Are HVAC Zones Right for My Home?

Laura Hennigan
Written by Laura Hennigan
Updated January 17, 2022
Woman adjusting central heating temperature
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock

 Is your home zoned for comfort?

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

You want to be comfortable in your home, whether you’re upstairs, downstairs, in the kitchen, or in your living room. But it can be tough to get each room the perfect temperature. 

If you’re building a new house, or upgrading your HVAC units, installing an HVAC zoning system is an excellent way to control your home’s temperature. Add to that lower heating and cooling costs—and you’re really in the comfort zone. Here’s what to know about HVAC zoning, and if it’s right for your home. 

What Is an HVAC Zoning System?

With traditional central HVAC systems, every room in your house receives an equal amount of heating or cooling, whether they are occupied or not. An HVAC zoning system changes this pattern by using different thermostats for each “zone” you create. 

Homeowners can design up to four temperature-controlled zones, each with its own thermostat. You can program thermostats to different temperatures, making it easy to control how warm or cool each zone is.

How Do HVAC Zoning Systems Work?

The HVAC zoning system uses a series of automatic air control dampers in the ducts that shift and redirect heating or cooling according to need. For example, an HVAC damper might close in the ducts that lead downstairs to cool the upstairs more effectively.

As a result, you can control how much energy your home uses to heat and cool, save on utility bills, and increase comfort without overworking your HVAC units.

When to Install an HVAC Zoning System

Since most households tend to have certain members who are always too hot or too cold, homes of any size can benefit from installing an HVAC zoning system. But certain home features see the biggest energy savings benefits after switching to heating and cooling zones. Some of those features include:

• High or cathedral ceilings

• Above-garage rooms or apartment

• Many large windows

• Basement or attic living space

• A loft or sunroom

• One or more rooms that are rarely used

Benefits of an HVAC Zoning System

A male hand pushing the button of home heating
Photo: Bits and Splits / Adobe Stock

In addition to allowing for control of different temperature levels, HVAC zoning systems have a variety of other benefits. 

Better Energy Efficiency

Zoning systems help prevent overheating and overcooling unused areas of your home, which will in turn waste less energy. In addition to increasing efficiency, this will also provide savings on your utility bills.

HVAC System Longevity

Because your HVAC units will no longer need to work overtime to keep your entire home at one consistent temperature, there will be less wear and tear on the system. A zoned HVAC system will last longer, since it won’t have to work as hard to heat and cool.

More Overall Comfort

If you are hoping for a cooler home gym or a warmer space to watch TV, your temperature comfort will vastly improve with an HVAC zoning system. You control the thermostats in each zone to customize your preferences.

How Much Does an HVAC Zoning System Cost?

If you’re adding zones to an existing HVAC system, it’ll cost about $2,000 to $3,000 for a typical home, according to HomeAdvisor. If you want to install a new HVAC system, it will cost between $7,500 and $12,500.

HVAC zoning system installation costs vary, depending on the number of zones you opt to create. More zones equal a higher overall cost, and your local licensed HVAC companies can advise on the ideal number of zones for your home’s size.

While this may be a higher upfront expense out of pocket, it’s important to remember that there will be long-term savings by improving energy efficiency and reducing utility bills. 

Plus, many newer HVAC systems let homeowners control their temperature settings virtually, from their phones or tablets. That means you can adjust your heating and cooling, even when you’re out of town.

If your HVAC units are making noise, or at the end of their lifespan, you will likely need to replace it. Installing an HVAC zoning system is definitely worth your consideration.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.