Ask Dirk: What is a zoned HVAC system?
Zoned air systems divide sections of your home into different areas or zones, which are then each controlled by separate thermostats. In contrast, a standard heating system treats your home with all of its rooms as a single area and is controlled by a single thermostat. Based on your home’s size, floor plan and level of comfort desired, either option could be a good fit for your family.
Here are some benefits of zoning:
Assuming everything is working correctly, a home with a standard heating and cooling system will bring the entire space to roughly the same temperature. But what if your home is multi-storied or has one side that gets more sun than the other?
With a zoned system, you have control of your zones and their individual temperatures.
Because heat rises, a two-story home will usually have a warmer upstairs than downstairs—especially in the summertime. Placing a zone on each floor could allow you to set different temperatures on both levels, meaning you wouldn’t need to over-cool the downstairs to maintain a bearable temperature upstairs.
It would work similarly in a home with an east/west orientation that gets a full day of sun on the south side of the home and none at all on the north side. Naturally, the south side would need more cooling in the summer and less heating in the winter. A zoned system could help balance the needs in both seasons.
Because you can control the temperatures in each zone, you’re not wasting energy to heat or cool all of your space endlessly. Instead, your system is working more efficiently, saving energy and potentially reducing your utility bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners can save up to 30 percent on their heating and cooling bills.
How does zoning work?
A zoned air system relies on a network of electric dampers within your ducts to open and close to deliver air to the desired areas. Depending on the set temperature in each zone, these dampers will open and close as needed to reach and maintain the climate.
Zoning a home with a standard system already installed can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. If it’s something you’re interested in, give your trusted HVAC professional a call and they can walk you through your options and the installation process.