In 2008, Amy and Rodney Lumpkin moved their family into a 3,000-square-foot home in Limerick, Pennsylvania. As the years passed, the home began to feel cramped for the couple and their five children. The Lumpkins decided to complete a 1,000-square-foot addition; this would create two new bedrooms, a bathroom and a variety of other functional spaces. It would also necessitate getting a new HVAC system, since the old system didn’t have enough capacity to cover the new spaces. During the planning phase, the couple realized the project could be an opportunity to address a handful of comfort issues in the home’s original spaces. What system could offer everything they wanted? Only Zoned Comfort Solutions™ from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric).
Thinking back to the conditions of the home pre-addition, Amy said, “The house was certainly livable, but climate control inside the home wasn’t ideal. For example, our master bedroom, which is above the garage, was an issue for me. I get really warm in the morning when I’m getting ready for work, so I’d set the thermostat at 65 degrees for the entire house. That froze everyone else out and it wasn’t an efficient use of energy. I could never get our bedroom as cool as I liked it during summer nights either, which made sleeping difficult.”
The couple called in New Age Air, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, an HVAC contractor they’d worked with over the years. Jason Schondra, system designer, said, “When they called me for the addition, I saw it as an opportunity to correct some problems I had uncovered over the years. I also wanted to give them control over all the spaces they were adding, as well as those they had expressed concerns about over time.”
Challenge: Finding a cooling and heating system for a new home addition that could also solve years of comfort issues in the home’s original areas
He continued, “Zoning was the single biggest issue. We had a two-story addition that was going to be built to a much different standard than the rest of the house, just because it was more modern. Controlling the temperature there was going to be difficult. And then there would be different spaces with vastly different needs: the master bedroom suite, the children’s bedrooms and bathrooms, and a basement area that was always freezing in the winter and generally felt damp during the other seasons.”
The team began looking at options. Amy said, “First, we looked at something similar to what we already had. This was obviously the least costly option, but wouldn’t have addressed the existing issues in the house. Then we looked at geothermal, but we opted against that, as well. Jason showed us the Mitsubishi [Electric] system, which through its flexibility could address the cooling and heating issues we’d had over the years.” Schondra explained further: “The Mitsubishi [Electric] system gives you greater abilities than geothermal to handle very precise requirements. It’s the INVERTER technology that does this, and this is what makes Mitsubishi [Electric] systems cost less to run than geothermal.”
Amy said they “didn’t want to start over and rip out the existing system and all the ductwork because we already had enough going on with our five kids and actually living in the home during the construction of the addition.” With Mitsubishi Electric Zoned Comfort Solutions, they didn’t have to change any of the existing system; they could mix and match ducted and ductless indoor units, and reseal and repurpose old ducts.
Solution: Zoned Comfort Solutions™ from Mitsubishi Electric
Zoned technology also offered unbeatable efficiency. Schondra said, “Rodney wanted to do whatever would make Amy happy in terms of comfort, and he was also really interested in efficiency. It was a nice bonus that in addition to getting the most advanced, reliable, comfortable system I could put in for them, they’d also get the most energy-efficient system.”
These impressive features were something Amy noticed that “the international cooling and heating manufacturers offer. They seem to be more advanced than some of the domestic brands.” As a Diamond Contractor™ and someone who has worked with Mitsubishi Electric for 24 years, Schondra commented, “We’ve found there are a couple dozen brands that come and go. In any given year, you may see two or three new brands that come on to the market and then disappear. Mitsubishi [Electric] is the only constant over these last 24 years. There’s been a continuity of product that’s really important. They also really do have the most advanced equipment out there. For this size project on the residential side, Mitsubishi [Electric]’s M-Series just makes sense – Daikin and Fujitsu have something similar, but not with low-temperature heating ability. With another manufacturer, we would have needed two outdoor units to get the capacity that we could do on one outdoor unit with Mitsubishi [Electric]. The new MVZ unit is a game-changer – a real solution for almost any house since it can be integrated into American-style ductwork.”
Schondra has also liked working with distributor Peirce-Phelps, Inc., Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. “They’ve always been great at keeping track of new products on the market, maintaining equipment stock and supporting the product through rebates and financing. And the training facility – there’s nothing that compares in the region. They have a Mitsubishi [Electric]-based training room. We can go for a couple of days of training and get our hands on the equipment. They do everything I need them to do. You can’t ask more from a distributor.”
With the system confidently selected, installation began. “We lived here throughout the entire construction of the addition. The HVAC portion was the least disruptive of all the things that were going on with this project. There was really just one day of major work in the existing part of the house,” said Rodney. Schondra added, “Compared to other types of systems, this one is remarkably low-impact on the house, even if it’s the ducted units.”
Result: A non-disruptive installation, comfort throughout the entire home and impressive efficiency
Since installation, Amy has finally been comfortable while getting ready for work in the morning. “I used to have a fan blowing on me while I dried my hair in the morning, but I just don’t need it anymore. For me, that’s the test! Everyone is happy, though, not just me. We have everything set at a comfortable level and the kids haven’t complained or touched the thermostats, which was something we used to have an issue with.”
To save energy, the Lumpkins have also been programming their units. “I have it set so the unit in our bedroom brings the temperature down in the morning to keep me cool, but then it’s set to go up to a more moderate level when I’m at work. It’s set to come back down in the evening.” Looking at their first few months of utility bills, Amy already feels the system is helping them save energy and is “pretty efficient. Of course, our bill went up – about $100 a month – and we expected that to happen. But the amount was a lot less than we had anticipated given that we added 1,000 square feet plus much of the existing part of the second floor to the load, and that’s all electric. We also had a pretty hot summer. When you think about electric cooling and heating, you think, oh my gosh, it’s going to be so expensive! But it’s really been fine so far.”
The couple was also able to save some money up front – a $400 rebate from Mitsubishi Electric, a $350 utility rebate and a $300 federal tax credit.
The day-to-day experience post-installation has been positive, as well. Amy and Rodney had expected noisy operation but have found that their zoned system is whisper-quiet. Amy said, “We located the outdoor unit right next to our patio. When we first saw the unit, we thought, that thing is going to make a ton of noise when we are eating dinner outside or entertaining family and friends and it’ll be awful. But, we did a cookout that first night after the system was fully installed and as we sat at the patio table eating dinner, 8 feet away from the Mitsubishi [Electric] unit, we realized we didn’t hear it running. We turned to look at it, and it was! So it’s very quiet, which is nice because it’s right in the middle of things, in our living space.” Rodney said the indoor units also operate quietly: “You just don’t hear them. It’s been great. The whole experience has been very positive and all the folks at New Age Air have been fantastic to work with.”