What is an HVAC Zoning System ?

Have you ever been so cold in one room of your house that you jack the heat up, only to realize the rest of the rooms are now too hot? Or is one person in your family continually turning the AC on high and freezing out everyone else?

HVAC systems heat and cool an entire house, but a single thermostat can make it challenging to maintain a comfortable temperature for every room in the house.  HVAC systems controlled by one thermostat have just that – one thermostat. This means that it only reads the temperature in the room it is located. If the thermostat is in the main living areas, it can lead to the upstairs being too warm, or a room next to the garage too cold. 

In a home with varying degrees throughout the house, a zoning system may help to solve the heating and cooling issues. 

How an HVAC Zoning System Works

An HVAC zoning system uses multiple thermostats, a control panel, and dampers in the ductwork to regulate airflow. The thermostats read the temperature for different areas of the house, and the control panel takes those temperatures and signals the dampers. From there, the dampers either open or close, depending on if that room needs heating or cooling. 

Comfort at Home

In the heat of the summer and during winter’s freezing temperatures, it can be difficult to find a temperature where everyone in the household is comfortable from all areas of the house. Some people like it warm, while others prefer cooler temperatures. With a zoning system, each person’s preferences can be accommodated for different areas of the house. 

For houses with multiple levels, large windows, or rooms that you prefer to be cooler (like a workshop or home gym), zoning reads and maintains the appropriate temperature for each area. 

Sustainable Energy

There are usually areas in the house that are used less frequently than in other areas. With three to four different zones, you can avoid overheating or overcooling rooms that are not in use. The efficiency of zoned HVAC helps to lower your monthly bills, lengthen the life of your system, and decrease the amount of energy used in your home. 

The added comfort and energy savings you can achieve by installing a zoning system is worth considering, especially if you have already taken care of any air leaks and insulation issues. To determine if HVAC zoning is a good fit for your home, work with a certified HVAC contractor. 

 

What type of insulation do I need?

Insulation is needed in homes for many reasons: cost and energy savings, comfort, and even noise reduction. Depending on the climate where you live, the amount or type of insulation you need varies.

Insulation materials slow the flow of heat. In winter, it will slow the flow of heat from inside the home moving out, and in summer it slows the flow of heat from the outside in. The better insulation you have, the slower that flow will be, saving you on heating and cooling costs.

Insulation R-values refers to how much insulating power you need or have in your home. The higher the R-value, the more heat the material resists. The R-value is determined by the type of material used, the density, and the thickness.

The map and table below, from Insulation Institute, shows the insulation R-value needed based on location in the United States.

Zone Attic Wall Cavity Floor
1 R30 to R49 R13 to R15 R13
2 R30 to R60 R13 to R15 R13 to R25
3 R30 to R60 R13 to R15 R25
4 R38 to R60 R13 to R15 R25 to R30
5 R38 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
6 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
7 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
8 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30

 

“This map shows thermal recommended levels of insulation for various climate zones, based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The IECC is the model building code for the United States.” (insulationinstitute.org)

When building or renovating, consult with your contractor to determine what type of insulation is best for your home and location.

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