Recognizing Zoning Opportunities: How to Sell Zoning

How do you sell zoning? It’s a question we hear from contractors often. HVAC contractors know that zoning is a great solution, but they’re wondering how to sell it. We’ll share all of our tips in this blog, including strategies that work for our most active contractors. Learn the signs to look for, and you’ll see more zoning possibilities around you. We’ll also explain what to do with those opportunities once you find them.

Watch our webinar: Recognizing Zoning Opportunities

What Motivates Someone to Invest in Zoning?

The first question to answer is “why?” Why would someone pay for zoning their home or building? What’s the purpose of zoning? When we talk about zoning, we’re talking about selling comfort. Clients probably don’t know that it’s possible to fix their comfort issues. Zoning can bring their indoor worlds to a comfort level they didn’t know was possible. The good news here is that everyone wants comfort. Our customers might not need comfort, but they want to be comfortable. And zoning is a great way of improving comfort in every area of the house with a single, central system. If there’s an existing forced air system and existing ductwork, you can further optimize that system by zoning it. You can enhance your clients’ comfort significantly through zoning.

Getting to Know Customers

When we want to talk to our customers about zoning, we need to start by getting to know them. Be willing to have conversations with customers. Try to learn more about what they want, and what the problem spots in their homes are. Customers are going to tell you what they want. You just have to be listening for it. This is the first step in learning how to sell zoning.

Getting to know your customers makes it easier to start offering improvements to their homes in a variety of areas, from energy efficiency to improved comfort, indoor air quality, and more. Zoning is a comfort improvement, but it also saves energy. How? With zoning, we’re not conditioning the entire home as a whole. Clients save on energy costs by only conditioning the places that need it.

Identifying Opportunities for Zoning

The next step in how to sell zoning is finding opportunities out there. How can you identify these opportunities for zoning? Look for problem areas that can be solved by zoning. We’ll go into detail on several of these common comfort issues.

Load Diversity

The sun rises on one side of the home, and it sets on the other side of the home. As the sun moves around the house, that load shifts. The areas on different sides of the home will have different conditioning requirements, and that makes zoning a great solution. Zoning can focus the conditioning on the areas that need it, and avoid over-conditioning areas that don’t.

Remote Zones

One popular example of a remote zone is a bonus room over the garage. That area may not have adequate ductwork, and the equipment may not be sized to handle the additional load. Instead of upsizing the equipment for that area, we can use zoning to redirect the BTUs from other parts of the home that don’t need it. Zoning can effectively condition areas like this that are in remote locations.

Usage Patterns

When you’re getting to know your customers, asking about usage patterns is super important. When is the building empty? Commercial buildings are often empty all night. Homes may be empty all day, or someone may be working from home. Also find out which rooms aren’t being used much. Are your clients empty nesters with some unused bedrooms? Is it an office building that rarely uses the conference room? Zoning allows you to condition only the areas that are currently being used. Clients can save energy by not conditioning areas when they are not in use.

Conditioning Requirements

Different people may have different preferences. There’s even a term for that: the thermostat wars. Instead of changing the thermostat all day long, why not condition different spaces differently, so everyone gets what they want? Zoning can give your customers more precise control over the temperature of different areas, so they can be comfortable even if they live or work with someone who wants a different temp.

Hot and Cold Spots

How often do you walk into a home where it’s 5, 8, or even 10 degrees hotter upstairs than it is on the main floor of the home? Usually the thermostat is on the main floor, but the bedrooms are upstairs. The customer is complaining that they have to set their thermostat at 65 degrees so they can sleep comfortably on the second floor. This is a perfect opportunity for zoning. They can have a separate thermostat on the second floor, and keep both spaces comfortable. At the same time, they’re going to be happy to avoid over-conditioning the main floor. No one wants to waste energy making a space uncomfortable.

Inefficiencies in the System

Sometimes ductwork is not designed to distribute the airflow properly. In these cases, a little extra control goes a long way. Zoning can help direct airflow to the places it’s needed, improving an inefficient system. That being said, zoning still requires some ductwork capabilities. If we don’t have the ductwork to serve the zone, zoning’s not going to fix that. But if the ductwork’s there, zoning can optimize it. Here’s how to evaluate ductwork for zoning.

Asking Customers the Right Questions

When you’re considering how to sell zoning, showing that you care about your clients’ comfort is one of the most important parts. Find out how they’re using the building, where their comfort issues are, and if energy savings is a priority for them. If you’re in the home or building for maintenance checks, just having a casual conversation will get you the information you need. It is more difficult if you’re there for a sales presentation, and don’t already have a relationship with the client. Still, asking these questions shows the customer that you really care about what they want. Show them you’re not there just to sell them a piece of equipment. You want to ensure they get the comfort, energy savings, and temperature control that they want.

You can also use tools like our zoning explainer video and our homeowner answerbook to help explain how zoning works.

