What Every Homeowner Should Know

6 Critical Steps To Ductless Mini-Split Excellence

The outdoor unit of a heat pump, on the side of a house, next to a beautiful lawn during sunset
1. Clarifying the goals
We start by asking customers about their goals. Are they looking to replace an aging system, reduce energy costs, or eliminate fossil fuels? Do they want mini-splits to meet their home's full heating needs, or would they prefer to keep another system as backup? Is their focus on adding high-quality cooling for the summer months? Are there any particularly uncomfortable rooms they’d like to see improved?
Understanding the customer’s goals helps us recommend the right mini-split system for them.
2. Properly measuring and assessing the space
House dimensions and layout. How big are the different spaces in the house, and how are they arranged? This helps us figure out the best locations for indoor and outdoor units and to map out the piping and wiring to connect them.

Construction age and style.
Together with dimensions, this information allows us to calculate how much heating and cooling the house needs to stay comfortable. Rather than basing equipment recommendations on informal rules of thumb, we perform detailed calculations that take into account windows, insulation levels, and air leakage.

Electric panel capacity. We’ll also take a close look at the electric panel to make sure it has enough capacity for the equipment we propose.
3. Selecting the right equipment
With the detailed information gathered on the house and the space, we can design a mini-split system that matches the customer’s goals and the home's needs. The goal is a "Goldilocks" system—one that's neither too big nor too small. The “just right” system will have enough capacity to keep the house comfortable in extreme weather; it will also function quietly and efficiently in milder conditions.

We’ll next find locations for system components that maximize comfort and minimize noise and visual impact. Then, we’ll review our design with software tools to ensure that all the components are correctly matched—and that the complete system meets the project goals.
4. High quality installation
Housitive’s laser focus on mini-splits has allowed us to examine the installation process in detail with the goal of maximizing quality while keeping costs low. We've developed written procedures for every step of the process, from installing the equipment, pipes, and wires to protecting walls and floors. These procedures form the core of our in-house training. Together with checklists and photo documentation, they help us ensure that every detail of the project is done right.
5. Performance testing
Before we leave the house, we need to know that the new mini-splits are functioning perfectly. That’s why we put every system through a thorough testing process, including:
  1. Refrigerant checks to ensure the system is leak-free. Rigorous leak testing is key to an efficient, long-lasting system and to good environmental stewardship. To learn more about our industry-leading protocols, check out Jon’s article in Fine Homebuilding.
  2. Electrical checks to show that the system is getting the correct voltage and that the surge protector is active.
  3. Capacity checks to ensure that the system is delivering the correct air temperatures and heating/cooling outputs.
  4. Condensate checks to confirm that every mini-split head is removing summer humidity and draining it to a safe location.
We’ll include test results with the completion paperwork for every project. The testing process allows us to offer a 2-year “bumper-to-bumper” labor and materials guarantee on the entire system–twice what most companies offer.
6. Getting the most out of the new heat pump
To help customers get the most out of their new mini-splits, we build in time to provide a complete hands-on orientation. We walk them through the system's operation and explain how to keep it in top condition. For example, did you know that heat pumps operate most efficiently with a set it and forget it approach? If you are leaving your house for several days, you can set the temperature back several degrees,but it might take several hours to get back to your desired temperature.

We follow up a week after the installation to ensure that customers are happy with the work and provide ongoing support through our website.

Finally, we provide all the documentation necessary for the customer to access the relevant tax credits and rebates, so the full economic value of the heat pump is captured.
Interested in more technical detail?

Read Jon's Guide on Install Dos and Don'ts

Guide On Heat Pump Install Dos and Don'ts

Frequently asked questions about ductless mini-split heat pumps

How can a heat pump both heat and cool my home?
A heat pump transfers heat from one place to another, with the help of refrigerant. During the winter, in heating mode, the heat pump absorbs heat from the air outside, moves it with refrigerant and transfers it to the air in your home. In the summer months, the heat pump works in the opposite direction, removing heat (and humidity) from your indoor air.
Can a heat pump provide enough heat in a cold climate?
Cold climate heat pumps have been around for a long time in other parts of the world, especially in Northern Europe. In Norway, for example, there are 604 heat pumps installed for every 1,000 households. In the Northeast US, there are already over 400,000 homes using a heat pump as the primary heating system, and that number is growing every day (source: EIA RECS). A study done in Massachusetts and New York found that 9 out of 10 homeowners were satisfied with their heat pump.

