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How to Keep an Addition Cool in the Summer

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Rose in Pennsylvania is on the line who has a problem – and I’m sorry to say in this horrific, hot summer – cooling her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROSE: The house is air conditioned but we have a room addition that was put on over a concrete porch and below that, a basement. And I was told that we couldn’t get a duct or an outlet into this room. And I heard Richard Trethewey from This Old House talking. He was going to talk about heating and air-conditioning a room without ducts. And unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to listen to it and I wondered if you could tell me about that.

    TOM: Yeah. What Richard was talking about is something that we call “mini-split ductless.”

    Now, in a situation like this, a mini-split ductless system would be perfect. Because, like the name, you don’t have any ducts, so you don’t have to have a traditional air handler and then ducts that extend into the space.

    A mini-split ductless consists of a compressor that’s outside and then the air handler, which hangs on the wall inside your addition. And there’s a refrigerant tube and electrical wires that go from one to the next. And when the thermostat tells it to come on, the mini-split ductless system will come on. It will cool your house and it will also – could potentially warm it, as well, because you can get a mini-split ductless system that’s set up as a heat pump, as well as just an air conditioner. So you could have additional heat in that space, as well as cooling.

    They’re made by a wide variety of manufacturers. You could take a look at, for example, Mitsubishi.

    ROSE: OK.

    TOM: Mr. Slim makes one. Fujitsu makes one.

    And I have one in my office – actually, in my studio. And I have one in the studio because it’s so quiet, we can be on the radio even with the mini-split ductless running.

    ROSE: Well, that’s great. And the – if it had heating, obviously that would be an electrical heating, right?

    TOM: Well, it’s a heat pump.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. Because we have oil heat for the house and air conditioning but just this one room …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s electrical, yeah. But it’s a heat-pump system. Basically, the difference between heating and cooling, when you’re using this, is a heat pump reverses the refrigeration cycle so that you get warm air inside, as opposed to cold air.

    ROSE: Oh, OK. And are there any estimates, like just starting out, what price might be? I know it depends on, I imagine, the – how large a room is. But I just wondered, into the thousands, of course?

    TOM: Yeah, it will be into the thousands. I’m going to say probably a couple of thousand dollars.

    ROSE: For the unit plus installation?

    TOM: Right, exactly. Yeah. It’s not inexpensive but it’s a real problem-solver.

    ROSE: Right.

    TOM: And once you have it, you’ll be so much more comfortable. And you’ll get the use out of that room, you know? Right now, you can’t use the room too much, so you’ll get the use out of it.

    ROSE: Well, we have the door open and the air and the cool – heat comes in somewhat but you need a fan. In the winter, you need a little heater to add to it.

    TOM: Yeah, this is a perfect solution for you, Rose. Take a look at the mini-split ductless systems. They have to be professionally installed but it’s going to make you much more comfortable in that space.

    ROSE: OK. Well, thanks a lot and I do enjoy listening to you every week.

    TOM: Thanks, Rose.

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