Small duct systems are a great way to supplement or get a radiator heater replacement.
The Unico System, a high-efficiency cooling and heating system, can be discreetly retrofitted into historic homes without the need for extensive remodeling or intrusive ductwork. There’s less mess, less dust, less installation time— and no need to get your home for installation whether you’re replacing or supplementing your radiant heating system.
The Unico System offers three configurations in radiator homes:
– Connected to an existing boiler
– Connected to a heat pump
– Connected to an electric duct heater
Here are 10 ways small duct systems can increase comfort in homes by replacing a home radiator.
Efficient supplemental system. Small duct systems can supplement old radiators or boiler systems. In colder climates where radiators are needed to deliver warmth after the temperatures drop below freezing, Unico efficiently improves comfort in the fall and spring. Plus, Unico also delivers the same home comfort in the summer when it’s time to turn on your air conditioner.
Draft-free. A small duct heating system eliminates drafts. That means no more chills down the back of your neck when your heat isn’t running. Air is heated inside the central system and is released at a higher temperature, creating a more even warmth than systems that draw air from the outside. Unwanted drafts are often caused by systems that pull in outdoor air and need to work harder to warm the cold air coming into the system.
Ultraviolet light. When installed with an ultraviolet (UV) light, The Unico System penetrates and kills harmful bacteria and viruses as it delivers clean air throughout your home. UV lights have been used in hospitals and water treatment plants for years, and now you can have the same benefits in your home.
Air filtration. Are allergies a concern? If so, The Unico System has an air filter rated MERV 13, which filters out particles as small as 3 microns, including pollen, dust and other allergens. Why is MERV 13 important? That’s the standard hospitals use when rating their air systems. Because Unico is a compact system with small air registers, it traps less dust and allergens in the system compared to traditional and mini split systems.
Even temperature. Radiators make the surrounding air warm but do little to circulate it, making the air hot near the heater and cool everywhere else. Small duct systems circulate air evenly throughout every room of the home. With The Unico System’s SMART Control Board, your HVAC system intelligently delivers consistent temperature to every room. That means the same temperature in every room—even rooms that always seem to be warmer or cooler than the rest of the house.
Fits in Your Space
Reclaim floor space. Old radiators can take up an inconvenient amount of floor space in a room, and newer versions still require a significant amount of space near the wall. Small duct outlets are only 2” to 2.5” in diameter and can be placed on the floor, wall, or ceiling—wherever it will be out of the way for the design of the room. Installing a small duct system would let you regain floor space in your home.
Works with boilers and hot water heaters. When installed with the Unico Hot Water Coil, The Unico System can bring ducted heating and cooling to homes with a boiler already in place. Hydronic heating is a modern solution to an old radiator heater. The Unico Hot Water Coil is designed to integrate with boilers, hot water heaters, and radiant systems, such as radiators, baseboard heating and in-floor heating.
Ideal for historic homes. Small ducts fit in most homes without requiring major renovation. Air supply tubing is flexible and can be inserted into existing tight spaces. This makes mini ducts the best choice for historic or older homes where you want to maintain the home’s character and want your heating system to have minimal visual impact. Plus, Unico has partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 2002 and has been installed at sites, such as President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Reduce fossil fuels. Looking to reduce your home’s carbon footprint? Supplementing a radiant system with small duct heating helps you convert from burning fossil fuels to a more sustainable solution. When configured with a heat pump or electric duct heater, your Unico System generates heat from geothermal or electric sources.
Regulation compliance. The Unico System helps homes meet changing energy consumption regulations that are being adopted by state legislatures across the country. Most of these regulations are aimed at new home construction, but major renovations may also be affected. Fortunately, installing a Unico System requires little to no renovation and improves efficiency by delivering comfort at a lower thermostat setting. The Unico System’s airtight supply tubing means 100% of the warm air is used to improve home comfort.
To learn more, find your local contractor for more information.
When looking to improve the comfort of your home during fall and winter, forced air heating systems are often where homeowners turn. Frequently associated with gas furnaces, forced air systems push heated air through ducts connected to the central unit.
When considering the pros and cons of forced air heating, it’s important to understand how those pros and cons change when comparing different sources of heat. With a small duct system from Unico, you get many of the same advantages of a gas furnace forced air system with none of the cons.