Examples of Zoning Opportunities

In addition to getting to know what your customer needs, you can also tell a lot about a zoning opportunity from the curb. Here are some examples of homes and commercial buildings with zoning opportunities.

Zoning Opportunity #1

Zoning Opportunity 1

The first thing to notice about this house is that it’s a brick home. As the sun moves around the house, different areas of the house may experience thermal gain as the brick absorbs the heat. Dividing these areas into separate zones will direct conditioning to the areas that need it, avoiding over-conditioning in areas that do not. The second floor has a lot of roofline, and will probably need to be a separate zone. If there’s a basement, it will be damp but cool, requiring dehumidification but not cooling. So the basement will be a fourth zone.

Zoning Opportunity #2

Zoning Opportunity 2

This house looks like it has had several additions. It probably has multiple furnaces. There are at least 3 floors, lots of glass, and some remote zones. Even if it has multiple furnaces, a home like this could benefit from a zoning system. Zoning could condition the main floor and the upstairs independently. The glass exposure in the central part of the home will make that area difficult to condition, so splitting it up into zones would be ideal. At the far end of the home, there seems to be a bonus area. That area could use its own conditioning because it will have different requirements than the other parts of the home. There’s a lot of potential for load changes and load shifts in this house, so zoning would be a very effective solution.

Customer Knows Best

These are all opportunities that you can see from the street. But as you start talking to the customer, you can find out where their trouble spots really are. Then you can offer them solutions for those specific comfort issues.

Making a Zoning Recommendation

If you’re still wondering how to sell zoning, you need to know that making the recommendation is key. As you put your customer’s usage patterns, comfort requirements, and load diversity together into a zoning recommendation, there are a few important things to consider. You’ll want to group spaces that have similar comfort patterns, so you can avoid tiny zones. Separating spaces according to usage is important, too: keep spaces that are frequently used separate from spaces that are infrequently used. And finally, take note of the ductwork layout and any load diversity issues.

Group Spaces with Similar Comfort Patterns

Look at similar usage patterns, and build your zones with that in mind. Typically, the living room, dining room, and kitchen are used at the same times of day. Group those together as one zone. Bedrooms are also usually used at the same times, so they can also be a group zone. So as you separate zones, like east and west, or upstairs and downstairs, make sure you’re also pairing up areas that can be paired. That will help you avoid the problem of micro-zoning.

Separate Spaces by Usage

Just like you want to group spaces that are similar, you also need to separate spaces that are different. Be sure that spaces your clients frequently use are separated from spaces that they use infrequently.

Take Note of the Ductwork Layout

Think about (and ask about) whether your clients are likely to finish parts of the building in the future, burying ductwork. If this is the case, you might need to install more accessible dampers like EzyFit® insertable dampers or RegiDamper® register dampers.

Look for Load Diversity Issues

Think about the load diversity issues the building will experience throughout the year. The sun rises on one side and sets on the other. There could be appliances or a server room that generate a lot of heat. Think about satisfying these load requirements so that every area is comfortable.

Residential Zoning Opportunities

There’s a lot of opportunity out there. Finding them is an important step in discovering how to sell zoning more effectively. In multi-level homes, people often complain that the upstairs is hotter than the main floor. Many homes have a remote area like a bonus room, with its own distinct requirements. Glass exposure and cathedral ceilings create areas that are more difficult to condition.

Zoning improves the velocity of the airflow, which helps to de-stratify the air in larger, tall-ceiling areas. It can resolve issues with inadequate ductwork by increasing the BTUs delivered in a specific area. Finally, zoning can correct a variety of comfort issues by giving customers more control over the conditioning in specific areas.

Look for these residential zoning opportunities:

  • Multi-level homes
  • Bonus rooms
  • Additions
  • Finished basements
  • Cathedral ceilings
  • Glass exposure
  • Inadequate ductwork

Commercial Zoning Opportunities

Commercial spaces are also a great application for zoning. When you’re thinking about how to sell zoning, don’t leave out potential commercial applications. Retail environments have different conditioning requirements on the sales floor than in the offices. Restaurants have different needs in the kitchen than in the dining room. Office space often includes glass exposure that makes some areas too hot in the summer, while interior areas with less glass are freezing to compensate. Make these areas separate zones, and your customers can get the right level of conditioning for every part of their business.

Why Choose Arzel?

Now you know how to identify zoning opportunities, and how to create a zoning layout that works for your customer. Why should you choose Arzel Zoning? Arzel takes less time to install. If the ductwork is pre-existing, Arzel’s cut-in dampers are extremely quick. There’s very little electrical wiring to deal with. The air tubing that powers Arzel dampers is simple to install: just cut it to length, and slide it on the dampers. Arzel Zoning is proud to offer an industry-leading warranty to top it all off. Finally, our excellent technical support is available when you have questions about how to design a job, or anything else. Give us a call at 800-611-8312.

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