Last week, one of our blog posts focused on those uncomfortable rooms that just refuse to cool down. There are many reasons why this can happen, and equally as many solutions to correct the issue. One that we didn’t cover in extensive detail was zoning because it honestly deserves its very own post.
Zoning is gaining popularity in the U.S., and for a good reason. It’s a fantastic way to keep individual rooms or “zones” of your home comfortable. Instead of relying on the old model of a single thermostat for your entire home, zoning relies on multiple thermostats placed either in individual rooms or sections of your home that require a different temperature setting. In new home construction, zoning is more and more popular, and you can expect to see this trend continue to grow in popularity over time.
But what about homes that have an existing HVAC setup? Is it possible to zone these systems to create the same level of comfort experienced in new construction homes? Absolutely – and the whole process is probably much easier than you think.
Why Zoning is Amazing
If you have a larger or a multi-story home, you have probably experienced a scenario like this – you are watching tv in the living room while your spouse is in the bedroom, but one of the rooms is too hot. The thermostat is adjusted, which makes one room comfortable but leaves the other too cold. It seems like neither of you is ever happy with the temperature – someone is always sweating or freezing.
Now, picture this scenario with zoning – you are watching tv in the living room while your spouse is in the bedroom. The bedroom is too hot, so your spouse adjusts the bedroom-specific thermostat, which changes the temperature in that individual room. In this scenario, both of you are comfortable.
This is what zoning is all about – creating individual climate “zones” throughout your home that rely on their individual thermostats. A zoned system has a lot of flexibility, leaving an HVAC professional and home owner to design a system that will cool a home seamlessly. Whether your home requires only two zones or a zone to control each room individually, the customization options are available to meet your needs.
Are You a Good Candidate?
Zoning isn’t a problem for most homes, but some spaces tend to benefit more from an upgraded HVAC system. Homes that have major issues keeping individual rooms at a comfortable temperature will likely see benefits from zoning, although we do recommend checking out other possible problems with the room before opting for zoning. Larger homes also benefit from zoning, because one thermostat usually isn’t enough to provide an even temperature throughout the house. Plus, zoning allows you to direct cooling to the rooms you use the most, instead of wasting energy cooling unused rooms.
Households that have multiple family members will likely benefit from zoning as well. Some people just like their rooms to be hotter or cooler than others and zoning can prevent fights over who gets to control the thermostat. This is a system where everyone can be comfortable.
What Changes Are Required?
Retrofitting an existing system with zoning equipment isn’t difficult, although it does require initial planning of how airflow will move through the house in a way that won’t cause future problems. Having an HVAC technician provide a consultation and follow-through on changing the existing system is the best choice when it comes to making such a dramatic change to your home’s climate equipment.
Once a plan is in place, an HVAC tech will install a control panel that allows the A/C equipment to communicate with the new thermostats installed throughout your home. The tech will also install a series of zone and bypass dampers in your ductwork. These direct cold air where it is needed the most while ensuring that pressure in your A/C system is at safe levels.
After completing the installation, the HVAC tech will then test the system to make sure everything is working properly. At this point, it’s time to break out the celebratory champagne and enjoy your brand new, more comfortable HVAC system.
Are There Downsides to Zoning?
There are very few downsides. The biggest concern is equipment failure – any time you add more moving parts to an HVAC system, there is the chance that those parts will fail. The best thing homeowners can do to prevent this problem is to maintain the air conditioner properly. Investing in a bi-annual checkup in spring and fall, and always remembering to check your air filter monthly, will go a long way towards preventing any zoning failure.
Interested in zoning your home? Give us a call at (205) 871-8111 to schedule a consultation!