The tradition of shutting rooms to conserve energy during the winter months could lead to some serious issues with your furnace and ductwork, especially if you live in an energy-efficient airtight home.
Once you’ve sealed up all of the leaks around your house, you shouldn’t need to close any vents in the rooms. In fact, according to the Berkeley National Laboratory, closing air vents to save on your utility bill may do the opposite. You’ll end up spending more on your utility bills because the resulting pressure imbalances in your ductwork will cause leaks, potentially sending your warm air into the wall and floor cavities in your home.
This happens because today’s furnace systems and air handlers are designed to work with the specific square footage and layout of your home. When you reduce the area that you’re heating, it increases air pressure in the ducts. This pressure can force joints open and create air leaks.
If you chose to close more than 60 percent of the vents in your home, your furnace will be heating a much smaller area than it was designed to serve. This results in uneven temperatures and energy waste, and puts even more strain on the duct system. In addition, the unheated areas may freeze, damaging fixtures and furniture in the rooms, and the increased condensation may lead to mold damage.
Instead of shutting off rooms, consider adding a zoned heating and cooling system to your home. This will allow you to designate areas for complete shutdown so there is no airflow while also adjusting the air handler volume to keep pressure at an optimal level for the areas that are being heated. If you’re serious about saving money, the best thing you can do is upgrade to a new furnace that can be 30 percent more efficient at providing heat than your old one.
For more information about why you shouldn’t be shutting rooms to conserve energy, please contact us at (503) 266-1249. We’re the HVAC system service specialists in the Portland area.