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Zoning Systems Allow Homeowners to Control Indoor Temps Efficiently

Published on: December 16, 2013

Almost all heating and cooling systems in the Southeast U.S. use heat pumps or central air conditioners and furnaces that are easy to adapt for zoning systems. A central air handler blows the heated or cooled air through a network of ducts to heat and cool each area of your home. However, not all parts of your home need the same amount of conditioning, which makes a zoning system an attractive way to manage indoor temperatures and control energy usage.

Homes that are suitable for zoning include sprawling ranch homes and two- or three-story homes, or those whose occupants don’t use some of the rooms very much. Homes with high ceilings in one area could have different conditioning requirements, or those with large windows in a particular space, especially in south- and west-facing rooms. Another reason to zone a home includes its orientation to the sun.

Since the climate in the Southeast is warm to hot in the summer, a zoning system will boost the cooling in areas that have greater sun exposure and consequently, higher temperatures. Rooms that face south and west can be much warmer than those on the northern and eastern sides of a home, and if you’re setting the thermostat to keep the rooms comfortable with greater solar exposure, your cooling bills will be higher than they need to be. If those hot rooms are bedrooms you use only at night, you can set the thermostat to cool them down just before retiring at night. This way your energy savings will be even higher.

Benefits of Zoning Systems Include:

  • Greater comfort. In rooms that are either too cold or hot, while the rest of the home is comfortable, a zoning system will redirect the conditioned air to those rooms. In two-story homes, the upstairs is usually warmer in the winter and summer than the downstairs, since heat rises. A zoning system will even out the temperatures, increasing everyone’s comfort.
  • Better energy efficiency. Instead of conditioning your entire home, the system will heat or cool only those rooms that need it. It isn’t likely that all the zones in your home need conditioning at once. These systems employ technology that adjusts the airflow based on how much conditioning is needed, which almost always saves energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has studied zoning systems combined with programmable thermostats and found that homeowners can save up to 30 percent on their conditioning bills, a significant savings.
  • Longer HVAC system life. Since the system doesn’t run on high continually, it prolongs the life of your HVAC equipment.
  • Quieter operation. When the system doesn’t need to condition all the spaces in your home at once, it runs more quietly.

How They Work

Zoning systems use individual thermostats in each zone and dampers in the ductwork that automatically open and close based on the heating or cooling needs of a particular zone. The thermostats tie into a central unit. You can set each thermostat differently based on the occupants’ preferences or your usage of that space.

When the thermostat calls for heating or cooling in a particular space, the system starts and supplies conditioned air to just that zone. The other dampers stay closed. Should more than one zone need conditioning, the heating or cooling system will ramp up higher to provide more conditioned air. HVAC contractors can install zoning systems when they’re putting in new HVAC equipment, or install the dampers and thermostats in existing systems that don’t need replacing.

Maintenance

Your HVAC system needs regular maintenance to keep it running most efficiently, and the zoning system may need attention periodically, as well. However, the energy savings you receive from a zoned home will more than make up for the costs associated with the professional services from an HVAC contractor, especially if you achieve the 30 percent savings the DOE has found are possible by zoning your home.

To learn more about zoning systems for your home, please contact AirConditioningSoutheast.com to find a contractor in your area today.