How much can you save with a more efficient mini split ductless heat pump? Will choosing a higher efficiency be worth the extra money?
This calculator gives you clear, accurate results about costs and savings.
Note for calculator: This calculator is based on EIA Residential Electric Rate (Accessed 2019) and EPA Cooling Hours (Accessed 2016). You can adjust them based on your own conditions.
When calculating, it assumes you are using the mini split like an HVAC system for the whole cooling season. If you just use it to cool your shop or garage (during the day) or bedroom (during the night), the actual yearly savings will be less. In these cases, you can customize the cooling hours based on your own needs.
Box 1: Mini Split Size (BTU)
Input the size mini split you have – or the one you will need to cool the space.
Type in the size of your mini split. If you don’t know, check the tag on the outside unit. It should have a series of numbers including the capacity in BTU (British thermal units).
Slider Bars – Low SEER and High SEER
Select and slide the two bars to reflect the two SEER levels you’re considering. Mini split heat pumps and ACs in use today range in efficiency from 14 to 42 – a huge range, of course, with very different operating costs along the range.
Tip: Use the High SEER slider bar to evaluate the savings you’ll get with several different SEER ratings. For example, see how much you’ll save with a 20 SEER, 25 SEER, 32 SEER, etc. Then, evaluate your operating costs – what you’ll save on your energy bill – with how much more expensive the more efficient mini split is.
Your State / City
Find your state in the list, and select the city closest to you. Important data will automatically populate the next two boxes:
Yearly Cooling Hours (hrs/yr): The information is supplied by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, based on the most recent study in 2016. It is the most accurate data currently available.
Electric Rate (¢/kWh): These are the most current electric rates supplied by the US Energy Information Agency, or EIA.
Tip on Electric Rate: You can also check your energy bill or your electricity provider’s website for the most exact rates.
Results – Compare Mini Split Energy Cost Savings
Full-time use – Our calculator is designed to show you what the cost comparison is for two mini split systems if you use the system for full-time cooling. In other words, it is your main source of air conditioning, not supplemental or used part time. Using the calculator in situations less than full time is discussed below.
Your results automatically show up. Three important numbers are given:
- Annual cost for running the lower SEER unit
- Annual cost for running the higher SEER unit
- Annual savings if you choose the more efficient unit
Mini Split Savings Graph
We take it one more step to show you how much you’ll save over 1, 5, 10 and 15 years with the more efficient system.
Tip: If you change the number in the Mini Split Size (BTU) box at this point, the Results and Graph might not automatically update. You’ll have to click anywhere on the page for the numbers to update.
- System 1 – 36,000 BTU 17 SEER mini split, $6,500
- System 2 – 36,000 BTU 28 SEER mini split, $8,400
System 2 costs $1,900 more. Is it worth it?
*Dallas, TX: 10 year savings: $2,120. 15 year savings: $3,180
In Dallas, the break-even point is about 10 years. Over 15 years, your savings definitely show – more than $1,000. It would be worth the extra cost.
*Columbus, OH: 10 year savings: $1,170. 15 year savings: $1,755.
In Columbus, buying the more expensive and more efficient mini split would not be worth the extra money.
Supplemental and Part Time Use
If the mini split AC won’t run every time AC would normally be used, then do this:
1). Follow all the steps above – BTU, SEER sliders, State/City.
2). Delete the number in the Yearly Cooling Hours box
3). Type in what you expect the number of hours will be if you use it in a bedroom only in the evening and night, in a garage during hot afternoons or in a workshop a couple times per week.
Results – If you plan to run the AC less than 1,000 hours per year, you will probably find that buying a more efficient mini split is NOT worth the extra money. It simply won’t pay for itself.
But as they say, “crunch the numbers” to see what you come up with for how much money is saved using a more efficient mini split.
Final Tip on Using the Calculator to Try Various Situations
If you change the number of hours for your location for part-time use, and then want to check the data for full-time use, you might need to refresh the page and then start over (system BTUs, SEER sliders, etc.).