Heating configurations with The Unico System:
Heat Pump: The Unico System standard refrigerant coil can provide both central heating and cooling when paired with either an outdoor air-source or ground-source (geothermal) heat pump. This method has a distinct advantage over conventional central air system’s heat pump coils in that the air it puts out actually feels warm, delivering higher inside temperatures when outside temperatures fall.
Hot Water Coil: Hydronic heating with a Unico System hot water coil matched with a boiler (or, less commonly, a high efficiency hot water heater) is an excellent method of efficient, comfortable central heating. This method can be used as primary heating or as a supplement to radiators (either free-standing or baseboard-mounted) and is an exceptional partner to in-floor radiant systems. Because The Unico System provides instant heat it is a perfect companion to these types of systems in the “shoulder” months – those times when just enough heat is needed to take the chill out of the air and firing up a radiant system would take too long and expend too much energy.
Electric Duct Heater: An electric furnace that can be placed directly within the plenum (main duct configuration), the Unico electric duct heater provides immediate heat and is available in sizes ranging from 2 to 20 kW. Unico electric duct heaters can be used for primary or auxiliary heat. No matter which method you or your installing contractor choose you’ll be sure to get the very best in efficient, comfortable small-duct central heating.
Pros of forced air heating
Heats the whole home. Radiant heat, such as radiators or baseboard heating, warms the space near the source, but they do little to circulate the air. Radiators can make you feel warm and comfortable if you’re near the unit in the room, but leave you shivering if you’re not close enough. Ductless systems, also known as mini split systems, need to be installed in every room because they don’t have a network of ducts connecting the rooms. High velocity heating moves warmed air throughout the entire home, delivering comfort in every room.
Unobtrusive. Ducting for Unico is built into the walls or ceilings. Radiators on the other hand take up floor space or require a wall to be unobstructed. Unico systems take up even less space with 2” to 2.5” round ductwork. Unico is the preferred choice for many historic and custom homes because it fits anywhere and requires no major renovations during installation. Small duct systems also have a central unit small enough to be put in attics or crawl spaces.
Disadvantages of forced air heating
All heating systems are not created equal. Traditional, wide duct systems that heat using a gas furnace can have major drawbacks.
Dry air. Gas furnaces have a flame that dries the air in your home. This leads to uncomfortable dry skin and a dry nose, which makes you more susceptible to viruses and other contagions. Using a heating system that uses electric heat instead of burning gas can help maintain moisture in the air when in operation.
Inefficient. The wide metal ducts traditionally used by gas heating systems leak air and lose heat, no matter how they’re installed. Metal ducts lose air at the seams and are not 100% airtight. Metal ducts also cause friction, reducing air flow, as opposed to The Unico System with its nylon interior designed for efficient air flow.
Pros of The Unico System
The Unico System delivers the pros of forced air heating without the cons. Whether you’re looking at adding forced air heating to your home or a replacement for your existing forced air heating system, here’s why you should consider The Unico System.
No more dry air. With a small duct heating system from Unico, you can say goodbye to dry skin and air that comes with traditional heating systems. The Unico System is a closed system that warms air from within your home without drying it out, keeping your home comfortable and healthy.
Whisper-quiet. Traditional wide ducting isn’t insulated and acts like mini echo chambers throughout your home. Unico System customers often forget their system is running because it’s whisper quiet. Engineered with special sound-absorbing air supply tubing means there’s no creaking or vibrating when the system turns on.
Fits your home. With its small air register and mini ducts, The Unico System fits in every house without requiring major renovation—even historic homes. Unico’s air supply tubing is flexible and can be inserted into existing tight spaces without tearing up walls and ceilings. This makes small ducts the best choice for historic or older homes where you want to maintain the home’s character and don’t want to add bulky systems.
Efficient comfort. Compared to gas furnaces, a small duct system delivers warmer air with less heat loss through the vents. That means you can set your thermostat and get reliable comfort no matter the time of day or outdoor temperature. The Unico System’s SMART Control Board manages fan speed and allows for zoning if some rooms tend to be warmer or cooler, further improving energy efficiency.
Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that roughly 25.7% of adults in the United States have seasonal allergies? As the seasons change, watery eyes, coughs, congestion and sore throats become more common. Even though there are plenty of home remedies and medications that help, air filters can also make a big impact.