Some homeowners choose to leave their existing furnace or boiler as a back-up to activate below a certain temperature.
How can I save with a heat pump when electricity is so expensive?
Traditional furnaces and boilers can deliver about 80-95% of the energy in the fuel they consume into useful heat; electric baseboards are 100% efficient at converting electric energy into heat. Because mini-splits work by moving heat energy, rather than by combustion or electric resistance, they can achieve much higher efficiencies. Each unit of electricity a mini split consumes can bring 2.5-4 units of heat into the house. Even though a kiloWatt hour of electricity costs 1.2-2x as much as the equivalent in oil or propane, mini splits use energy so much more effectively that the net cost of keeping warm goes down.
Why should I consider a ductless mini-split vs a central heat pump?
You’ll hear the terms “mini split” and “ductless heat pump” used to describe heating and cooling systems. What exactly do these terms mean? A heat pump is a device that uses electricity to transfer heat energy between the indoors and outdoors. Ductless heat pumps don’t need ducts to distribute forced air. Instead they have separate wall-or floor-mounted heads for each room they serve. This allows great flexibility in design, as well as zone control. It also makes it easy to install them in houses with radiators or baseboard heat. Mini split heat pumps are “split”--they have separate indoor and outdoor units. This makes them much quieter and more efficient than window air conditioners. “Mini” refers to the fact that these systems were originally designed to serve a single room or small apartment. Modern mini splits are capable of heating and cooling even the largest homes.

If you currently have forced air for heating and cooling and your ducts are in good condition, you can consider a central solution. If you do not have forced air and/or your ducts are in poor condition, then ductless mini-splits would likely be a better solution for you. A ductless mini-split systems, are inherently zoned, giving you more control over space temperatures.
Do I need to leave my existing heating in place as a back-up if I install a heat pump?
Many homes in the Northeast are heated solely by heat pumps. Depending on the size and insulation levels of your home, it could be possible to heat your home solely with a heat pump system. However, we also understand that it might take some time to get comfortable with that idea. If you prefer, we can leave your existing system as a back-up. We can even install an integrated control, which would automatically activate below a certain temperature.
How is the size of a heat pump determined?
Sizing depends on multiple factors like the size and of your home and insulation levels, among other factors. We will make a detailed assessment to determine the right equipment sizing for you. You should expect the sizing to be in the range of 2-5 tons for a home of 1,500-3,000 square feet.

Fun fact: tonnage in the context of heating and cooling refers to a unit's capacity to heat or cool a certain amount of space in an hour. The word 'tonnage' originally had a very literal definition - the rate of heat transfer required to melt (or freeze) one ton of ice in 24 hours. It's a bit more precise in its modern definition - 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. You may see heat pumps categorized in either way (i.e., a heat pump may be labeled 3 ton, or 36,000 BTU/h).
How does switching to a mini-split system reduce my home's carbon emissions?
Our electricity comes from a mix of fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) and low-carbon sources like wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear. Because heat pumps use electricity so efficiently, they reduce carbon emissions regardless of generation type. A recent study found that heat pumps help slow climate change, even in states with mostly fossil fuel power plants.New York’s electric grid already relies heavily on low-carbon sources. These will increase as more wind farms and solar arrays come online. The state has set ambitious goals: a 70% renewable grid by 2030, and net zero emissions from electric generation by 2040. A mini-split installed today will reduce emissions from year one, and emissions will drop further as our grid gets greener.
Why should I get a heat pump instead of a new air conditioning system?
A heat pump can provide both heating and cooling, compared to an air conditioner which provides just cooling. Several states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, have significant rebates for heat pumps, in addition to the federal tax credits. In these states, the cost of a heat pump after the incentives may be approximately the same or even lower than a new central air conditioning unit, which makes a heat pump a very attractive option vs. AC. If your home is heated with high-cost fuels like oil and propane, your heat pump will offset much of the delivered fuel cost because it can heat most or all of your home, and you will likely also benefit from much more efficient cooling (because cooling efficiency has improved meaningfully over the last ~10 years).
Why should I get a heat pump instead of a new furnace / boiler?
A heat pump will likely be more expensive than just a furnace or boiler. But after state rebates and federal tax credits, the cost difference may be less dramatic. And when you combine that with the fact that a heat pump will meet your entire cooling need (meaning you won't need to replace your air conditioner in the future), you may spend less in upfront cost for one heat pump system, versus a furnace / boiler system plus an air conditioning system.

Moreover, if your home is heated with high-cost fuels like oil or propane, your heat pump can save you on heating by meeting most or all of your home's heating needs.

Lastly, new HVAC systems (especially heat pumps) improve home value. According to one study, residences with an air-source heat pump see a 4-7% price premium versus other homes.
How do I get rebates and tax credits?
The federal tax credit (often called '25C') is available for up to 30% of the install cost, or $2,000, for qualifying air source heat pumps. You can claim the credit on  your federal tax return for the tax year in which you made the purchase. Housitive will provide the supporting documents you’ll need. . More information about the 25C tax credit (which covers other energy efficient improvements in addition to air source heat pump installations) is available from the IRS, and from Energy Star.

As a PSEG Comfort Partner, Housitive can help you access incentives of up to $5000 for qualified mini-split systems. Income-eligible customers can receive even larger incentives–up to $11,000. We’ll file all the paperwork and subtract the incentives from the price of your system.