News & FAQ

What is Temperature Zoning?

4/29/2016

Valerie Johannsen People & Brand Manager

Hot and cold spots – all homes have them.  Hot air rises, leaving upper stories hotter (especially with a noon-day sun) and floor or basement levels colder than the rest of the house.  Sometimes it’s a measure you can use to your advantage, giving the baby the warmer room for the winter, saving on heating costs and keeping her warm at the same time.  But most of the time it requires you to set the temperature of your home based on the room that’s most intolerable – or at least basing it on which room you spend the most time in.

Programmable thermostats help out with some of this.  By learning your schedule, they can adjust temperatures automatically, keeping you comfortable during the evening, lowering temperatures during the night for sleep, and saving energy while you aren’t home.  But they don’t have a way to regulate temperature per room.

One way to regulate temperature in separate rooms is with a zoned system.  Temperature zoning allows you to control how much heated or cooled air is being diverted into different rooms.  By regulating airflow into separate rooms (through means other than closing vents to multiple rooms), you can help lower your heating and cooling costs while making your home even more comfortable than it was before.  It certainly sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Pieces of a Zoned System

  • Smart Thermostat
  • Zone Sensors
  • Modulating Dampers
  • Central Heating and Air Unit

So how does a zoned system work for your home?  After all, you still have only a single HVAC unit or furnace for heating and cooling.  The difference is in the special zone sensors in your home.  Each one is a wired thermometer that measures the temperature of each individual room.  Your zoned system will be laid out by room or by zone, depending on the complexity you choose.

That means that you can regulate your home’s temperature by floor (upstairs/downstairs), side (East/West), or by individual rooms.  As the temperature sensors detect changes throughout the day, they notify your zoned system to adjust according.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s because the sun has changed position and is heating a different part of your home or you’ve invited over all your friends for an indoor exercise party that adds extra heat to the home.

Rather than simply ramping up or slowing down the blower fan to adjust the temperature of your home (or in the case of single-stage heating and cooling systems, turning the unit on and off), a zoned HVAC system operates special dampening devices within the ventilation ducts.  These dampers are designed to control airflow throughout your home.  Without generating excess backpressure or damaging airflow, carefully controlled amounts of heated or cooled air are forced into the rooms where they’re needed, preventing hot and colds spots throughout the home.

This way, you can set the temperature for your entire home, or simply set specific temperatures for specific rooms as-needed.

Mini-Split Controls

Another alternative to ensuring even heating and cooling around the home, without the expense of constantly regulating the entire home, is with mini-split ductless units.  These units are especially popular for energy- or space-conscious homes.  Rather than having a single unit that works to regulate temperature throughout the entire home, these tiny air conditioning units work for a single room.

Virtually no energy is lost to ducting because there’s only a small amount of ductwork (or none at all depending on the room) between the air conditioner and the outside air compressor.  A small home is cut in the wall, allowing climate controlled air to be moved directly into the room.  Similar in concept to older-style window units, ductless systems can be installed to regulate temperature for one or two rooms at a time.  As an added bonus, placing the compressor outside makes them quieter than window units while still giving the benefit of custom, per-room temperature controls.


Thank you for making Service Legends the #1 provider of residential heating and air conditioning in the Des Moines area. A live and friendly customer care representative is ready to take your call 24/7 at 515-COMFORT (515.266.3678).

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