All rooms in your home aren’t always the same temperature at the same time, and all occupants don’t always agree on what’s comfortable. A zoning system can solve that by dividing your home into different temperature areas that are controlled by independent thermostats. Best of all, this can be done without replacing your existing HVAC system or adding an extra air conditioner or furnace.

Different Rooms, Different Comfort

Temperature variations within the same house happen for a variety of reasons. Heat always rises, so rooms on upper floors tend to be naturally warmer while rooms on the ground floor, or a basement, may feel chilly at the same time. High-ceiling rooms lose heat quickly and get cold, while rooms with significant solar exposure are frequently hard to keep cool. In many homes, there may be unused spaces like guest rooms where cooling or heating is only occasionally required.

Homes with a lot of square footage often offer the benefits of temperature zoning by simply incorporating multiple HVAC systems under the same roof. For the average residence, however, the expense of installing entirely separate ductwork and the operating costs of running extra heating and cooling is prohibitive. A zoning system allows you to accomplish much the same objective with far less expense and minimal installation inconvenience.

Zoning 101

Houses may be divided into two or more entirely separate temperature zones controlled by dedicated thermostats installed in those areas. Motorized dampers installed in the existing ductwork control the flow of air through branch ducts leading to individual rooms. These dampers are operated by a central controller that receives input from the thermostats located in each designated temperature zone.

When the thermostat in Zone A calls for cooling, for example, the controller closes the dampers in ducts leading to rooms that comprise Zone B and Zone C so cooling is directed only to Zone A. While Zone A is being cooled, if the thermostat in one of the other zones also requests cooling, the dampers leading to that zone are also opened by the controller.

As each zone reaches the temperature setting on its individual thermostat, the controller gradually closes the dampers leading to that zone, shutting off the flow of cool air.

When all zones have achieved their desired temperature setting, the air conditioner cycles off and the controller returns dampers leading to all rooms to the default open position until a signal for more cooling is received from another thermostat. The system distributes warm air from the central furnace in the same way for heating individual zones.

Zoning Benefits

By cooling and heating only specific areas of the home when needed, and only in the amount required to reach the thermostat setting in that independent zone, you will save energy. This is in contrast to the cost of conditioning the whole house when only one area actually needs it. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that installation of a zoning system can reduce cooling and heating costs by up to 40 percent. Savings can be further enhanced when programmable thermostats, instead of older manual adjustment models, are utilized in the zones to automate temperature adjustments.

In addition, a zoning system also provides the following advantages:

  • As the controller allocates conditioned air on an on-demand basis only, and to limited areas, reduced on and off cycling of the air conditioner and furnace also reduces wear and tear on the system and extends usable service life.
  • Areas of the home with predictable periods of low occupancy, such as bedrooms during daytime hours, can receive lower amounts of cooling or heating until the normal hours of use.
  • Occupants of different zones now have their own thermostat to suit individual preferences.

For more information on the benefits of a zoning system for your home, check out Pruett Air Conditioning’s HVAC solutions or call (478) 225-4921 in Warner Robins and (478) 298-4115 in Eastman.

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