72 Degrees of Hickory Blog

72 Degrees of Hickory Blog

72 Degrees of Hickory Blog

Zoning in on Cold Weather Comfort

Matthew Stewart - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Is your family avoiding spending time in your basement living area because it’s just too cold?  

Are you cranking up the thermostat to make your vaulted family room warmer, only to retire to a stifling bedroom that night?

Do you want to cut costs on your heating bills?

Then you may want to think about zoning.

Some home designs make it tough for a traditional heating system to work efficiently. Maybe you have a game room above your garage, a bathroom above a cold crawl space, or bedrooms on separate floors. It’s impossible to heat all of these areas evenly, and if you’re trying to do so, you may be throwing money out the window.

How does a zoning system work?

The zoning system allows your furnace to heat only the areas that need it—allowing you to enjoy more comfortable temperatures throughout your home.

Let’s say your family likes to spend most of its time in the basement. Instead of heating the entire main floor while trying to stay warm downstairs, zoning would let you set the basement temperature to 70 while keeping the main floor at 60. When you get ready to go up, you can raise the main floor temperature and lower the basement. That way, you’re not paying to heat the areas you’re not using.

A zoning system consists of a control, automatic motorized dampers and temperature sensors that work with your heating system. The dampers are placed inside the supply ducts to control the airflow to specific areas of your home. The temperature sensors are located in the separate zones of your home. It’s similar to having a separate thermostat in each area communicating with your heating system—allowing each zone to be heated independently.

When you request that any of the zones be heated, the thermostat signals your heating system. The zone control determines which zones need heating based on the temperature sensors in each zone. The dampers are automatically closed in the supply lines to those zones which do not need heating and opened in those that do need heating.

How much can I save?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, system zoning can save homeowners up to 30 percent on a typical heating and cooling bill. Considering that heating and cooling account for 40 percent of the average household's utility costs, this amount of savings can add up to a lot. Because guest rooms and other seldom-used rooms don't need to be heated constantly, system zoning lets you save money by heating those rooms only when necessary.

Will I need to do major reconstruction on my home?

No. Typically, a zoning system can be installed within a day or two and will not require any reconstruction of drywall or changing your heating and air conditioning system. The dampers will slide into what you already have for duct work, and your contractor will set up the panel and run all the tubing to the dampers and wire to the thermostats.

What areas should I consider zoning?

Before you meet with your contractor to discuss zoning your home, determine which rooms and areas would benefit from having customized control. Group rooms together with similar usage patterns or areas that may be tough to heat. Keep these things in mind when you’re laying out your zones:

  • Try keeping each of your coverage areas the same size.
  • Large rooms such as the master bedroom, a bonus room or a basement might make up their own zone.
  • If your home has multiple stories, combine rooms on the same level.
  • Rooms with common usage patterns such as bedrooms should be together, if they are on the same level.
  • Rooms that are shaded could become one zone.

Does zoning work for cooling my home as well?

Yes! When warmer weather comes, you’ll be able to enjoy cooler upstairs bedrooms. You’ll spend less money trying to keep your skylight-filled living room cool. And you’ll keep your whole family more comfortable all summer.

How can I find out more?

Since our main goal is to get your home’s temperature just right, we’ll be happy to talk to you about the benefits of a zoning system and how it will work in your home.  Contact us at 72 Degrees today!

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