Anyone who has ever owned a home knows that it’s possible to go from chilly to warm just by walking from one room to the other. Factors like direct sunlight, drafty windows, outdated equipment, and poor ventilation all affect the climate of a building, making it difficult to cool on a hot day or warm on a cold day. Since heating and cooling can account for up to half of the energy use of a typical home, an outdated HVAC system can rapidly drive up the cost of a comfortable temperature. This means that installing a new HVAC system could pay for itself in a relatively short time by cutting down on the cost of electricity.
Zoning Increases Efficiency
Relying on a single heating or cooling unit for an entire building represents a particularly wasteful enterprise. Zoning is one way to increase energy efficiency and reduce utility bills, as zoned HVAC systems allow owners to break down the geography of a building to provide heating and cooling solutions for individual floors, or even individual rooms, rather than trying to heat or cool the entire building with only one temperature control panel. An HVAC-zoned house will typically have multiple thermostats to maintain separate temperatures, pumping more cool air to hotter floors or rooms instead of unnecessarily heating or cooling the entire building. This makes it easier to maintain a desired temperature in individual areas and minimize energy usage.
How Does a Zoning System Work?
A typical zoning system will have dampers, a control panel, and a temperature controller for each zone. These components work together to control which areas of the building receive warm or cool air.
- Dampers: Installed in the ductwork of the building, dampers control how much air can pass through the ductwork at a time. Dampers can be placed wherever the ductwork is most accessible: the trunk, the branches, or the boot. Rather than manually shutting a vent, which still allows the heated or cooled air to travel the length of the duct and remain, settling to room temperature, trunk and branch dampers reroute the airflow to direct it to where it’s needed most; boot-loading dampers work similarly to vents but open and close automatically to keep the zone at a comfortable temperature. Dampers maintain pressure in the duct and redistribute the airflow to areas of the building for which it is intended.
- Control Panel: When a temperature is set via the temperature controller, or thermostat, the control panel opens and/or closed the appropriate dampers.
- Temperature Controller: A zoned HVAC system usually has multiple temperature controllers, or thermostats, to maintain desired temperatures throughout the various areas of the building.
Financial Savings for Individuals and Businesses
High energy bills will cost a homeowner far more in the long run than a new HVAC system relying on a zoned interface to cool separate parts. Zoning transfers warm or cool air across individual rooms rather than expending energy to bring an entire building to the desired temperature and can reduce heating and cooling bills by as much as 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Given that heating and cooling accounts for a major portion of American families’ utility bills, the financial benefits of zoning interfaces offer significant savings for individuals as well as businesses.
Monica Gomez is a freelance clean energy writer and encourages people go green to help the environment. She has written for HVAC, energy, and green sites such as HVAC Web Connections, HVAC Jobs Report, and MrHVAC.com