It makes intuitive sense that if you close off rooms during the winter, you will be heating a smaller amount of your home and therefore saving money. Unfortunately, listening to your intuition here could be setting you up for some unexpected results. As it turns out, closing rooms to conserve energy may actually increase the energy used by your HVAC system, while degrading performance.
This is because when it comes to energy efficiency, most homes of today are designed to work as well-oiled machines. The HVAC systems are sized and designed to work with the exact square footage and layout of a home. When you start closing off rooms to conserve energy, you throw off the purpose and results of precision sizing and design. Since the system has been planned to heat the entire house, this leads to higher pressure in the ductwork to areas that have been closed off. Higher pressure causes stress on the duct connections, which can result in leakage. It also can result in a situation where the return ducts in rooms continue to pull inside air back into the system, creating low air pressure in those rooms. This results in outside air being sucked into the rooms, through cracks and openings in the home’s exterior shell.
With ducts that leak, your system isn’t doing any less work; it’s just sending heated air into the areas behind your walls and beneath the floorboards. That’s not the worst part. A study done by the Berkeley Lab found that, “Closing too many registers (more than 60 percent) is not recommended because the added flow resistance severely restricts the airflow though the system leading to safety concerns.” You could be overworking your air handler to the point that it can overheat and fail.
Instead of closing rooms to conserve energy, consider contacting a professional HVAC service to install a zoned heating and cooling system in your home. This will allow you to close off various areas of your home with electronically controlled internal vent closure while adjusting the air handler flow to compensate for the smaller square footage.
What other intuitive decisions are you making about your heating and cooling system? Call the pros at Overland Park Heating & Cooling and get the lowdown on how to keep your home comfortable without breaking your budget or damaging your furnace. We want to help you save money on utility bills in the greater Kansas City area, but we want to do it the right way.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
Image courtesy of Shutterstock