Heating and cooling costs can take up a lot of space on your energy bills. During summer and winter, you may be looking for quick and easy ways to reduce those costs. One commonly used method is to close air vents in unused rooms, reducing the amount of space that needs to be heated or cooled. It sounds like a good idea, but does it really work?
It's a common misconception that closing off vents in some rooms will reduce the amount of space you need to heat or cool, thus lowering your energy costs. In reality, closing vents in unused rooms can actually increase your energy use.
Heating and air conditioning systems are designed for balance, so that the amount of air returned to the air handling unit is roughly equal to the volume delivered through the supply vents in each room. When vents are closed, room air pressure increases. The extra pressure pushes air out through any openings in walls or windows. Rooms with closed vents can leak air in increased amounts.
The air that escapes from the room must be replaced, increasing the amount of air being drawn and the load on your heating and cooling system. Also, the increased duct pressure results in lower air flow with fixed-speed blowers and increased energy use with variable-speed blowers.
Ways to save
There are a number of measures you can take to reduce heating and cooling energy use and improve the comfort of your home:
- Hire a qualified professional to inspect and clean your heating and cooling system at least once a year.
- Make sure that all supply and return air vents are open and free of obstructions, such as rugs or furniture.
- Check exterior doors and windows for gaps or air leaks and seal with weather-stripping or caulk.
- Ensure that your walls and attic are properly insulated for your local climate. A qualified insulation contractor or energy auditor can inspect your home and tell you whether you need to add insulation.
If your heating or cooling system is older or in need of repair, consider upgrading to a new ENERGY STAR®-certified unit. ENERGY STAR heating and cooling systems are independently tested to use less energy than standard models while still providing the level of comfort you expect.
If considering replacing your heating/cooling system or upgrading your insulation, contact Beltrami Electric's Energy Services department first to inquire about available rebates.