Your Heating & Cooling System – A Balancing Act

Do you have one room that always seems too hot or too cold?  A room or area of your home in which you’re never comfortable?  Do you have problems with temperatures varying from one floor of your home to another? Balancing the air flow throughout your entire home is a key element to ensuring total home comfort.

Your forced-air system draws air from your home through the return, to your furnace or air handler. Conditioned air is then blown back into the rooms of your home through the supply ductwork.  When the air flow is not balanced throughout your system, you will have some rooms that are too cold or too warm.  Balancing the air throughout your home not only makes your home more comfortable, but also ensures that your system is running more efficiently, and, in turn, efficient operation means lower utility bills.

A major cause of uneven air distribution is your ductwork.  Oftentimes this is a result of homes being built with inadequate or poorly designed ductwork.  Leaky ducts, crimped or bent ductwork may result in the cutting off of air flow to a particular room or area of your home.  In each of these cases, an inspection of the ductwork by a heating and cooling technician may be required.

If you have some rooms or areas of your home that get too cold or too hot, check and make sure all of the air registers are open throughout your entire home.  Air registers are the grill-like vents that are in each room to release the warm or cool air.  Air supply registers have a small lever to open or close the vent.  If some air vents are closed this will interfere with the balance of air, some rooms will receive a great deal of cool (or warm) air, while others will get little to none.  That being said, occasionally it makes sense to partially close a vent in a room that is too hot to drive the air to other parts of the home.  In this instance a homeowner should have an industry professional perform the changes needed to balance the system because these changes affect system performance. This method can be extremely helpful in improving your overall comfort.

The blower on your furnace can also be the culprit, blasting either full on or completely off.    

Here are some ways you can promote better air flow in your home:

  • Making sure that the air return registers (which are usually larger and don’t have the lever), are unobstructed by furniture, drapery or clutter.
  • Vacuuming your air return registers on a regular basis, to remove any dust build-up.
  • Keeping the doors between rooms open.  This flow of air makes it easier for your system to cool or warm the entire home.
  • Using ceiling fans.  If you have a room with tall ceilings and/or East or West facing window(s), you may experience too warm or too cool temperatures in that particular room.  One way to help restore the air balance is with the installation of a ceiling fan.  Ceiling fans are not only a great way to better distribute cooled or warmed air in your home; but also allow your heating and cooling system to run less.  A system that runs less uses less energy and incurs less wear and tear.  According to the Department of Energy, if you are using an air conditioner, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
  • Another way to control and balance your air is through a zoned system.  In a forced air system, a zoned system uses multiple thermostats and automatic dampers in your home’s ductwork, to intelligently control the airflow to every register in your home.  It directs the heated or cooled air only to the areas that require it.  You can “zone” each room or floor in your home to fit your own specific heating and cooling needs.  This will eliminate hot and cold spots from every area of your home and enhance your comfort throughout.   This helps eliminate paying for heating or cooling your whole house when you’re only using a portion of it at any given time.  Zoning system allows you to tailor your energy use to your lifestyle, saving you money.
  • Newer variable speed furnaces can also greatly improve comfort levels by fighting some symptoms of poor duct design.
  • Another solution is a ductless mini split system.  This can be a great option to cool (or heat) a specific room.

Air balancing of your heating and cooling system is a key element to total home comfort.  It will not only improve your comfort, but can also reduce your energy usage, improve system efficiencies, and ultimately lower your energy bills.   What are you waiting for – walk through your house today and check to see if any of your rooms need air balancing!


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