Zoned HVAC systems turn off air when portions of your home aren’t in use.
Heating and cooling accounts for the largest part of your home’s energy bills—as much as 40% of the total. And some of that energy is wasted when you’re heating and cooling parts of your home that aren’t in use. Zone heating and air conditioning allows you to turn off the air in those sections while other parts continue to be heated and cooled, which can save you money.
Zone heating works well if there are rooms in your house that are warmer or colder than others. For instance, rooms on the second floor tend to be 6-10 degrees warmer than those on the first floor or in the basement. Rooms with vaulted ceilings may be cooler than those with lower ceilings. And those that receive direct sunlight can be harder to cool down, particularly in the afternoon hours when the sun is hottest.
You can set up multiple heating and cooling zones in your home, such as upstairs and downstairs zones or zones for bedrooms and zones for living areas—each controlled independently of the other one. You can choose from two configurations for setting up the zones in your home:
Types of Zoned Systems
The first type of zone system is a single HVAC unit that maintains two zones simultaneously. These systems can be controlled using one thermostat and baffles that open and close the airflow between the two zones. Or they can also be controlled using multiple zone-based thermostats that can be programmed for the use of each zone. For instance, you may want to set your bedrooms cooler than the living areas of your home and pre-program changes based on when you expect to be in those areas.
The second type of zoned HVAC system comprises multiple units that operate completely independent of one another. Each zone has its own programmable thermostat, which allows you to adjust the temperature to compensate for anything that makes a particular zone or room overly warm or cold.
This type of zoned heating and cooling is the more popular of the two options because it:
- Allows for better control of temperature in the different areas of your home
- Reduces wear and tear on equipment since the load is shared between the two units
- Is less complex than a single system, particularly one controlled by baffles
- Can be completely shut down when a zone is not in use
Benefits of Zoned Heating and Air Conditioning
Both zoned HVAC systems do have benefits, however, when they’re set up and used properly:
Zoning can save you money on utility costs. Simply set your thermostats based on usage in each area of your home. Dean Peterson is a co-founder of Summit Heating and Air Conditioning in Denver, Colorado. He recommends zoning to reduce energy costs. “You don’t have to heat and cool areas that aren’t in use whether you’re away from home for the day or you aren’t using a zone for an extended period of time, like guest rooms,” says Peterson. Less usage means less energy wasted and lower utility bills. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates zoned systems can save you up to 30% on your energy bill each year.
Zoned HVAC systems give you better control over the temperature in your home. You can heat or cool areas independently, which means you can keep the living room warmer than your bedroom or the upstairs cooler than the downstairs.
In addition, zoning helps reduce wear and tear on your system—especially if you have more than one unit. Your system won’t have to work as hard to heat and cool your entire home. Instead, you can set it to keep only the areas you’re using comfortable. That can help your HVAC system last longer while still functioning at the highest level of efficiency.
When you leave a room, you turn off the lights. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do the same thing with your HVAC system? Contact your local HVAC professional for a consultation to see if zoned heating and air conditioning is right for your home.