Is a Zoned HVAC System Right for My Home?

Is a Zoned HVAC System Right for My Home?One of the most cost-effective innovations in the HVAC industry is the development of zoned heating and cooling systems. With zoning technology, you distribute heated or cooled air only to where it is needed the most. Since little or none of it is wasted in lightly-used or unoccupied areas, overall energy consumption is reduced.

Could a zoned HVAC system be right for you? Let’s look at HVAC zoning principles a little more closely to help you answer that question.

What is HVAC Zoning?

A centralized HVAC system is connected to the rooms in your house by a network of ducts. Your ductwork will feature registers in most rooms or hallways, to ensure even distribution of heated and cooled air throughout the home. Manual operation can control the direction of air flow somewhat, but opening or closing registers manually does not ensure efficient or effective HVAC equipment functioning.

With a zoned system, rooms or specifically designated areas of a home are controlled by separate thermostats. Temperatures can be customized for each location, based on occupancy habits or other factors.

Thermostats in this case will control the activity of a series of internal dampers. These will shut on or off automatically to direct air flow from the heating and cooling system to areas where temperature modification is required.

HCAC zoning systems do not require multiple air conditioners or furnaces to function. Such a system is designed to reduce the workload of your furnace or air conditioner by reducing the square footage it is expected to heat or cool at any given time.

Pros of Zoned HVAC Systems

The advantages of an HVAC zoning systems include:

  • Ultimate comfort control.
    With typical zoned technology, you can create up to four temperature-controlled regions in your home, with no loss of operating efficiency.
  • Customized performance.
    Room temperatures can be set based on the preferences of various family members or home occupants, and no energy is wasted on unoccupied areas.
  • Financial savings.
    The U.S. Department of Energy reports that homeowners can save up to 30 percent on their energy bills by installing a zoned HVAC system. Repair bills will decline and HVAC equipment will have a longer lifespan, thanks to the reduced load on the system.
  • Improved air quality.
    You’ll no longer be distributing air throughout the entire home at an equal rate, giving your HVAC air filter a more manageable workload as it removes contaminants passing through.
  • Elimination of hot and cold spots.
    Relying on a single thermostat to determine conditions in the entire home will inevitably lead to having rooms that are either too hot and some too cold. This is especially true when temperatures are more extreme outside.

Cons of Zoned HVAC Systems

HVAC zoning systems do have some specific technical requirements that you can’t afford to ignore.

First of all, zoning requires compatible equipment. Zoned HVAC systems are designed to be used with two-stage or variable-capacity furnaces and air conditioners. This equipment usually operates at about two-thirds capacity when set on low, and at 100 percent capacity when set on high. The advantage of a zoned system is that it allows you to keep HVAC equipment at a lower setting much more frequently, thereby saving you quite a bit of money during normal operations.

Zoning won’t save energy if you have a single-stage system, which will operate on full blast every time you turn it on. When you distribute air in a single-stage system unevenly, it will create inefficiencies that can lead to short cycling (the furnace or air conditioner turns on and off too fast) and more rapid equipment breakdown. Because you don’t have a “low” setting, energy savings are extremely limited if you combine zoning with single-stage technology.

One other limitation of HVAC zoning is that it won’t function efficiently if you include bypass dampers and ducts. Unfortunately, some installers add them to zoned systems, believing they improve system performance when in fact they do the opposite. Zoned systems are inherently efficient and will operate much better without the extra “help.”

Is a Zoning System Right for Your Home?

Zoning is generally unnecessary for smaller homes, or for those that are located in moderate climates without dramatic temperature swings between seasons.

But they can be real money savers if you have a home with multiple stories, especially if some areas are occupied infrequently or used strictly for storage. If you find yourself involved in frequent arguments with other family members about thermostat settings, that is another sign that you could use a zoned HVAC system.

To convert an existing system to HVAC zoning, you investment may run in the $2,000 to $3,500 range, depending on how many zones you need. But your monthly savings on utility bills will be significant enough to cover that investment in a few short years.

Get in the Zone with ABE Heating and Cooling

Zoned HVAC systems can save you money, and that is something they have in common with ABE Heating and Cooling. Rely on us to handle all your heating and cooling system needs, and you’ll never come away disappointed with the quality or affordability of our services. We are located in Brighton, Colorado and serve the entire Denver Metro Area, and we invite you to contact us today to learn more about the wonders of HVAC zoning technology.