What’s the best way to cool your home?
As the temperature climbs, you have plenty of options to stay cool - from a ductless heat pump to a ceiling fan and everything in between. Here we review the most important things to know about popular cooling systems in Portland and Central Oregon.
Which cooling system is right for you? You’ll find guidelines below, but if you’re serious about cooling your home, it’s best to give us a call: 866.827.5774. There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right system and perhaps not choosing a cooling system at all - Your best bet may be air sealing and insulation. A call is an easy way to ask questions and get started.
Short on time? Skip to the conclusion or check out the system that interests you most.
Popular cooling systems:
If you'd like to schedule an estimate, it's easy to schedule in Portland or schedule in Central Oregon. Each estimate includes an overview of costs, cash incentives, and available tax credits, Totally free.
Ductless heat pump
A ductless heat pump, also known as a ductless mini-split or mini-split heat pump, is the most efficient heating and cooling system on the market. It quietly and efficiently gives you control over the heating and cooling in a room or area of your home.
Why is this a good fit for Central Oregon? In Bend, we often find electrically heated homes with a kitchen and living room at one end and bedrooms at the other. By positioning a single-head ductless heat pump near the living room and kitchen, we’re able to meet about 80% of the home's heating and cooling load. The boost in efficiency makes this a slam dunk.
Heat pumps save up to 75% on heating and cooling bills relative to conventional systems, while delivering the same level of space conditioning (Source: Energy.gov).
Why do people go ductless in Portland? Portland homes often have a converted upper floor that never seems to cool down in the summer or heat up as well as the first floor in the winter. We've found that a ductless heat pump is by far the best way to efficiently heat and cool these upstairs living spaces.
When to consider a ductless heat pump. If you have an electrically heated home or an area of your home that never seems to heat or cool properly, a ductless heat pump offers a sleek and efficient solution. What's more, ductless systems are highly customizable, allowing for design flexibility to meet almost any heating and cooling situation. Learn more by visiting our ductless heat pump page.
Ducted mini-split heat pump
A ducted mini-split heat pump is similar to a ductless system in that it provides quiet, efficient heating and cooling for an area of your home - The main difference is that the system uses ducts to expand the area that you can heat and cool from one room to multiple rooms or an entire floor. This system has its own ducts that operate independently of any existing ductwork in the home.
overview of a ducted mini-split heat pump
When to consider an ducted mini-split heat pump. In Central Oregon, it's typically a good fit for clients with larger, electrically heated homes. In Portland, clients often go with an ducted mini-split heat pump when they have multiple rooms upstairs that are not heating and cooling properly. The system allows for a huge amount of design flexibility, either replacing an existing system or supplementing to deliver the heating and cooling you want.
Ducted heat pump (MVZ)
A ducted heat pump connects to the existing ducts in your home. It's similar to a central AC system but with the added benefit that you get heating in the winter months. What's more, heat pumps are highly efficient. When properly installed, a heat pump can deliver 1.5 to 3-times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes (Source: Energy.gov).
When to consider a ducted heat pump:
You want consistent cooling throughout your home.
Your ductwork is in good condition;
Your heating system is aging or highly inefficient.
An electric furnace and electric baseboard heater are 2 of the most inefficient, expensive ways to heat your home. Upgrading either of those systems to a heat pump will save a fair amount on your monthly heating bills. Gas furnaces cost less to operate than electric furnaces, but their designed lifespan is about 15 years. If your gas furnace is getting older, you should consider a ducted heat pump as an alternative to installing central AC, then waiting for your furnace to fail.
Central air conditioner
Central air conditioners are more efficient than room air conditioners. They’re out of the way, quiet, convenient to operate, and they provide even cooling throughout the home.
Lifespan and efficiency. The designed lifespan of a central AC system is 15-20 years. Today's best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.
Here's a tip. It’s important to make sure your ductwork is properly sealing and insulated. In a typical home, 20 to 30% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts (Source: ENERGYSTAR.gov).
When to consider a central AC:
You want consistent cooling throughout your home.
Your ductwork is in good condition. If you, for example, have a room or upstairs floor that never seems to heat or cool properly, you may be better off with a ductless heat pump.
Your furnace is new and efficient. If you have an older or inefficient heating system, you should consider a ducted heat pump as an alternative to a central AC system.
Window air conditioner
A window air conditioner cools a room rather than an entire home. If it provides cooling only where it's needed, a window AC can be less expensive to operate than central air conditioning, even though its efficiency is lower. One of the main disadvantages of window air conditioners is that they allow for a fair amount of air leakage – increasing leakage by as much as 10% around the installed unit.
A couple tips:
Look for an ENERGY STAR label.
Install rigid foam panes in between the window frame and unit and secure with duct tape instead of the accordion panels to reduce air leakage.
Don't place lamps or computers near the air conditioner's thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these devices, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than needed.
When to consider a window air conditioner. If you’re on a budget and only need cooling for one room, consider a window air conditioner. There are some clear disadvantages, but when money is tight and you need to cool a bedroom, a window unit is better than nothing.
Fans circulate air in a room, creating a wind chill effect that makes occupants more comfortable. Ceiling fans generally provide the best cooling relative to other types of fans (e.g. table and floor fans). When combined with an AC system, a ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort (Source: Energy.gov).
A couple tips for you:
Cool people - Turn off your fans when you leave the room – fans cool people, not rooms.
Warm people - Many ceiling fans come with a reverse switch. When the blades rotate clockwise, warm air that collects near the ceiling is redistributed throughout the room. You shouldn’t feel a breeze in the reverse mode, but you’ll be able to set your thermostat lower while maintaining the same level of comfort.
When to consider a ceiling fan. If you have an existing AC system or if you need only one room to be a littler cooler, you should consider a ceiling fan. It's important to make sure the room height is at least 8-feet.
So in conclusion...
Here's a overview of when clients typically choose to install the following systems:
Ductless heat pump: Efficient heating and cooling for 1-room or limited area (like upstairs master suite). Lots of design flexibility.
Ducted mini-split heat pump: Efficient heating and cooling for multiple rooms or an entire floor of a home, No existing ducts needed. Design flexibility.
Ducted heat pump: Efficient heating and cooling for an entire home. Uses existing ducts. Design flexibility.
Central air conditioner: Cooling an entire home. Uses existing ducts.
Window air conditioner: Cooling 1-room on a budget.
Ceiling fan: Supplementing existing AC or mild cooling for people in 1-room.
You'll want to think seriously about what kind of cooling you want, how you can get that cooling given the structure of your home, and of course, what you can afford. Please feel free to call with questions: 866.827.5774.