Air filters, like the ones found in HVAC systems, remove allergens from the air and improve the air quality of the home. Join the experts at Unico as we talk about how allergies are impacted by air filters and the importance of choosing the right HVAC system.
The Different Types of Air Filters and Their Impact on Allergies
In general, air filters remove many types of allergens in your home by catching particles in the air like pet dander, dust, pollen, and more. For example, the air filter inside of an HVAC system traps even larger particles so there are fewer allergy irritants in the air. It also works hard to prevent dust and other debris from building up in the system itself so that it can continue to work at optimal efficiency.
When it comes to air filters that can help with allergies, there are some common types:
• Fiberglass Filters: Fiberglass air filters are affordable and are made from thin spun strands of fiberglass that are woven together. These types of filters may not be the best option since many baseline models are not made to trap smaller allergen particles because of its smaller surface area.
• Pleated Filters: These air filters are most commonly made out polyester fabric and cotton folds. Their large surface helps capture more allergens and these filters come in high- efficiency options that focus on trapping smaller particles. It’s worth mentioning that pleated filters might need to be replaced more often than some other air filters because of the dirt, dust and allergens that are trapped.
• HEPA Filters: HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are often used to help with allergies because they are able to trap the most small particles of allergy irritants in the air—many of which are too small to see at 0.3 microns, but can still enter the body.
How MERV Rating Plays into Allergies and Air Filters
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, ratings are used to assess how effective air filters are at removing particles and allergens from the air. As we hinted above, a high MERV rating means the filter can trap smaller particles. MERV ratings range from 1 to 16, with higher ratings representing more effective filtration. For example, environments like surgery suites in hospitals or laboratories where pharmaceuticals are manufactured need a very high MERV rating. That’s because a few small particles have the potential to cause significant harm in sensitive environments.
To filter out many common smaller allergens that can cause issues, it’s recommended to have an air filter with a MERV rating between 9 and 13. These higher MERV ratings make it less likely for particles to enter the home and trigger your allergies. However, in order to choose the right air filter for your home, it’s important to consider more than just a MERV rating. Think about:
• The filter MERV rating that’s approved for your HVAC system.
• The balance between higher levels of filtration and reducing air flow.
• What size filter is needed for the most efficient performance.
Air Filter Maintenance and Allergies
No matter what type of air filter an HVAC system uses, it needs to be maintained and changed regularly. When an air filter is dirty, it becomes clogged, and all the allergens it’s collected will start to circulate back into the home. Over time, this will lower the air quality in your home and can make allergies worse.
The air filter in your HVAC system should be replaced every 60 to 90 days. And roughly every three to six months, you’ll want to have your HVAC system inspected by an HVAC professional to make sure everything is running optimally.
Help Your Allergies and Get Better Indoor Air Quality with The Unico System
If indoor air quality and reducing the number of allergens in your home is important to you, The Unico System is the best option. Unico is a small-duct high-velocity system that offers effective air distribution and an option for MERV 13 filters. Find a Unico contractor near you to learn more about the benefits it can bring to your home.
Did you know that in 2022 the price of electricity across the United States went up roughly 14%? With utility costs being subject to sudden shifts and increases, many homeowners are looking for ways to be more energy efficient. One of the best ways to achieve that goal in custom or older homes is by helping core appliances, like an HVAC system, use less energy.
While this might seem like a challenging problem to solve, there are proven ways to help your HVAC system be more energy efficient. Join the experts at The Unico System as we share five energy- saving tips for HVAC systems.
1. Use Fans to Help Circulate Air
In the summer, warm air rises and can get caught in a room. And in the winter, hot air often collects in the attic and near the upper floor ceilings, where no one is able to enjoy the comfort it should provide. Whether it’s hot or cold outside, using a fan to circulate air in your home will help move warm air throughout the space. This process helps create a more even temperature, which means your HVAC system doesn’t need to work as hard.
2. Be Sure to Change Your Air Filters
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, regularly changing the filter is one of the most important energy-saving tips for HVAC systems. In fact, replacing a dirty filter that is clogged with debris can make your unit 5% to 15% more energy efficient. Why is this the case? As dust, pet hair, pollen and other particles get caught in the filter, there comes a point where air can’t travel through it as effectively.
