Will Closing My Upstairs Vents Really Reduce My Energy Bills?

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If you’re like most homeowners, you’re always looking for ways to save money on your energy bills. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that shutting vents in your unused rooms will save you money. If you’re thinking of trying this method to save money, we encourage you to think again.

The Concept Behind Shutting Vents

Let’s say that you likely have a room or two in your upstairs that doesn’t get utilized that often. You may think that shutting vents in those rooms will allow your HVAC system to work less since it doesn’t have to deliver any air to those rooms. But, in reality, shutting vents has the opposite effect on your energy bill.

Understanding Your Ductwork

When the ducts were originally installed in your home, it was designed with the objective of delivering treated air to all the rooms throughout your home. When you shut even just one vent, it will cause a pressure increase inside of your ductwork. This pressure increase happens because your HVAC system is designed to work at full capacity with all of your vents open. The more vents that you close, the higher the pressure is going to build.

How Does Pressure Affect Your Ducts?

Excess pressure in your ducting is going to affect your HVAC system in two main ways. First, it’s going to slow down your blower fan. This will cause your HVAC system to overwork in order to deliver treated air adequately throughout your home. The second way that excess pressure can affect your HVAC system is that it will force your treated air out of the leaks and gaps in your ducting. Just because your home feels comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have leaks in your ductwork.

Ductwork Leaks and Gaps Are Very Common

Energy Star has estimated that the average American home loses about 20 to 30% of the treated air that travels through its ducting. Your ducting can develop leaks over time due to the expansion and contraction of its metal components.

When you shut off vents in your upstairs, the extra pressure that is created will force more of your treated air out of these vents than what normally escapes. That means that you’ll likely be losing more than 30% of your treated air through those unwanted leaks and gaps in your ducting. This translates to your HVAC system having to run for even longer to create enough treated air to heat or cool your home adequately.

Effective Strategies For Reducing Your Energy Bills

Learning that closing your vents will increase your energy bills can be discouraging. Fortunately, there are many other methods that you can effectively utilize to reduce your energy bills throughout the year. First and foremost is installing a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats are specifically designed to learn the habits of your home and make suggestions on more energy-efficient settings. These thermostats are controllable via your smartphone, so you can view your energy usage and make adjustments on a whim. Just the simple change of lowering your thermostat when no one is home in the daytime hours during the winter season can save you a bundle on fuel bills.

Installing ceiling fans in the highly trafficked rooms of your home can also be very beneficial to reducing energy bills. In the summertime, having your ceiling fans spin in a counterclockwise direction will force a breeze down onto you and your family. This can help to make it feel much colder in your home than it actually is.

You may even find that you can turn your temperature setting up during the summer a few degrees without noticing a change in your comfort level. The reverse holds true for the winter season when you turn your fan to spin in a clockwise direction. This will force warm air from the top of your rooms down to the floor and reheat them without the need for your HVAC system to kick on.

Another great method for lowering energy bills is to beef up your insulation. You want to think of insulation as a barrier between the temperature outside and the temperature inside your home. The thicker that barrier is, the less outside air will seep into your home. You’ll be able to keep more heat in during the winter months and more air conditioning inside during the hot summer months.

Professional HVAC Services

Puyallup Heating & Air Conditioning provides professional HVAC services for Puyallup, WA, and the surrounding areas. We’re also available for all of your air purifier needs. Call our office today to schedule a service appointment.

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