Multi-zone heating and cooling is the latest trend in HVAC. Zoning offers several important benefits, including energy savings over time. Still, it may not be for everyone. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.
What is Multi-Zone Heating and Cooling
Smart technology has gotten a lot of buzz in recent years for its ability to make programming your thermostat easy and convenient. The advantage is only paying for energy you need, based on preferences and lifestyle. (For example, in winter you can set lower temperatures when you are at work and warmer temperatures when you are home.) Multi-zone heating and cooling takes that control to the next level by also allowing you to set different temperatures in different areas of the house. Depending on the layout of your home and how many zones you create, this can accommodate, to some extent, temperature preferences for individual family members. More commonly, zoning is used to adjust temperatures based on how you use different areas of the home. (Bedrooms stay cooler, while the kitchen and family room are warmer.)
Zones are created with a series of baffles that direct heated or cooled air to the rooms in the home that require it. Each zone is controlled by its own thermostat. Most homes that use zoning have two or three separate zones.
Energy savings are realized because your system isn’t heating and cooling all areas of your home equally. Rooms or spaces that are used infrequently, such as guest rooms or storage areas, don’t need to be the same temperature as the rest of the house. With zoning, you save energy in those spaces.
Zoning offers several important benefits.
- Enhanced comfort. By controlling the temperature of your home not only by time and day of the week but also by zone, you ensure a greater level of comfort in the spaces that are used the most.
- Cost savings. Because you are heating and cooling your home more efficiently, you aren’t paying for wasted energy. Over time, that can mean significant savings on energy bills.
- Energy savings. Less energy used is good for your bottom line and also for the environment.
- Convenience. Most zoning systems can be controlled from where you are (via remote control or a connected device). You don’t even have to walk over to the thermostat.
Zoning also has some drawbacks.
- Increased installation cost.
More equipment must be installed including a more complex duct system, which means higher upfront costs. This is true whether you are installing a system in a brand new home, or converting an existing central heating and cooling setup.
- More equipment that can break down.
More moving parts mean more things that can break down and need to be maintained.
- No backup option or hot/cold ability.
If the system fails, there is no backup, and there is no ability to cool one room while heating another. The entire system must be set to either heat or cool.