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What is Zoning?

Want more even temperatures throughout your home? Is one floor warmer or cooler than the other, or have you always wanted to control your living and sleeping areas separately? Perhaps it’s time to consider a zoning system!

With a zoning system, you have multiple thermostats, dampers that direct the air to different ducts throughout the house, and a control panel that runs the whole operation. For example, if the upstairs needs to be cooled, but the downstairs is fine the way it is, the A/C will turn on, the damper(s) to the upstairs areas open, and the damper(s) to the downstairs close.

Zoning is best done on new homes when the dealer can design the ducts specifically for that option. But, as today’s wireless technology advances, it’s becoming easier to install this kind of system in existing homes, as well. Zoning is also best done on two-stage (two levels of capacity) equipment, so you aren’t trying to force 100% of a furnace or air conditioner’s airflow into 50% of the ductwork. With a zoning system, there are ways to control excess airflow and noise when only half the house wants air. Another benefit is that the zone control panel will monitor the air temperature to make sure you aren’t overheating a furnace or freezing up an air conditioner when not using all of the equipment’s capacity. This is why zoning is preferred over just closing registers in unused areas of the house to try and force air into other spaces.

With existing ducts, two to three zones is the recommended number, as any more may cause an issue with excess air. With today’s new variable capacity furnaces, a home with a matching zone system can have twice as many zones, because the cooling or heating system knows how much of the house wants air and can adjust the level exactly.

So…will you save on your energy bill with zoning? Some! Since air finds its way around the house despite zoning, however, savings won’t be substantial. But done right, zoning will make the house a lot more comfortable.