Temperatures are cooling with the arrival of fall, and soon enough winter will be here. If you’re in the market for a new heating system, now is the time to buy. You still have several weeks of comparatively warm weather to plan and execute a new installation, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of the new system all winter. Most of us are accustomed to either boilers or forced-air furnaces in our homes, both of which work quite well. But if your home can’t support such systems, or if you’re looking for a way to lower the costs of heating without skimping on quality, there’s another option. Multi-zone heating systems, or ductless mini-split systems, are well worth exploring.

How They Work
Ductless systems work by doing without the complex series of ducts that forced-air furnaces (and centralized air conditioners) use to move their conditioned air through the home. That relies on a single unit to generate the hot or cool air. Ductless units take a different approach: placing multiple smaller units throughout your home instead of one big one. Each unit is charged with heating or cooling a single room or section, and each can be controlled individually, or even turned off without affecting the rest of the system.That can cost more to install since you’re setting up multiple units instead of just one. But it provides a number of benefits that you should evaluate carefully when going over your options.

The Benefits
Benefits to multi-zone systems can include the following:

    No Ducts. For homes built before the advent of air conditioning or otherwise not able to accommodate ductless, ductless systems provide comprehensive HVAC coverage for the whole home.

    Precise Control. Say you’re cooking dinner in the kitchen and want the heat turned down because the stove is on. Another family member is working in the study and doesn’t want to freeze to death. Ductless systems allow you both to have what you want: providing comfortable temperatures tailored to suit each family member individually. (In many cases, master control systems allow you to adjust the temperature in a single location, regardless of the settings of each individual unit.)

    Savings. Perhaps most importantly, ductless systems allow you to turn off (or at least lower) the heat in parts of the home you aren’t using while still running it in parts you are. For instance, bedrooms rarely see much activity during the day, but with centralized systems, you have to pay for that heat anyway. Ductless heating systems allow you to lower the cost of heating the home by only running the system in parts that you’re using. That can cut down on monthly bills considerably–an especial concern for big homes with a lot of square footage–as well as reducing wear and tear on individual units. Over time, this allows you to get more out of your system and extend its lifespan as well.

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