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Should You Bypass a Forced Air Zoning System?

Well, the answer is no, but that doesn’t make much of an article. As you read, please do consider that this is for the homeowner who has the money to make this an option. I understand that not everybody has the money within their budget to make these types of systems happen, especially since zoning is more than likely an after thought. However, that is why I am writing this, so hopefully you can plan for the extra expense which can be between $1,800-$3,500

Forced air zoning is defined as one that uses multiple thermostats and automatic dampers in your home’s ductwork, to intelligently control the air flow to every register in the house. Like a traffic cop, it directs the heated or cooled air only to the areas that require it. Since one thermostat is not "smart" enough to adequately sense your comfort needs everywhere throughout your house, a zoning system puts a thermostat in all the different areas of your home to guide the air exactly where it needs to be, and stop it from going where it is no longer needed.

If you think about it, not zoning a heating system is a little bit of a contradiction in thinking. Every home has zoning system in it, just not for the most expensive part; the heating. Think of it this way, when you go to turn the light switch on at the front door, does every light in the house come on? Of course not; we zone our lights. Why do we zone our lights? The number one answer: To save money. Look at the energy consumption of a 100 watt light bulb burning continually 365 days a year. At year’s end, it would average $30; the cost is minimal. So are we really saving money by turning off our lights? Or is it something that we’ve become accustomed to? Let’s also take a look at when we go to the kitchen and turn on that water faucet. Does every faucet in the house turn on? Of course not; we zone the water in our homes, too. Why? To save on our water bill!

Two out of three mechanical systems in our homes are zoned. But the most expensive one to operate is the HVAC system. Yet we will go into a home and place one thermostat in the middle of the house, usually in a hallway with no supply registers and one return. It will not sense east sun or west sun; it will not sense north wind or south wind. But we expect that system to keep all the rooms on the perimeter of the house the same temperature.
Why do we install this type of system? Because of competition. It is unfortunate, but to most heating contractors, winning the job is everything; not necessarily what is best for you or your homeowner. Now, I am not saying winning the job is not important, then I would have nothing to do, but it is recommended that we meet with the homeowner once all the “apples to apples” bidding is over so we can access any real needs they have like Zoning, Humidity, Cooling for MS or Parkinson’s, asthma, etc.

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