7 Signs it’s Time to Install a Zoning System
A zoning system is a way to more easily and efficiently heat or cool specific areas, so that your home remains comfortable throughout without wasting energy. Zoning allows for even heating or even cooling of problem areas.
What is a zoning system?
Unlike central heating and air conditioning that control the temperature uniformly throughout your entire home all the time, zoning allows you to divide your home into different areas that have different heating and cooling needs based on how and when those spaces are used.
Each zone is controlled by its own thermostat that can be adjusted independently. Dampers open and close to allow or block the heated or cooled air from flowing into the zone. This provides greater flexibility and efficiency than a standard system. It also increases comfort, saves money on energy bills and lessens wear and tear on the equipment.
When should you add a zoning system?
1. Building a new home
This is a great time to consider a zoning system because all the mechanical and electrical parts needed can be installed at the same time. It also allows you to choose an HVAC system that can accommodate zoning.
2. Installing new HVAC and ductwork
Similarly, when you are getting a new system, you can incorporate zoning at the same time.
3. Inconsistent temperatures in different areas
Areas of your home that are difficult to heat or cool (resulting in hot or cold spots) would benefit from a zoning system.
4. Differing needs or preferences of the people in your home
From babies to grandparents and everyone in between, people have different needs and preferences that are more easily satisfied with a zoning system.
5. Infrequently used areas
Why pay to heat or cool areas that no one is occupying? Simply closing vents in little or unused rooms is inefficient and can harm your HVAC equipment. Zoning allows you to control the temperature safely and only pay for the energy that is actually needed.
6. Certain room features can create different needs
High ceilings, rooms above an unheated garage, rooms with lots of windows, basements, attics, lofts and sunrooms all have different characteristics that affect room temperature and airflow.
7. Multiple stories
We all know that the top floor can be too hot in summer and too cold in winter, while the reverse is true for the lower floor. Zoning can efficiently keep all the stories in your home more comfortable all year long.
What is needed for a retrofit?
Adding the benefits of zoning to an existing home requires a new thermostat (preferably programmable) for each zone; a central zone control panel connected to the thermostats to control the dampers (one panel can control multiple zones); and a transformer for the zone control panel, plenum tubing, flex dampers, a control limit switch and fire-rated tape.
Retrofitting is a big project that should be done by a professional. It requires knowing the total cubic feet per minute of air produced by your HVAC system, as well as a host of mechanical knowledge.