All rooms in your home are not created equal, some naturally stay warmer or cooler than others. A zoning system – the combination of a zone panel, thermostats and a series of dampers – can control the airflow to individual rooms and keep temperatures more even.
“Say you’re asking for cooling upstairs, the dampers for downstairs will close and block off the cold air to downstairs and the air conditioner will come on and all your air will go upstairs,” heating & cooling expert John Mills said.
While you can zone just about any existing HVAC system, it’s better to have it as part of the original construction. So if you’re thinking of building or remodeling a home, keep this in mind.
“The optimal time for installing a zoning system is when the house is being built, so if you’re in the process of building, talk to your builder and see if it makes sense for your home,” founder Angie Hicks said.
Two zones, each with its own thermostat, is recommended for most homes. Many may think more zones means more options, more efficiency or huge monthly savings, but this is not the case.
“Installing a zoning system isn’t going to make your home more efficient. You’re not going to see it on your utility bills, but what you will see is a much more comfortable temperature throughout your house,” Hicks said.
Some people try their own zoning by closing registers where they don’t want the air, but that can really do more harm than good.
“We’ll see people close every register in the first floor to try to force more air upstairs, but that can make the air conditioner run too cold and freeze up,” Mills said.
Experts say most homes would benefit from a zoning system, especially if it has vaulted ceilings,rooms above a garage or many large windows. They also recommend programmable thermostats with the system to help maximize efficiency.