Smart thermostats are a great advance in home comfort. They allow you to automate the temperature changes in your home, which can help you save energy and be more comfortable. To realize the promised energy savings with smart thermostats, we recommend taking one more step: consider HVAC zoning. With zoning, you can not only change the temperature when you want – you can also change which sections of your home get heating or cooling at different times. That’s how to get the most out of your smart thermostat.
Your HVAC technician can tweak many variables that increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. But controlling your thermostat every day is still up to you. Here’s how to get the most out of your smart thermostat, after your technician has gone home.
With zoning, you can use your thermostat schedule to take advantage of times when a zone is not being used. Setting back the temperature in a room you’re not using can save significant energy according to energy.gov. That’s because it reduces the time your heating or cooling equipment is running. In the summer, the bedrooms can be warmer during the day when no one is in them. In the winter, they can be cooler during the day. And the same thing is true for living spaces at night. If the whole family’s in bed, you don’t need to keep the living room comfortable. This keeps you from paying hard-earned money to heat and cool spaces when you’re not using them.
Another reason HVAC zoning gets the most out of your smart thermostat is location. If you have one thermostat on the first floor of a two-story home, you probably have noticed that you have to turn the thermostat way down in the summer to get the second floor comfortable. That’s because heat rises, and second stories get extra heat from sunlight on the roof. So the second floor is always going to be warmer than the first floor. Think of how much energy it wastes to cool the first floor to the point of needing a blanket, just to get the second floor more comfortable.
With HVAC zoning, your air conditioner can save some runtime by directing extra cooling to the upper level, and less to the lower level. In this way, both floors can be more comfortable while saving energy. Be sure to think about the location of your smart thermostat and use it to achieve your energy usage goals.
For best results, you or your contractor should place the thermostat on the wall at eye level. Keep it away from windows and other heating or cooling sources like electronics or fireplaces. Ideally, your thermostat should be in a common area of each zone that is accessible to the people who use it.
If you’re just learning about zoning and want to know more, you may find these other resources helpful too.
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