Since most everyone is interested in saving energy and thereby saving money, having a home or business zoned is a logical and effective means of doing so. This sounds great but…what is zoning? That is a great question!
Zoning a building means to take a complete HVAC system and make it modular rather than having it as a mono-system. To simplify this description, think of a pie: the pie as a whole is a mono-system but if that pie is cut into numerous pieces, it becomes modular.
Many years ago, when home heating systems involved coal burning furnaces and later when those coal burners were converted over to burn natural gas, the house was heated by gravity feed (hot air rises and cold air falls) and the heat was regulated by opening or closing wall or floor vents. This type of heating system could be considered as zoning in the strictest sense of the word but continually changing the vents in every room manually, to produce the comfort desired, could be laborious to say the least.
Well, things have changed and gravity feed furnaces are a thing of the past…at least in most homes. Forced air systems are now the predominant HVAC system used in homes and this type of system can really make a home hot and cold at the same time. As an example: My home is a 2-story home built back in 1938. It is a very solid structure and it originally had a coal fired gravity feed furnace that was converted over to natural gas. In the early 1980’s an 85% efficiency forced air furnace was installed, but…the original thermostatic control was retained. This means, the whole house does not need to heat up before the thermostat is satisfied that the structure is warm enough. This results in the second floor being too cold while the first floor is fine, but only for a while and then the furnace kicks in again and overheats the second floor. My home is called a mono-zone heating system, it is an all or nothing system. Needless to say, this type of system is very inefficient and does not product the comfort level that most people desire.
The primary way to produce an efficient heating and cooling balance within a structure is to make a structure multi-zoned. This means that each room in a structure can have its own temperature control for its area. Needless to say, this can alleviate many arguments over control of the heating and cooling. There will always be someone who thinks it is too cold or too hot and can never, seemingly, be pleased. However, if each room can control its own environment, then there is a greater chance for everyone to be pleased with the temperature settings.
As a further example, any 2 or more-story building will have heating and cooling extremes particularly during certain times of the year where there are external temperature extremes (summer and winter). Let us use the summer as an example; since heat rises, the upper floor or floors, of a multi-storied structure, will be hotter than the lower floor or floors. When winter occurs, the same problem remains, the upper floors will always be hotter than the lower floors and there will be no balance in the temperatures. These circumstances require separate heating and cooling controls to regulate the temperatures of these areas or in other words…zoning.
Zoning means to take a whole and break it up into various areas. Most homes have a single thermostatic control to manage the entire home. In most circumstances, this arrangement performs well enough, however, if the home is a larger home, a single thermostat will not comfortably suffice for comfort control of the home, unless the thermostat is capable of zoning control.
If you have a smaller home, the necessary heat to keep the home comfortable is easily maintained because the home is small. A larger home with a single non-zoning thermostat will require a lot more heating and is not good on energy use. Think about this; you are downstairs in the finished basement and you turn the heat on to warm up the basement. In a short enough time, the basement is comfortable, but the first floor will be a bit too warm compared to the basement and the upstairs will be very uncomfortable. By that same thinking, the upstairs being comfortable will make the basement a bit too cool for comfort. By zoning the home with thermostats for each zone, more precise control of the heating system will be practicable.
Now the number of zones will depend on the desired amount of control the home owner desires. A minimum of 3 is recommended but the actual size of the home is a better determiner of how many the home requires for maximum comfort levels. This same zoning idea with multiple zones applies equally to any business large enough to need zoning.
Zoning can save money by allowing different areas to control their needed heating requirements instead of having the heater going full blast to satisfy one area at the expense of another area. You do not have to heat up an entire home or other facility to obtain the comfort level required. Save money and zone that structure! Be well!!