zoning systemsKeeping your entire home comfortable and trimming energy bills are the most significant zoning system benefits homeowners reap when they zone their homes. A zoned home is divided into separate areas based on different needs for cooling and heating. Without zoning, temperatures can vary widely throughout the home based on a room’s orientation to the sun, level in the house, and a host of other factors.

Homes that have the same conditioning requirements throughout the structure are rare. A house has exposure in all directions to the sun and wind that can make a difference in temperatures throughout the day. A living area that faces south may be cozy in the winter, but exceptionally warm in the summer.

How They Work

These systems work by opening and closing motorized dampers inside the ducts based on the particular zone’s need for conditioning. Each zone has its own thermostat that connects to a central control panel. The control panel sends a signal to the HVAC system, which turns it on and off in a room or zone based on the thermostat’s settings. At the end of the cycle, the dampers close and won’t reopen until the thermostat triggers the control panel again.

Suitability

Homes that have any of these characteristics are appropriate candidates for a zoning system:

  • Homes with two or more stories
  • Homes with finished basements
  • Those with unused areas
  • Homes with large expanses of windows, especially on the south or west sides
  • Sprawling homes
  • Families whose members have different temperature preferences
  • Homes with raised ceiling plates or vaults in some of the rooms
  • Homes with finished, livable areas in an attic or over the garage

Benefits of Zoning Systems

  • Energy savings. Since a zoning system only provides conditioned air to the areas that need it, it won’t use as much energy as a single zoned home. This cuts cooling and heating bills.
  • Increased comfort. An evenly comfortable home could be one of the most important zoning system benefits. During the cooling season, rooms that have south and western exposure are typically much warmer. Setting the thermostat to accommodate the extra heat gain can overly cool the rest of the home and drive up energy consumption. Multi-story homes are particularly hard to keep comfortable, especially in the summer as the heat in the attic builds and heat in the home rises to the upper floors. Most two-story homes have the bedrooms placed upstairs, and keeping them comfortable at night without over-chilling the downstairs is easy with a zoning system. Kitchen and family rooms are another area where heat tends to build faster than other areas in the home.
  • Quiet operation. The HVAC system won’t need to run at top speed each time it turns on, which quiets its operation. Anyone whose bedroom is near the air handler will appreciate a lower noise level when the system does turn on.
  • Effortless operation. When you combine a zoning system with programmable thermostats in each zone, you won’t have to remember to turn them up or down based on when you use that space. Combining a system with WiFi thermostats gives you remote control over the temperatures in each zone of the home. If you won’t arrive home until later than you planned, you can simply delay the time the system turns on.
  • Prolong system life. Any HVAC system that doesn’t have to operate at full speed will last longer, since there’s less stress on the components.

Installation

The easiest way to reap zoning system benefits is with a new heating and cooling system designed for zoning. However, the systems can be installed in retrofit situations. Dampers are available for standard ductwork sizes. Your HVAC contractor can show you the options available that will work with your system, its ductwork configuration and your home’s floor-plan layout.

If you’d like to learn more about zoning system benefits, contact the NATE-certified professionals at Air Specialty. We’ve provided superior HVAC services for homeowners in the Mobile, Ala., Saraland, Ala., and Lucedale, Miss., areas since 1993.

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