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Wide open spaces in your home, such as a large living room or a basement, can be challenging to heat efficiently. Unlike smaller, more traditionally sized rooms such as a bedroom or a home office, large indoor spaces require extra consideration to ensure they remain warm and cozy.

Discover five tips and recommendations to ensure your large indoor spaces have the proper heating.

1. Ensure Your Primary Heating System Is an Efficient Mini Split Heat Pump

Mini split heat pumps are among the most efficient whole-home heating and cooling systems available. High-efficiency models such as items in the MRCOOL DIY mini split product family can provide excellent heating during the colder months, as long as you select a package with the correct number of zones and capacity. If you primarily need your mini split system as a heating solution, check the system’s operating temperatures and ensure the outdoor unit is rated to work at optimal efficiency in your climate. For instance, most MRCOOL systems can provide efficient heating even at outdoor temperatures of -13°F.

2. Verify Your System and Individual Handlers Are Correctly Sized

Mini split systems are rated according to their BTU output. The Department of Energy recommends air conditioners of all types must be able to generate at least 20 BTU per square foot of living space to provide adequate heating. Choosing a handler with the right BTU rating for your space is critical. If your mini split handler is too small, the motor will overwork. If the handler is too large, it may short-cycle (when the condenser switches on and off too frequently), lowering the efficiency of your system.

A 4 zone mini split system or another type of multi-zone unit is the ideal solution to efficiently control the temperature in a large home or open space without overworking or short-cycling the handlers. For example, one of MRCOOL’s 51,000 BTU 4-zone heat pump packages includes three 9,000 BTU indoor air handlers and one 18,000 BTU indoor air handler. A suitable configuration for this system is to assign the 9,000 BTU indoor units to the living room, kitchen and primary bedroom, while the 18,000 BTU unit can be installed in a wide-open space such as the basement or the attic.

Heating unit

3. Install the Outdoor Unit Properly and Check It Regularly

A mini split system consists of an outdoor unit mounted outside of your home and one or multiple indoor air units, one for each room or zone. In heating mode, the outdoor unit pulls warm air into the house and pushes cold air outside. To ensure your system remains as efficient as possible year-round, you must verify the outdoor unit is correctly installed to keep it free of obstructions and ensure proper airflow.

If you live in a geographic area with cold, snowy winters, you must ensure your outdoor unit is protected against the snow. Snow blockages prevent the proper cycling of warm air into your home, forcing your heat pump to consume more power. The result is a less efficient system that drives up your energy bills and cannot efficiently cool the largest spaces inside your home. There are a few simple and efficient measures to prevent snow from blocking your outdoor unit, including:

  • Ensuring the outdoor unit is mounted at least two feet above the ground using robust ground- or wall-mounted hardware.
  • Installing a roof cover above the outdoor unit, preferably angled to the side. As snow piles onto the cover, it will slide toward one side, preventing it from blocking the grille.
  • Regularly checking the outdoor unit’s grille for snow, leaves and other obstructions, then cleaning it as needed to maintain the system’s efficiency.

4. Check Your Indoor Unit Placement

It is crucial for each indoor unit to be installed correctly and away from all obstacles, especially when installing a DIY system such as the MRCOOL 2 zone mini split. Like with the outdoor unit, obstructions and improper placement can harm your system’s heating efficiency.

A typical wall-mounted indoor air handler should be installed at least six feet above the floor to ensure proper functioning in cooling mode, with at least two feet of clearance under the ceiling for proper heat distribution in heating mode. Keep objects, furniture and electronics away from the indoor units, and ensure it doesn’t receive direct sunlight. These factors can disturb the indoor handlers’ temperature sensors and cause them to send less heat than you need, especially inside larger rooms.

Person setting temperature in home

5. Use Auxiliary Heating Systems

Even if your primary heating system functions optimally and your indoor air handler is correctly installed and positioned, wider areas within your home may still develop small pockets of colder air in specific areas. Although the uneven heat distribution may cause discomfort, increasing the thermostat typically isn’t a suitable solution. Turning the temperature setting too high will increase energy consumption while making previously properly heated areas feel too hot. Some alternative solutions include:

  • Electric Fireplaces

Instead of changing your mini split system’s thermostat and settings, consider using an electric fireplace. These heating systems can provide adequate supplemental heating in localized areas, such as one particular side or corner of a large room. For instance, a typical 44″ electric fireplace can provide up to 10,000 BTU of supplemental heating, making it the ideal auxiliary heater for a large basement or an attic. Additionally, they are energy-efficient solutions that won’t drive your energy bills up.

  • Infrared Heaters

If you need a more space-efficient auxiliary heating system, a good alternative is to use an infrared heater. These solutions use infrared panels that are easy to install and capable of providing the maximum listed heat output in five minutes or less, making them a convenient solution for remediating uneven heating in large rooms. Like electric fireplaces, infrared heaters are economical to run. The low operating costs are due to their high mechanical efficiency: Nearly 100% of the energy consumed by an infrared heater is converted into heat.

Keep Your Home Warm and Comfortable During the Colder Seasons

Preparing for this winter and maintaining a warm, pleasant indoor atmosphere doesn’t have to be challenging. Following these simple tips helps ensure you get the most out of your home’s heating solutions and keeps you and your loved ones comfortable throughout the colder months.

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