In the past, if a homeowner wanted to install a whole-house heating or cooling system, there were only ducted central air conditioning and furnace systems available. Today, there are more choices for consumers, including ducted and ductless heat pumps. We get calls at HB Home Service Team asking us about the different options for whole-home heating and cooling here in Central Maryland. Our neighbors also want to know what will make the most sense for their homes and their budget.
Types of Ducted Systems
Many people have central air conditioners and furnace systems. These systems can utilize the same ductwork. Central air conditioning systems and furnaces are more efficient than in the past. Today, most of the central air conditioning units for sale have a seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 15 or over. This is in contrast to the older units that were only required to have a SEER rating of 9 or 10.
Furnace and boiler technology has improved as well. New furnaces and boilers offer better control of combustion gases, electronic ignition, and a more compact design. They are also much more efficient than older models. In the past, the efficiency range of furnaces and boilers using oil or gas was between 56% and 70%. Today, modern heating systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 98.5%. This means that replacing your furnace if it is nearing the end of its service life will save you on your gas or oil bill. You will also likely enjoy improved heating throughout your home.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are another type of heating and air system that often uses ductwork. Their advantage over central air conditioning and furnaces is that they are only one unit to service and maintain. They provide ducted heating and cooling year-round using electricity. They create conditioned air using a heat exchange system with refrigerant. The system reverses its functioning when you need to switch from heating to cooling. They must meet the same energy-efficiency ratings as the other types of air conditioning and heating systems. Heat pumps tend to last about 20 years.
Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
We also install geothermal heat pump systems. These heating and cooling systems are extremely energy efficient because they rely upon keeping things temperate through the Earth itself. The underground temperature is around 55 degrees year-round. By using lines in the ground filled with a coolant, you can keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter much more economically. They are the greenest and most energy-efficient form of comfort system available. The indoor units tend to last about 25 years, and the lines filled with refrigerant tend to last for around 50 years.
Many people have heard of “ductless” or mini-split air conditioning and heating units but may not know how they work. Mini-split systems do not force the conditioned air through your home via ductwork. Instead, there are only a few lines that go between an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units, which are known as air handlers. There is a line for the electricity between the units, the condensate line, and a line for the refrigerant. Like a heat pump, the refrigerant in a mini-split system moves between the outdoor and indoor units using a heat exchange process. There is only a small diameter hole, 3 inches, that needs to be drilled in walls, floors, and ceilings to snake the lines between the outdoor and indoor units.
Mini-split systems can provide your home with heat in winter and cool air in the summer. Mini-split systems only have to pump refrigerant and condensate instead of forced air, making them highly energy efficient. Mini-split systems typically last about 15 to 20 years.
Pros and Cons of Ducted Systems
You really need heating and cooling systems to get through the Central Maryland year comfortably. If you already have ductwork, there is often little reason to change to another system. The only advantage of switching systems is that you will save money on energy bills to recoup the investment. The main con with a packaged furnace and AC system is that there are two units to maintain. In older homes, you may also be dealing with ductwork that is damaged, noisy, and inefficient. And regardless of the age of your ducts, you will have to have them cleaned every few years.
It might make sense to add a ducted heat pump in place of your central air and furnace system when one of the latter is going out. In that case, you will only end up with one unit to service in the future, and you can use your existing ductwork. You will still have a system that can heat and cool a home with a larger floor plan. One negative for some about heat pumps is that the heat is not as warm as a furnace produces. Also, electricity is often a more expensive way to heat in the winter than gas. In many regions, the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity is high, so you may end up spending more on your energy bills than you expected.
With either a heat pump system or central air and furnace, you can still zone your conditioned air. Ducts can be zoned using dampers between portions of the ductwork. Just like ductless systems, we will install a thermostat that will automatically control the temperature in each zone you have created. We can discuss the benefits of zoned systems with you and provide you with an estimate.
Pros and Cons of Ductless Systems
Ductless air conditioning is incredibly energy efficient when properly sized. You can add to its energy efficiency by turning down cooling or heating in rooms that you are not using. Because each air handler can be controlled independently, achieving zoned heating and cooling is very easy with a ductless mini-split system. Ductless systems are also much easier to install in any home than ducted systems. Their lines take up less indoor space and are cheaper to install.
Ductless comfort systems are best suited for homes with smaller floor plans or smaller rooms. The indoor units cannot put out enough conditioned air to properly cool or warm larger rooms or open floor plans. Adding more than one indoor unit to a larger room is not as energy efficient and is not advised.
Experienced Heating and Cooling Installations in Central Maryland
At HB Home Service Team, we have provided decades of service to Randallstown and surrounding Central Maryland communities. We are your local heating and air conditioning service company. We provide repairs, installations, and maintenance for all types of heating and cooling systems. If you are in need of an emergency repair, we offer 24/7 service. We are also your local plumbing provider, and you can turn to us for well pump and indoor air quality services.
Call us today at HB Home Service Team for more information on ducted and ductless heating and cooling system installations in Central Maryland.