conditioning is a prime example of this kind of silent, sneaky, energy waster. It is something that is often un-noticed and taken for granted, as it chugs along and utilizes (in some cases, especially in older units) the highest percentage of the energy utility of our homes and offices. Meanwhile, there is waste associated with its very function. The goal is just that, to work constantly to maintain a comfortable environment while remaining virtually undetectable. But in the case of ducted, central air, how is this goal achieved? The central air unit must cool the cycled air at a central location, and then pump that air to various areas of the home or space. In order to do so, the air conditioning system must force the cooled air it creates down the duct ways, to each and every area where the conditioned air is needed. Well, this process of cool and warm air delivery takes a lot of energy! Literally! As a matter of fact,“duct loss” (or, the amount of energy consumed in the duct work as the air system pushes the cool air own the ducts) can account for as much as 30 percent of the total electrical energy consumed in the process of ducted air systems! That is a lot of wasted energy just to get the air where it needs to be. Some of that energy has already been spent to cool to the air, then it needs to get to the location of the building where it is wanted. This wasted energy is energy that is not being used for the primary purpose of the appliance, to cool air, dehumidify, and make you or your guests more comfortable. It is just loss, energy wasted in the process. It is simply the lost energy that comes with an "efficient system design." And the worst part, this is energy loss that cannot be avoided, even when your central ducted air conditioning system (vs. ductless air, or split air system) is working properly and at optimum efficiency. Why waste energy when you don't have to?
Mini split air conditioning is a greener option in that it doesn't just minimize this waste, it eliminates it completely. Only a small (3”) hole in the exterior wall separates the outdoor compressor/condenser which creates the cool air, from the interior air handler. The small conduit directs the conditioned air directly to the space where it is needed. So, no ducts, no duct loss. Zero. The distance from the source to the destination is shorter in a split air system, while also often quieter and less obtrusive. So, minisplit air conditioners and mini split heat pumps can put that 30 percent of usage back into your pocket, so to speak, and use it for what the appliance is designated to do. These ductless air units expend only the energy needed to create cool, dehumidified, refreshing air,and deliver it directly to the zone in which it is needed without the assistance of ductwork eliminating needless energy waste.
So, with ductless air conditioners and ductless heat pumps, we are conserving energy already, just by eliminating the need for ducts! Not to mention the maintenance required of a central system compared to a ductless unit. Although you should clean the indoor coils of your central system and ductless unit from time to time, the cost and hassle of maintaining a ductless mini split unit is much less than that of a central unit. With ductless mini split air conditioners or heat pumps you have a washable filter. No need to create more waste that pollutes our planet or throw away your hard earned cash on buying new filters for your central unit.