Within the realm of heating and air, many homeowners are always on the hunt for savvy tricks that will save a few bucks on the utility bill without decreasing comfort. One such trick that we often see? Closing air vents in unused rooms to limit their air flow, which ostensibly is done to help lower costs from heating or cooling those rooms.
At All Hours Plumbing, our HVAC pros can help you separate legitimate cost-saving tactics from myths that don’t actually do much. Let’s look at some of the issues with vent-closing to save money, and what you should actually be doing if this is a concern.
HVAC and Airflow
It’s understandable that some homeowners will think that closing a few vents in rooms will cause less energy to be needed for other rooms that vents are open in. Unfortunately, though, this approach betrays a lack of knowledge about how HVAC systems actually work.
Think of your home’s HVAC system somewhat like your body’s respiratory system: It requires proper airflow in all the major sections to work properly. Most of the systems in an HVAC system are designed to function as fingers on a single connected hand – if one part of the system isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, even in a room you don’t use, it will throw off this balance.
What will happen when the balance is thrown off is a change in pressure. Closing certain vents increases the pressure in ducts, pressure that backs up into the entire system as a whole and causes it to work harder. You’ll notice some of the same issues as you would with a dirty furnace filter, namely the system needing far more effort to produce the same effects – and a resulting higher utility bill at the end of the month. This is on top of higher maintenance costs and the much greater potential for duct leaks due to increased pressure.
Zone HVAC Systems
There does exist a newer technology called a zone HVAC system, which allows you to control which rooms receive treated air. This system uses a more complex thermostat that allows you to set different temperatures in different rooms based on how often you use them (or other factors). If this is a huge factor for you, ask our pros about one of these systems.