To be clear, I am referring to something that looks like this (often referred to as a mini split in my neck of the woods):
Sorry for the low tech home-made pic, but it’s how I roll
We recently purchased one of these units for our home. Let me begin by saying that I was not in favor of buying one of these units for two main reasons:
- I did not believe the savings were enough to off set the cost of the unit. I had heard rumors of savings of about 25% off your heating cost (no small feat here in Eastern Canada). In relation to this, most people talking of these savings were not frugal people; these people who had the heat cranked up to 24 C in the dead of winter. Since we usually set our heat to 19-20 C in the winter, our savings would not be as high, right?
- Baseboard heaters, these were previously our main source of heating, and I kind of love these things, even though they are a bit on the inefficient side. Why do I love them? ZERO MAINTENANCE. As a homeowner, I find I’m quickly tiring of all the things that need maintenance, which is just about everything inside your house, and everything outside your house. Enough maintenance already! Also baseboard heaters are extremely dependable. When is the last time you heard anyone say: “My baseboard heater died!” or “My baseboard heater needs to be fixed again!” Never, right? There is maintenance involved with owing a mini split you need to clean the filters every two or three months, and you may also need to clear snow from around the outdoor part of the unit.
So what were the results? Let me tell you, the results were SHOCKING!
We have had our unit for about a year, so we have a full winter and a full summer under our belts for statistical purposes. Let me provide some figures and/or pretty graphs:
All I can say is that I am actually pretty impressed. Before we get into the figures I should clarify that the mini split does about 80% of our heating. The remaining 20% would be mostly from when we turn on the heat in the basement, which is rare, and from when the heat kicks on in our child’s room during the night, since his door is mostly closed. I should also add that 100% of our power bill is electric, no gas etc. The mini split we bought is efficient all the way down to -25C, temperatures that may occur a few nights each winter here.
We bought our unit in Oct 2017. So all the light gray (2016) and the dark blue from Jan – Sept 2017 represents when we used baseboard heaters as our main and only heating source. Once again I would like to point out in the winter time that we kept the temperature in the main living area of our home at about 19.5 C during the evenings, dropped the temperature to 15C during the night and 16C during the day while we were at work. So it’s not like we were blasting away with the heat. Now we keep the heat at 19C day and night, and usually turn off the machine during the day or turn the machine down to 18C while we are away at work during the day. Let’s look more closely at some specific numbers:
Jan 2017 and Jan 2019 and Feb 2018 and Feb 2017- A 1000 KW difference for each of these months! That’s pretty insane! This is over $100 dollars in savings, actually about $125 once you include the sales tax. For reference we pay 10.91 cents/kWh for our power.
April 2017 and April 2018 – Even in what I would consider a spring month, April, we saved over 500 kWh so over another $50 savings, pretty nice!
Mini splits also provide a cooling feature, not quite air conditioning, but pretty darn close if you ask me. If you look at July and August, there is a slight increase in July, but August is basically the same, this is interesting because around here, last summer, the weather was very hot and muggy, and we ran the mini split nearly everyday, getting the temperature in our house down to about 20C but more importantly reducing the humidity to a comfortable level. Previous to the mini split, we used a single window unit air conditioner in one bedroom only, and we only used it on the hottest days. So looking at that char again, the power consumption was very close for using the mini split nearly everyday for hours at a time vs running the air conditioner for only a few hours for a few days per month.
Now on top of these savings I want to point out the fact that our house is much, much, much more comfortable. So we are paying significantly less money to have a more comfortable home, I find it a bit mind-boggling. For example before, if you got up to use the washroom in the middle of the night before , you would freeze, now it’s not that bad.
I’ve also noticed a few other handy things about the mini split:
-it is great at drying out wet mittens, boots and snow pants if you put them in the line of the heat.
-no more worries about young children getting burned by touching a blazing hot baseboard heater. Our son is a bit too old to worry about this now, but if you have a baby around, it is nice to not worry about this. Related to this, no need to check the baseboard heaters each day for toys and other items that may have found their way in there due to the little one.
I would also like to note that while there is some noise with these units, it hasn’t been a concern for us, we don’t need to raise our voices to speak to one another or crank up the TV if the unit is on, even at full power.
While I definitely have mostly positive things to say here are a few annoyances I have with the unit so far:
-it will go into a defrost mode, when it does this, it will blow cold air for a short period while it undergoes the defrost cycle.
-I personally do not enjoy sitting at the table eating while the unit is blowing hot air on me, this is mostly me, I don’t think my wife minds as much. I solved this issue by sitting at a different spot at our table, not a huge issue, just an annoyance like I said.
Back to the financials, so what did this thing cost anyway? Sure it saves heating money, makes the house more comfortable, but there is an up front cost in order to save that money, right? Right. We paid $3,500 for our unit including installation, you can definitely pay more or less than that, depending on brand name and the size of the unit. Doing some quick back of the napkin math, if I can save $100 per month from Dec-March each winter, so 4 months (ignoring the savings on the spring and fall months), that would be $400, so after about 9 years I would have saved $3,600 (400 x 9) basically paying for the machine. I also like the environmental factor, I’m using less power/energy, so I’m polluting less.
Is a mini split for you? Well only you can decide that. I can only tell you what I found for my situation. I would like to add that these things seems to be made for more of an open concept area, so you probably want to take your living area design into consideration. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone may have.
Also, this article was not sponsored or paid for by anyone, these were my findings.
If you liked the post, or found this the slightest bit informative, please leave a like or a comment!
The Fake Cheap out!!