Written by Brad Crawford
If your Dallas home has a zoning system, then you can expect to not only save up to 30 percent off your energy bill, but also receive optimal comfort in every room of your home. That is because you are taking the central forced air system and making it more efficient by delivering conditioned air to rooms that need it and cutting it off to rooms that do not.
Okay, so you are wondering what a zoning system is how this is accomplished. Well first of all, consider what you already know. Your heat and AC come out of a main HVAC supply system, either in your basement, attic or a wall closet, and the conditioned air gets delivered through air ducts. The air ducts lead throughout your walls, ceiling and floors to deliver this conditioned air to each room simultaneously, cool or heat.
Many years ago, that was the genius invention known as central air. It made it so that conditioned air was not just blowing through a window unit in your living room, trying its best to reach your bedrooms while over-cooling or over-heating the family room in the process. It provided an insulated portal for the conditioned air to travel through so it can be delivered to each room at the same time.
But the problem we are running into now is that the central air unit is controlled by a single thermostat on a wall in the hallway and when that hallway is at the desired temperature, the unit turns off to all rooms at once. In the summer, some rooms get warmer than others because they are closer to an exterior wall or they are upstairs. Heat rises and your upstairs rooms catch all the heat from below. Reverse the scenario for winter and your downstairs and basement rooms stay uncomfortably cold.
So the next evolution in home climate control is zoning systems. They actually work much like the name sounds. They heat and cool in zones and shut off those zones when they are at the desired temperature. With a zoning system, you now have a thermostat in each room and it can tell your HVAC system if it needs to be cooler or warmer. It can keep your air running when your hallway is at the right temperature and not affect the temperature of other rooms.
Okay, so we already know what you’re thinking: “This is going to cost a fortune. I am going to have to buy multiple units to control this in each room and spend thousands of dollars just to make it work.”
Actually zoning systems are much more affordable and less complex than you think. For those of you who have already tried putting blankets over certain air vents to stop the thermostat from moving and keep the air running, this concept is a lot like that, only more controlled and with less manpower.
Zoning systems use dampers to control the flow of conditioned air. Dampers simply turn off the vent in a room that has reached its optimal temperature. Meanwhile the HVAC system stays running until other rooms with their thermostats have reached the desired setting. When other rooms reach the right temperature, their dampers close off as well. Eventually, the whole house will be at the desired temperature and the HVAC system shuts down until it is necessary to repeat the process. When it comes right down to it, zoning systems are about using your air wisely.
The best part about zoning systems is the fact that they actually have minimal effect on the way your house is setup, depending upon the system you choose to use. Thermostats in each room can connect to a main thermostat through wired or remote connections. Then it’s just a matter of installing your dampers and controls to them. All of this is done without cutting into the drywall since it is not necessary to replace or reroute any of the ductwork. Once you have the room temps set in the right place and the air routing parts installed, you are free to sit back in your recliner and enjoying your home.
Not only are you saving 30 percent off your HVAC energy costs, but you are biting into a huge chunk of your overall utility bill. Did you know that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 40 percent of your total household utility costs come from climate control systems? Do the math and you will quickly see how this benefits both your pocketbook and the overall longevity of your HVAC system – when the HVAC system is used more efficiently it tends to have a longer and more effective lifespan.