Will ductless heating work in Boston?

A building in Halifax, NS

If you’re wondering whether a ductless heating and cooling system will work in Boston, you need only look northward to Canada for your answer. Halifax, Nova Scotia sits 410 miles northeast of Boston, as the crow flies. The average January temperature is about 25°F. In July, daytime temperatures can reach the low 80’s. For the sake of comparison, the average January temperature in Boston is 29°F, and the average July temperature is 82°F.

Ductless heating in humid climates


To complicate Halifax’s heating and cooling scene, the area has an average humidity of about 67% year round. (The average humidity in Boston is about 63%.) Halifax experiences its highest humidity in December and January, when the average humidity reaches nearly 75%. In Boston’s case, August and September are typically the most humid months.

The similarities don’t end with temperature and humidity. Halifax is known for its historic architecture. The area has hundreds of old buildings and homes, and the residents want to keep it that way. Adding modern devices to an otherwise picturesque (read: historical) landscape, or trying to retrofit buildings to accept new technologies can be challenging. In Halifax, wood is still used as a primary heat source in many older homes, and most homes don’t have air conditioning at all.

So Halifax is no stranger to heating and cooling challenges. It might surprise you to learn that ductless heating and cooling systems have quickly become popular in Halifax. It’s hard to control the intensity of wood heat, so it’s not uncommon to find indoor temperatures of 80°F to 85°F in wood-heated homes. It also takes a lot of labor to chop up, dry and store enough wood for the winter. Ductless heating systems offer the benefit of consistent temperatures year-round, and homeowners can control the temperature better with a ductless air-source heat pump. Ductless systems also allow homeowners to add air conditioning to homes for summertime comfort.

But the humidity! What about the humidity?

Humidity always has an impact on comfort, but when high humidity and cold temperatures combine (as they do in Halifax and Boston), the natural result is frost. Frost might be cool to look at, but it’s definitely not cool when your condenser frosts over. How do ductless systems deal with frost? By positioning the condenser in a sheltered location, and using a base-pan heater, the condenser operates frost-free regardless of the conditions outside, allowing you to heat your home efficiently in the winter.

One great advantage of ductless heating systems is that they can (but don’t have to) replace your current heating system. You can save money without sacrificing comfort by taking advantage of each system’s strengths. For example, if you have an oil furnace, you can operate the ductless system when the temperatures outside are close to average winter temperatures. On very cold days or nights, you can still operate your oil system. Your electric bill will rise with a ductless system, but this cost will be well offset by the hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars you’ll save by using less heating oil during the winter.

If you’d like more information about ductless heating or how you can combine a ductless system with your current heating and cooling equipment, please give us a call at New England Ductless at (781) 995-2665.

Photo Credit: Ken Morris, via FreeImages.com