Zoned heating and cooling systems are the wave of the future. If you have a standard, central HVAC system in your Massachusetts home, your heater and air conditioner create a single, uniform temperature throughout the building. Central HVAC systems heat and cool rooms irrespective of occupancy or need. Although they have much to offer in terms of efficiency, they become far more efficient with zoning. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that homeowners could cut their heating costs by up to 35% with zoned heating. Read on to find out what zoned heating is and why you might need it.

HVAC Zoning vs. Vent Closures

For many years, consumers have simply toggled their HVAC air vents closed when they no longer wanted conditioned air in their immediate areas. Vent closures redirect conditioned air back into HVAC ducting. Unfortunately, although this has a short-term impact on residents’ comfort, it has a long-term effect on the health of HVAC systems. With nowhere to go, unwanted air causes a dramatic rise in static pressure within HVAC ducting. This increase can cause furnaces, ACs, and heat pumps to short cycle, overheat, or shut down.

In actuality, manual changes in air vent positions are best performed by experienced HVAC technicians. These professionals adjust vents to ensure optimum airflow throughout buildings when providing air balancing services. Closing vents off entirely is rarely done or recommended.

Zoning Redirects Unwanted Air Safely

HVAC zoning customizes the delivery of air throughout homes. However, it does so both safely and conveniently. With HVAC zoning, buildings are divided into separate service areas. Your home could have between one and four service areas or zones depending upon its layout and size and the preferences and needs of residents. Each service area in a zoned HVAC system has its own thermostat, which is controlled independently of the others.

HVAC zoning eliminates arguments over thermostat settings by allowing people to control temperatures in their rooms or other immediate locations. It also eliminates the need to heat areas of the building that no one is actively using. For instance, if you have college-age children who spend their winters on campus, with friends, or abroad, you can lower the thermostat settings in their zones so that these spaces are only getting enough heat to keep your pipes from freezing. In this way, zoning saves homeowners significant amounts of money. The DOE asserts that zoning could shave as much as 35% off the average homeowner’s energy bill.

How HVAC Systems Are Zoned

Zoning a home is a multi-pronged effort that requires several ductwork modifications, the installation of a central control system, and the installation of multiple smart thermostats. In addition to creating separate service areas, HVAC technicians must mitigate increased static pressure within ducting to limit system-wide stress.

Central Control Systems and Smart Thermostats

You can’t have a zoned HVAC system without upgrading to smart thermostats. Smart thermostats are compatible with central control units that coordinate the movements of air duct dampers, bypass dampers, and other mechanical elements.

Central control units receive signals from smart thermostats throughout the building and use them to open or close duct dampers. Opened duct dampers allow conditioned air to flow into rooms. When this air is no longer wanted or needed, these features seal shut, and conditioned air is routed away.

The Role of Bypass Ducts in Zoned Heating Systems

Bypass ducts are a common element for mitigating rises in static pressure. When duct dampers close to prevent warm air from entering a zone, nearby bypass ducts open to receive it.

The Benefits of HVAC Zoning

Zoning is an increasingly popular HVAC improvement, given the customized comfort it provides. Homeowners also love being able to cut their energy waste by redirecting conditioned air away from spaces with no one present to enjoy it. However, zoned HVAC systems can also increase the value and marketability of homes by modernizing them, increasing their efficiency, and providing more of the innovative amenities that buyers seek. With zoning, homeowners can also effectively reduce wear and tear on their HVAC equipment and extend the lifespans of these important appliances.

The Drawbacks of Zoning Your Heating System

Zoning is a winning choice for consumers and the natural environment. However, all HVAC improvements come with both benefits and drawbacks, and HVAC zoning is no exception. Zoned systems require more maintenance than standard, central HVAC systems do. After all, HVAC technicians must additionally inspect and maintain bypass ducts, duct dampers, central control systems, and multiple smart thermostats. Air balancing is also important. By running annual performance tests and providing air balancing services, we can ensure that static pressure isn’t mounting in your ducting and that your bypass ducts and dampers are working seamlessly together.

If you currently have integrated HVAC system accessories such as an air scrubber, air purifier, or dehumidifier, you’ll have to alter your indoor air quality plan to account for zoning. Given that HVAC ducting is divided into several zones or sections, features that are installed on or in HVAC air ducts can no longer serve all areas of the building.

In some households, installing zoned HVAC systems proves invasive. This may be the case if all of the ductwork that must be modified for zoning is hidden behind your drywall or other building features.

When Is HVAC Zoning a Good Idea?

HVAC zoning is an excellent choice for any home with lots of space to heat, multiple residents to accommodate, and constantly changing schedules. If you find that you’re often heating rooms that are empty just to get warm in a small, contained area, zoning is likely right for you. It’s a top choice in multi-story homes, particularly when all bedrooms are situated on the same level.

Enhance Your Home With Zoning Before Selling

If you’re looking for a worthwhile home improvement just before selling, zoning is a great way to increase the appeal of your listing. Not only will zoning add value to your property and give buyers a good reason to take a second look, but it will set your home apart from other comparable properties in the area that lack modern HVAC equipment.

The Role of Zoning in Smart HVAC Systems

If you’ve ever wondered what smart HVAC is, zoning plays a critical role in these advanced, learning, and highly convenient systems. Smart HVAC systems are zoned, governed by smart thermostats and central control devices, and controlled by branded apps and simple, easy-to-use consoles. You can integrate your smart HVAC system with other smart home features so that your smart blinds automatically close when the sun hits your windows and just before your AC turns on.

Smart HVAC systems use geo-fencing, sophisticated algorithms, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to save consumers money, reduce energy waste and energy consumption, monitor and improve indoor air quality, and ensure optimum levels of comfort and convenience. If you’re currently building a smart home, having your central HVAC system zoned will elevate your plans significantly.

We proudly serve communities throughout Massachusetts including Greater Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Milton, Watertown, Newton, Natick, Framingham, Quincy, Marlborough, Southborough, Worcester, and more. Our clients count on us for superior heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services. We also provide ductless mini-splits, insulation, air duct cleaning, and home energy assessments. Call Endless Energy today to find out more or schedule an appointment.

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