HVAC system filters should be checked at least once a month and replaced around every six months. You’ll also want to clean vents to prevent any accumulated dust finding its way to the filter.
3. Double Check Your Windows and Doors
Other than making sure your windows and doors are closed when your HVAC system is running, it’s important these access points have tight seals. Perform a quick test by running your hand through the seams of a door or window. If you feel any significant rushes of air coming through, it’s a sign that a tighter seal is needed. If air is leaking outside of the conditioned space, your HVAC unit needs to stay on longer to make up the difference.
4. Add Insulation to Your Attic, Basement and Crawl Space
The process of checking your home for drafts should also include the attic, basement and crawl space. Take a look at the current insulation and see if there are any gaps that need to be sealed with additional material. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that you can save roughly 15% of your HVAC energy costs by adding insulation to these core areas. Some common trouble areas usually include the rim joists in the basement and where support beams meet in the attic.
5. Keep Up with Routine HVAC Maintenance
All the energy-saving tips for HVAC systems we outlined above won’t be as effective without regular maintenance. Almost every HVAC system comes with instructions from the manufacturer on the steps you can take to keep up with regular maintenance that should be done roughly every six months. Some checklist items you can expect to find are often:
• Cleaning the drain lines of the unit and removing any clogs.
• Check the drain pans and be sure to get rid of any standing water.
• Make sure your thermostat accurately controls the HVAC unit.
• Get the system’s condenser and evaporator coils cleaned.
Save on Energy Costs with The Unico System
The Unico System is engineered for simplicity and air tightness within the ductwork to help your home become more energy efficient. With ducts that are one-third the surface area of traditional ductwork, you’ll see one-third less thermal loss. In fact, testing showed that The Unico System loses less than 5% of the air it delivers to rooms.
If you want optimal comfort for your home while saving on energy bills, The Unico System is the best choice. Find a Unico contractor near you to get started today.
ST. LOUIS (September 1, 2023)— Unico, Inc., the market leader in small-duct central heating and air conditioning systems, announced they will distribute Chiltrix air-to-water heat pumps throughout North America. “This joint venture will bring our customers the very best in indoor comfort and energy efficiency,” said Unico brand marketing manager Ashton Gavelek.
Chiltrix produces the CX35 and CX50 series of smart heat pumps, providing optimized heating performance and capacities ranging from 2.0 – 3.5 tons cooling, and 3.4 – 4.8 tons heating, making them ideally sized for residential applications. While traditional condensing units measure efficiency in SEER, air-to-water heat pumps measure efficiency using IPLV (Integrated Part Load Value), measuring equipment operating efficiency at various capacities. The CX35 has an IPLV of 23.27, and the CX50 has an IPLV of 21.2, ranking these units as the most efficient hydronic units available today.
Pairing Unico’s unique small duct system with a Chiltrix air-to-water heat pump will provide an unparalleled indoor comfort system for homes, pushing the boundaries of HVAC technology, comfort and efficiency. “For years our customers – HVAC distributors, contractors, and designers, builders, and owners of older or custom homes – have been looking for the best way to match the Unico System with the high efficiency of air-to-water heat pumps. There is no better hydronic match up than these Energy Star-awarded Chiltrix models,” adds Ms. Gavelek.
Unico provides design services to HVAC contractors, building professionals and homeowners, including plans and material lists for heating, air conditioning, ventilation, underfloor heating, domestic hot water, and radiant cooling. Unico also supports all installing contractors with comprehensive installation and operational training.
States Ms. Gavelek, “In the pursuit of Net Zero energy and the advancement of ‘Electric Home’ HVAC systems, our collaboration with Chiltrix takes residential HVAC comfort and efficiency to the next level and continues our commitment to provide the very best indoor comfort solutions on the market.”
About Unico Inc.
The Unico System is a small-duct central heating and air conditioning system manufactured by Unico Inc. Ideal for custom and new home construction, older home retrofits and historic preservation, as well as commercial applications, The Unico System takes less than one-third the space of a traditional HVAC system. Unico is an active member of the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, visit www.unicosystem.com.
To learn more about Chiltrix air-to-water heat pumps, visit the Chiltrix by Unico resource page HERE.