Zoning solutions to save energy and increase comfort.
Zone heating is a simple concept. Break your home up into chunks so that your heating system spends energy only in the rooms you choose. Most often, homes are zoned for each floor, but more concentrated zoning that divides your most common living areas from other parts of the home can improve energy efficiency. But will the savings pay for the cost of installation?
Start from Where You Are
The answer to this question is different for every home. In new home construction, the added cost to install extra zones is simpler. You should have already chosen a furnace with more than enough capacity for the square footage. Now you simply need to pay for plan changes and added ductwork.
In an existing home, concentrating heat in the rooms you occupy most gets a little more complex. For instance, adding a propane log in the living room only works under limited situations. In larger families, the heating needs can differ among many parts of the home.
Problems Solved by Zoning Systems
A home office with computers is one example of complex zoning needs. Computers can generate a lot of heat. The kitchen is another good example. These rooms are naturally warmer than the rest of the house and keeping them comfortable without making others too cool is a challenge.
Zoning your home can fix other heating and cooling problems as well. For instance, the sunny side of the house may be habitually too warm. Zoning can send less heat to those areas during sunlight hours. A zoning system may also be a way to gain capacity from a heating system. When energy is used only in the rooms calling for heat, the system can run for shorter periods.
Zoning in Forced Air Systems
In the past, highly controlled zoning was possible only when using electrical baseboard heating. New technologies achieve it in a forced air system using thermostats and dampers. But poorly designed or installed systems can damage ductwork with excessive static pressure or damage fans when static pressure is chronically low.
One common method of balancing pressure is to use bypass ducts that redirect air when a damper is closed. But bypass ducts are inefficient and many other designs can achieve the same result. With new laws such as those in California outlawing bypass ducts in new systems, we are likely to see alternative designs available more often.
The estimated cost savings for zoning is 30 percent of your heating and cooling bill. This is a handy measure to use in budgeting for changes. Your home’s needs will determine the cost of upgrades. You may find you need added heat in the living room and less heat in the home’s office and kitchen. You can add two zones to the existing first floor zone, saving wasted energy and increasing comfort in those rooms.
Consult with MM Comfort Systems on Adding Zoning to Your Home
MM Comfort Systems has more than 30 years’ experience helping homeowners choose the right heating and cooling options and keeping them running smoothly. Call us at 425.533.9058 or use our online contact form to set up a free zoning options consultation.