Zoning Your Home: Ways to Maximise the Use of Your Heaters

July 24th, 2018
Zoning Your Home Ways To Maximise The Use Of Your Heaters

If you’re sick of the winter chill and looking to keep your house warm without increasing your energy bills, you may be looking at installing central heating. When considering installing a heater, you’re not only faced with the cost of the installation and the central heating unit, but your heating bills! So now is a great time to familiarise yourself with the concept of zoned heating.

Zoned heating means having control of the heating in various parts of your house – the ability to heat up the rooms you know you’ll be in and not the entire house. This is a more energy efficient way to heat your home, and can go a long way to reducing your utility bills. It’s better to come up with a zoned heating plan early (as it’s more difficult when the unit is already installed). Here’s how to incorporate zoned heating, depending on the type of system you use:

Whole House Zoning with Ductwork

It can be frustrating when your room upstairs is three times hotter than the one below, or vice versa. If you want whole sections of your house heated, as opposed to specific rooms, you can look at zoned heating for this option. This relies on the layout of your home and which areas you use more often, and it can be done in two ways: having a single unit that can simultaneously maintain two separate zones, or many units that can be operated by themselves. Zones can be achieved with both gas ducted heating and reverse cycle ducted heating.

Zoning can help in two distinct ways. For areas which can vary in temperature drastically from one another, zoning can help to independently control these fluctuations and create a more contiguous temperature across the home. In addition, zoning can be used to reduce energy consumption during different times of the day. During the day, zoning can be used to heat living areas, and then direct heating only into bedrooms at night.

Popular uses for whole home zoning include separating upstairs and downstairs, front and back of the house and bedrooms and living areas. Essentially, if the spaces will vary in usage depending on time of day, or there are temperature fluctuations due to external factors, zoning can help.

Each zone has a separate thermostat and ductwork to control its airflow. They require professional installation in order to maximise how it can work properly in your home. Australian Climate Systems has extensive experience in installing gas ducted heating with zoning in all kinds of situations, so we’re the ultimate choice.

Mini-Split System

A less costly but still energy efficient option is the mini-split system or ductless heating. The major component that makes the system work is the heat pump, a condenser unit placed on an external wall which pumps the cold and hot outside. Usually, this type of zone heating allows for up to four air handlers (the indoor portion of the unit) that provides heating in separate zones.

This type of zoning is ideal if each zone is only one room. For example, if you have a home office, it can be useful to have climate control operating in only that room during the day. Likewise, bedrooms can benefit from ductless heating during the evening, when only one or two rooms require heating. In addition, if each person has individual temperature preferences, they can be controlled on a room-by-room basis.

Multi-zone split systems are easy to install and operate, and also do not need any ductwork strategically placed throughout your house. This reduces the overall cost, as no roof space construction is needed. Professionals are required to install this zoning system as well.

Electric Heaters

If you’re only looking to heat up a small area for a short period of time, then electric heaters may be an option. You can put fan heaters in small areas, such as bedrooms or offices, that you want to warm up quickly.

While radiant heaters may seem like a good choice due to their low initial cost, most tend to have low energy efficiency which leads to higher running costs. They also pose more safety concerns than some other heating systems. Always make it a point to turn off heaters when you leave the room, and don’t cover them with any fabric such as towels or blankets. If you must use a space heater, try to look for one with a high energy efficiency rating, and make sure to keep all the doors in the space closed.

House split in half, showing rooms and zones

Making the Most of Your Zoning

Once you’ve got your zoning installed and set up just the way you want it, it’s important to make sure that you’re taking steps to make the most of it. Thanks to our over 25 years of experience, we’ve got firsthand experience in what is most effective. Here are a few of our tips:

Proper Insulation

One of the biggest wastes of electricity when it comes to climate control is a lack of proper insulation. Without proper insulation, heat loss can occur through your walls, floors, ceiling and windows. You may as well be throwing your money to the wind!

To reduce heat loss, energy costs and keep your home’s temperature more consistent, make sure your roof cavity, floors and wall spaces have good quality insulation. In addition, glass is an excellent heat conductor. When the afternoon sun is shining on windows, they can be excellent heat sources. But during the cooler and darker months, windows quickly suck the hot air out of your home. By choosing heavy curtains and  keeping them closed, you can reduce this effect.

Keep Doors Closed

When using zoning, the aim is to keep the heat enclosed into certain areas. Much like a lack of insulation, leaving doors into unheated spaces open reduces the effect of your zoning. Where possible, ensure doors to unheated spaces are closed, including rooms without vents such as bathrooms or linen cupboards.

Turn Down the Thermostat

The ideal temperature to keep your home is between 18 and 20 degrees. In fact, every degree you increase your thermostat settings can cause your energy costs to rise by 10%.* Keep that in mind when setting your thermostat. If you’re feeling chilly, consider adding layers or putting on a pair of slippers.

At night, we recommend turning the temperature down further, or using the ‘sleep mode’ setting, which slowly reduces the temperature during the night, then raises it before you get up. The optimal sleeping temperature for the best night’s sleep is around 16 degrees, so consider using this as the target temperature on your programmable thermostat during the evening and overnight.

Contact Australian Climate Systems Today!

The last thing you want to be stressing about in the middle of winter is a huge gas/electricity bill – so take the stress off with zoned heating. For more information as well as enquiries regarding heating installation, contact Australian Climate Systems today!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I DIY zoned heating by closing the vents in certain areas?

While this seems like a good idea — redirecting heat from unused rooms into main living spaces by closing vents — this can cause an increase in heating costs and in fact even cause damage to your system. 

Your ducted system, whether a reverse cycle air conditioner or gas heating, has a certain set capacity. This means no matter how many vents you close, the outdoor unit will be working just as hard as it aims to maintain a comfortable temperature. This can increase the pressure in your ductwork, which can cause damage to your central heating system. This is ultimately more costly to repair than the money you might save by closing vents.

How much more efficient is zoned heating?

It may seem like a minimal change, but zoning can reduce your power consumption by up to 30 percent. Radiant heaters may seem like a good alternative, but their heating efficiency is very low compared to ducted heating. They do not raise the indoor temperature consistently throughout the room, but instead produce hotspots. 

Can I retrofit my existing heating system with zoning?

Yes, it is often possible to retrofit an existing heating system with zoning capabilities. However, the feasibility depends on the type of heating system and its compatibility with zoning equipment. If you’re interested in finding out more about your current system and the potential for zoning, contact Australian Climate Systems today.

Are there any limitations or considerations to make when choosing zoned heating?

Zoning for heating requires careful planning and installation. It is essential to ensure that the heating system is compatible with zoning equipment and that the airflow is balanced throughout the zones. Improperly installed or unbalanced systems can lead to temperature inconsistencies or reduced efficiency. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will ensure that all of your ductwork and vents are in the perfect placement to optimise heating.

Can I control my zoned heating remotely?

Yes, with the introduction of smart thermostats and home automation systems, it is possible to control zoning for heating remotely. Smart thermostats often offer smartphone apps or online platforms that allow users to adjust temperature settings and monitor the heating system from anywhere with an internet connection. Get in touch with us to discuss your options for smart controls.

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