One of the more common questions people ask about installing ductless central air conditioning in their home is how quickly they will recoup the cost. While for some ductless is an important means to an end – central air conditioning for the hot months – others look to ductless for long-term savings because it is so effective and efficient. If you are currently using a high-efficiency system of some sort to heat your home, do not use window boxes for air conditioning, and are merely looking to add central air, then you may not see much savings over previous summers. In fact, you need to be aware that you will be using some energy in the summer when previously you did not.
But for those either installing ductless to replace a less efficient home energy system, or who are replacing a bunch of window box air conditioners with a ductless system, we wanted to provide some information about the efficiency and cost savings possible with ductless central air. We start with installation. The cost of a fully installed ductless heating and cooling system with a single zone is between $3-5,000 depending on where you live, how powerful you need the system to be, the difficulty of the install, and how far from the unit the lines must be run.
The savings provided by a ductless heating and cooling system depends on what type of system you are using now. A common reason to turn to ductless is the use of a whole home electric system, and in that case ductless is thought to save 3-4000 kWh each year. At current rates that represents about a $250-300 savings. If you are installing ductless even though you have duct work but because your oil or gas-fired system is outdated or inefficient, the savings will be more modest and are hard to predict given changes in oil, gas, and electric prices relative to each other. Even more savings than the above will be found by those homeowners who are merely using ductless for cooling if they have instead been using window boxes that are often on and scattered throughout the house.