At least this is how many heating systems my parents’ house has. From electric baseboard heat to ductless mini-splits, the house is like a museum to the history of home heating systems.
Before you go thinking my parents are some kind of crazy heating system hoarders, it helps to understand that their house has gone through several remodels and additions since it was built 40 years ago.
The 1972 A-frame was originally constructed with electric baseboard heat and a wood burning stove. This contemporary system for the time worked well for about 10 years. But, fast forward to the 80’s when the house was raised off its foundation and extended, electric baseboards were just too expensive to adequately heat the larger space. The solution was to install Electric Thermal Storage (ETS) units. These new units were similar to baseboard heat but were more energy efficient. The downside? The system took 12-24 hours – yes that’s right up to one full day- to charge and provide heat. You can imagine that "efficient" system sure made for some cold winter nights.
In the 90’s my parents added a gas log fireplace which looked fantastic. And it worked great too if you happened to be the one person standing directly in front of it – not so good for whole home heating.
The next decade my parents acquired a Rinnai heater, or a direct vent wall furnace, which at 80-90% efficiency was the most efficient system in the house. This new system was easy to install as it requires no duct work and vented directly outside. My parents thought they’d uncovered the home heating grail that is, until this summer when they discovered the Mitsubishi ductless mini-split.
Ductless mini-splits are the latest technology in efficient home heating. The system is composed of three main components: an outdoor unit, an indoor mounted evaporator unit, and a wireless remote controller. Similar to the Rinnai heater it was super efficient, easy install, quiet and required no ductwork. So why get yet another efficient heating system? The mini-split system not only provides heat but air conditioning as well. Big Bonus!
The cost of the new ductless mini-split system was $6800 for two units of which the New Hampshire Co-op gave a significant rebate of $2000. “The incentive made the system hard to pass up,” my dad said. “We were looking for air conditioning system only. The heating is a happy by-product. ”
From A-Frame to 3 stories and a 2 car garage the house is a lot to heat and cool but the mini-split units alone have kept the house at a comfortable temperature all summer and the few cold nights we have had so far. What’s best is that their monthly electric bill is lower than ever and not once have they had to resort to any of the other 5 systems picking up dust around the house.
Also excited about this new system, my mother took to the streets (while walking my dog – thanks mom!) and shared the news with every neighbor she saw. The result? Six other houses in the development installed mini-splits. The entire neighborhood is being transformed into a more efficient one. Look what word of mouth and utility incentives can do!
“So what’s next, solar heat,” you may ask. I’m not ruling anything out with my parents. One thing is sure, whatever the next most efficient heating system is, June and Frank will get it and rest assured all the other systems will live on serving another purpose, like a bookcase or plant holder.