Smart Vents or Zoning: Which Methods Are Best?

Smart Vents or Zoning:

Today, smart home HVAC products are all the rage. They boast easy installation, seamless integration, and desirable energy efficiency. Despite their advertising claims, some smart vents or zoning methods go against expert advice.

The “Smart Vents” Zoning Method

So-called smart vents promote a simple and supposedly effective way for homeowners to cut heating and cooling in unused areas of the home. Products such as Keen Home’s Smart Vents offer Nest Learning Thermostat connectivity. They use the Nest app and interface to zone a home. Each vent’s sensors communicate with one another. This detects if an area is in use and will redirect airflow as necessary.

The Myth of Closed Vents as a Zoning Method

While the idea sounds logical, closing vents to unused areas is not advised. Many homeowners think an obvious energy saver would be to close vents in unused areas.

The problem with closing vents is that each home’s heating and air system is designed with those vents and rooms in mind. The system in your home is created to efficiently heat and cool the total square footage of your home. This means when you cut off a room or more, your furnace and air conditioner won’t operate as efficiently.

Shutting vents to restrict heating and cooling in certain areas of the home can cause major problems. Conditioned air held in the ducts, unable to exit into interior rooms, can cause furnaces to overheat and air conditioners to freeze up.

Approved Zoning Methods

Instead of closing vents in the home, installing a whole-home zoning system from Aprilaire or Honeywell is recommended. A zoning system works with your home’s heating and cooling equipment, rather than against it by closing vents. Zoning methods use a network of dampers and thermostats, along with a zoning panel. Zoning allows independent control of temperatures throughout the home.

Why is this method preferred?

Grogg’s prefer whole-home zoning systems over closing vents in a room because this strategy works with your home’s heating and cooling systems. Zone dampers installed within the home’s ductwork control airflow into a zone. The zone dampers channel conditioned air into the right areas. Bypass dampers eliminate the buildup of pressure which can occur with closing vents to prevent system damage.

Customized Zoning for Your Home

Traditional heating and cooling zoning methods can be customized to the needs of your family and your home. Grogg’s can design a zoning system which addresses the specific comfort and energy efficiency challenges faced by your household. These may be due to usage, construction type, or another cause.

Smart vents do not address the specific causes that can throw off balanced comfort within a home. The vent has the capacity to close off rooms and areas, rather than adjust heating and cooling system use.

Smart Zoning Methods

For those attracted to the “smart” element of certain comfort system products, you don’t have to sacrifice innovative technology when utilizing traditional zoning methods in your home. Today’s zoning systems include of a variety of smart products, from automated zone dampers, wireless panels and components, and even smart thermostats in each zone. Gain the technological advances you seek while still creating a practical and functional zoning system for your home.

Traditional Zoning Methods Save Energy

In addition to improving comfort, one of the main objectives homeowners have when installing zoning is to save money and conserve heating and cooling energy. Traditional zoning methods can save homeowners an average of 30 percent on annual heating and cooling energy usage. Homeowners can improve the efficiency of their zoning systems by using programmable thermostats effectively, programming accurate setback schedules, and being diligent about addressing seasonal changes.

Source: Will Housh of HVAC.com