Closing Rooms to Save Energy: Good Thinking or Bad Idea?

Considering the cost of heating a home these days, who isn’t interested in saving a little energy? You’ve probably put some effort into sealing the air leaks in your home and adding insulation. Maybe you’ve even replaced your furnace. Now you might be thinking about closing one or two rooms that you no longer use. Seems like smart thinking. But think again. It could be a very bad idea.

Ductwork Issues

Closing a room or rooms to save energy has been a more or less accepted practice for some time. The idea is that you force more heated air into the rooms where you want it. You’re more comfortable, and you’re spending less money to heat your home. Today, however, energy experts are questioning this whole theory. In fact, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study found in 2003 that this practice actually increases energy usage, as well as air pressure in a home’s ductwork, which eventually leads to leaks.

Pressure Imbalance

Further, when you close the supply registers in a room, the air returns are still open. This can create a pressure imbalance in the room. Air is drawn into the room via spots such as leaks around windows. So now your room is drawing in cold moist air that, over a prolonged period, could damage your wood furniture and fixtures and cause your paint to bubble and peel.

Furnace Problems

Finally, today’s furnaces and air conditioners are precisely sized to heat and cool your entire home, not just part of it. If you close one or more rooms after your furnace has been sized to condition the air throughout your home, your system will instantly become oversized. It could cycle on and off too frequently, affecting your home comfort. You could even run the risk of damaging your system.

It is possible to close a room if it’s very small–no more than 100 square feet–and it’s distant from your air handler. If you’re committed to closing a significant portion of your home, consult your HVAC-system professional, who can do it in a way that will really save you money and pose no harm to your system.

Balance Point Heating & Air Conditioning in Fort Collins can help you achieve your energy-savings goals. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions.

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