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Does HVAC Zoning Really Save Money?

Homeowners are always looking for a way to cut their energy bills, but the wintertime is one of the most challenging times to do so. Just heating and cooling alone can send your energy bill into the stratosphere.

If you are looking for a way to control your system’s energy consumption, you may have heard of HVAC zoning. Does HVAC zoning save money?

By better managing heating and cooling, HVAC zoning can cut the costs by 20%, keeping your home comfortable. These systems allow you to regulate your house temperatures, giving you the power to dictate where the heated air goes. Your HVAC system works more efficiently and does not need to work as hard, saving on energy draw.

This sounds fantastic for a homeowner who knows how hard their systems can work in the summer and winter months.

However, if you are a first-time homeowner or someone who has not needed HVAC services yet, you may have some basic questions: “What is this HVAC zoning, and is it right for my home’s needs?”

How HVAC Zoning Saves Money?

All HVAC systems are designed to regulate your home’s temperature to keep you and fellow inhabitants comfortable.

With your average system, you set the desired temperature at the thermostat and the system kicking on when the interior is below that set number.

Once it reaches that number, your system kicks off and waits.

HVAC zoning, otherwise known as “zoned HVAC,” is a particular system that uses dampers in the ductwork to control the dispersal of heated or cooled air into rooms within your home.

The temperature of these rooms, or zones, is decided by you and managed by separate thermostats. One household can have anywhere from two to four or more zones.

When a particular zone is above or below the set thermostat number, it alerts your HVAC system that it needs air to adjust the temperature.

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Dampers adjust to allow the required air to travel to that particular section and prevent air from heating or cooling rooms that do not need it.

Since only the affected area is being treated, the HVAC system will stop once that room is done.

How Many Zones Can HVAC Zoning Support?

Some homes can require more comfort control than others. If your household consists of an upstairs and downstairs, you may consider only two zones.

If your home has guestrooms and foyers, you might consider more zones.

The average zoned system is typically set to the two-zone system; however, they can withstand as many zones as you need. 

Image Credit Zoningsupply.com

You may think two zones are perfectly acceptable for your home, but you do have individual rooms that you don’t use or that need their comfort level settings.

Every home is different and has different heating and cooling needs. 

If this is the case, talk to your HVAC contractor before installation to see what your best bet is. They can help advise you of your options and if a third system is essential.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that additional zones may have an additional cost.

This is due to the other equipment, segmenting of the ductwork, and whether it’s new construction or existing home retrofit.

While the costs may get higher as more zones are added, the value saved in energy usage is worth it over time. 

On top of that, everyone in your home will be able to maintain their comfort level, allowing residents and visitors peace of mind.

So what are the many benefits you can expect from HVAC zoning?

Additional Benefits to Zoned Systems

The bottom line on everyone’s mind is, “what is this type of system going to do for me?”

The fact is you deserve quality from any heater and air conditioner you install. There are many concerns they should tackle, but not many do.

Zoned HVAC systems can help you with all of the following:

  • Comfort Control In Your Home
  • Reduced Dander and Allergens
  • Energy Savings
  • System Longevity

With your home set into different zones, you guarantee no more bickering over the set temperature.

Other people have different comfort zones, and HVAC zoning allows them to have just that. 

This system is run by multiple thermostats, which means each zone can be adjusted to meet the occupant’s needs.

A big problem many people run into with standard HVAC is that dander, allergens, and dust can travel through the ductwork to every room, spreading low air quality. 

HVAC zoning’s dampers prevent this since not every room requires air all at the same time. This is great for people who experience allergies or asthma. 

Finally, the zoned HVAC system saves you money! According to The US Department of Energy, zoned systems can accrue energy savings of anywhere from thirty to thirty-five percent.

On top of that, as this system works smarter, not harder, it can last a long time due to not getting as much wear and tear as standard HVAC systems. 

Do You Have to Get a New System to Save Money by Zoning?

The last thing you want to do is start one project to learn that it is a whole different, more extensive project.

While HVAC zoning is a fantastic choice for a home, will you have to expect a full new system installation? The answer in plain terms is, “Not necessarily.” 

New construction and installation may be simpler in the long run. Since it is a brand new property, your zones can be determined and set up before you even get into the home. 

You won’t have to wait on a long retrofitting process. However, this does not mean it cannot be done to an already built home. 

If you have a pre-existing home with a pre-existing HVAC system, it is best to ask your HVAC contractor if your system can handle zoning.

There is a specifically required capacity that your heating and cooling needs to address the multiple thermostats’ demands.

Without this capacity, it may not be feasible to retrofit. 

However, if it can handle the capacity, your HVAC contractor may be able to get started.

From there, they will need to install the proper components to convert your system. This includes thermostats, dampeners, sensors, and more. 

Why Not Just Get Two HVAC Systems?

While it may seem like the most straightforward option, getting two HVAC systems is not your best bet in keeping your home comfortable.

All heating and cooling systems are built to manage a specific size of home or property. 

Getting two of them will not cause a zoning effect but may reduce the efficiency of both systems. 

If you get two of the same size, both will compete to react when the thermostats alert them of changing temperatures.

Remember that both systems are reading the same overall environment, even if there are two thermostats and separate floors.

This will cause extra power draw when both go to correct a temperature issue.

Similarly, if you get one smaller, you could create a power vacuum.

The smaller system is reacting to its thermostat but may be unable to cover the whole allotted space.

The bigger system will want to compensate, creating not just power draw but inadequate climate control.

This can leave you with a large bill and an uncomfortable home.

This rule is an exception if you have a separate living space, such as a guest house or a live-in garage space.

At that point, it may be more feasible to add an HVAC unit to cover the separate living area and give climate control to the resident. 

Is HVAC Zoning Right For Me?

Choosing a different heating and cooling system or set up can be difficult, as it is not something we have to think of every day.

While zoning sounds like a great idea, is it the right one to add to your home? When it comes down to it, HVAC zoning can help in several situations, such as: 

  • Multi-family Home
  • Multi-level Home
  • Air B&B
  • Guest Rooms
  • Unfrequented Living Spaces
  • Unevenly heated/cooled living space

In these instances, an HVAC zoned system will allow you to either reduce temperatures in areas you will not be in or enable people to set their comfort level.

You can rely on these systems to last longer than an average HVAC as it will not need to work as often or experience similar expected wear. 

Zoned HVAC can significantly benefit your property all year round, in both hot and cold weather.

Whether you offer rooms out in your home to guests or you want your family to maintain their comfort, HVAC zoning can help you reach your goal.

It provides peace of mind while also allowing you to save extra on your energy bills.

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