Why is Shutting a Room a Bad Energy-Saving Idea?

If you’re like many other homeowners, you probably close the HVAC vents in seldom-used rooms to help you save energy. You may not realize that shutting a room upsets the airflow balance within your HVAC system, and this can cause a number of problems including:

  • Loss of comfort. Closed vents restrict airflow in the ductwork, which causes a pressure increase inside the HVAC system. If you have a single-speed blower motor, the fan speed drops as the pressure increases. With less airflow, it’s more difficult to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
  • Duct leakage. The increase in system pressure caused by closed vents forces air moved by the blower to seek out alternate escape routes. This can worsen existing leaks and create new ones at any weak points in the ductwork, which means more of the energy used to condition your air is being wasted.
  • Equipment damage. The reduced airflow that results from a pressure increase due to closed registers can lead to coil icing in your air conditioner or heat pump, and this can ruin the system’s most expensive component: the compressor.
  • Safety issues. If the drop in airflow occurs when you’re running the furnace, the heat exchanger can overheat and crack, and this can allow deadly carbon monoxide out into your air supply.
  • Higher energy consumption. If you’ve invested in a system with a variable-speed, electronically commutated motor (ECM) blower motor, you’ll lose out on energy savings because the blower has to run at a higher speed to compensate for increased duct pressure.

Zoning: The Smarter Alternative to Shutting Registers

If some rooms in your home are used infrequently, talk to a knowledgeable HVAC contractor about installing a zoned system with multi-stage equipment and a variable-speed blower. With zoning, motorized dampers are installed in the ductwork to divide your home into two or more heating and cooling zones. Each zone has a dedicated thermostat, and you control the system via a centrally-located panel.

To learn whether a zoning system is a viable alternative to shutting a room in your San Antonio home, contact us at Beyer Boys.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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