Do Ductless AC Units Save You Money?

Ductless AC units save you money by using less energy to heat and cool your home when compared to conventional forced-air systems, baseboard heat, or window and portable ACs. Even though they seem to run almost all the time, they actually use less power, resulting in lower utility bills each month.


As a product manager for the HVAC distributor Peirce Phelps for more than a decade, I’ve seen how these improvements have made these systems more popular than ever in the mid-Atlantic region.

And, thanks to working with dozens of HVAC contractors who’ve installed thousands of these systems, I put this article together based on the most common questions and concerns homeowners have.

First, I’ll discuss how ductless mini-splits work, including the difference between ducted and ductless heat pump systems and the role of refrigerant in these systems.

Then. I’ll get into ways a ductless mini-split system can help you save money. I’ll go through a few more benefits of these systems, and then answer a few frequently-asked questions.

If you’re considering a ductless system for your home, you can set up a free consultation with an HVAC installer with an excellent reputation for working in your area.


How Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump Systems Work

Ductless mini split systems consist of an outdoor unit, or heat pump, and one or more indoor units. These units are connected by a refrigerant line that transports heat energy between them.

The heat pump is responsible for drawing in heat from the outside air in the winter, or removing it from the house in the summer.

Unlike forced-air systems, a mini split only moves heat, not air. The air handler, or indoor unit, heats or cools the room where it’s installed. Then, it recirculates that air throughout the room.

Ducted Vs. Ductless Heat Pump Systems

A heat pump can also be installed in a ducted configuration. In that set up, there’s only one air handler in the house, and it’s hooked up to the home’s ductwork.

The heat moves from the heat pump to the air handler, which is a big unit that looks like a furnace. The air handler draws in air from throughout the house, heats or cools it, then pushes it back out.

By contrast, ductless heat pumps deliver conditioned air directly into individual rooms, eliminating the need for ductwork.

How Do Ductless Mini-Splits Save Money?

You’ll see monthly savings with a ductless mini split system thanks to their excellent energy efficiency. Since they use less power for heating and cooling than a furnace, central air, baseboard heater or window AC, you pay for less electricity each month.

Here’s how they do it:

Heat Transfer Vs. Combustion

Ductless mini-split systems use heat transfer to move heat from one place to another rather than generate that warmth. The transfer requires a small amount of electricity to run the motorized parts on the indoor and outdoor units.

By contrast, traditional heating systems use combustion – burning fossil fuels to generate heat – which is expensive and inefficient. Even electric heat uses the power to generate heat.

Inverter Technology

Inverter technology allows ductless heat pumps to adjust their speed and output to match the needs of your home. They can provide as much or as little heating or cooling as necessary in the moment. This means that they use less energy when you only need a little bit of heating or cooling, resulting in lower energy bills.

Traditional one-stage heating and cooling systems operate at a fixed speed and always use the same amount of energy. That’s why they cycle on and off a few times every hour: They can only be at full power or completely off.

But, it takes more power to start the system than to keep it running. And, the stopping and starting causes extra wear and tear. By running almost all the time, but often in low-power mode, a ductless mini split lasts longer and uses less electricity.

Zoned Heating And Cooling

Ductless mini-splits allow you to create different zones in your home and adjust the temperature in each zone independently. With zone-based heating and cooling, you can heat or cool only the rooms that you are using, rather than wasting energy on empty rooms.

With traditional HVAC, you have to heat or cool the entire house, even if you only need to adjust the temperature in one room. By dividing your home into different zones, you can adjust each zone to your personal comfort level while reducing your energy costs.

The Pros of Ductless Air Conditioning

Along with saving you money, here are some more benefits you get with ductless air conditioning and heating over traditional ducted systems:

Easy Installation

Since mini splits don’t require ductwork, they can be installed in homes where retrofitting ducts would be impractical or expensive. This makes them a great option for older homes or homes with unique layouts.

The installation process is typically quicker and less invasive than traditional HVAC systems, which means less disruption for homeowners.

With that in mind, you’ll see these systems for sale online for much less than a professional mini split installation would cost to have a pro install them. While you might save money in the short term, there are many risks to trying to install a mini split yourself.

Whisper-Quiet Operation

Ductless air conditioning systems are also known for their quiet operation. Because the units don’t rely on pushing air throughout the house, the system doesn’t generate nearly as much noise as forced-air setups.

Lower Carbon Footprint

Ductless air conditioning systems produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional HVAC because they don’t rely on combustion for heating.

You can reduce their environmental impact, and your carbon footprint, even further by powering them with solar panels. It’s possible because they don’t require too much electricity.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Here are the answers to a few more common questions about ductless ACs and energy savings:

Are Ductless Air Conditioners Energy Efficient?

Studies show that ductless air conditioners are extremely high efficiency, saving 30-40 percent off the energy costs of a forced air system and conventional room air conditioners like window units and portable ACs. They also keep temperatures more consistent by running continuously in low-power mode.

Do Ductless AC Units Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Ductless AC units use less energy than traditional forced-air HVAC systems to keep your home comfortable. Doing so requires a heat pump strong enough to provide enough warmth all winter versus one made primarily for cooling. They save energy by using running in low-speed mode instead of cycling on and off.

Should I Leave My Ductless AC On All The Time?

Running a mini split heat pump 24/7 uses less energy than turning it on and off. It adjusts speed and power usage based on how much heating or cooling is required at the moment. This maintains consistent temperature while rarely running at full capacity.

If you have more questions, you can schedule a free consultation with a certified HVAC installer in your area. Use the dealer locator button to find a trusted company close to you. We’ll help you find a certified ductless air conditioner installer In Cherry Hill, NJ or anywhere in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or Maryland.