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Shutting a Room to Save Energy Is a Smart Idea–True or False?

Shutting a Room to Save Energy Is a Smart Idea--True or False?As you ready your home for the long heating season ahead, you may be considering shutting a room to save energy. While this seems like a prudent way to cut heating bills, in reality, it’s likely to end up costing you more in repair costs and your health than any energy savings you realize.

Forced-air HVAC equipment needs a fairly precise amount of airflow going through it to operate at maximum efficiency. The ductwork is sized and configured to handle a certain amount of air pressure, and sealing off registers and closing rooms will increase the pressure. Eventually, leaks in the ductwork form, which increase your energy bills, degrade indoor air quality and can even bring carbon monoxide into your home.

The leaks will pull dust and dirt into your home and if you use vented gas appliances, can backdraft CO, distributing it to each space that has a register. Closing off the supply registers but leaving the return registers open can actually cost you more in heating costs than leaving the room open. Each time the furnace turns on, it’ll pull air from that room and since it’s sealed, it’ll pull air from any cracks around the window frame, doors or the home’s shell.

If you’re shutting a room that has any plumbing to save energy, you’re at risk for frozen pipes during very cold weather. Newer forced-air furnaces are more sensitive to changes in the air pressure going through the blower and the ductwork. The ducts for that room could actually freeze, which places more stress on the system, and could contribute to a premature breakdown.

Instead of saving energy by closing off a room, you might consider having an HVAC contractor install a zoning system and calibrate your HVAC equipment. Zoning involves installing ductwork dampers that only open when an individual thermostat for that area calls for heating. Such a system helps you avoid the problems associated with altering airflow.

For options other than shutting a room to save energy, contact Arpi’s Industries. We’ve proudly provided HVAC services for the Calgary area for more than 50 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about energy savings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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