Shutting off Rooms Is a Smart Energy-Saving Idea? Think Again

When you don’t need all the space in your home, it’s tempting to shut off a room to save energy. After all, not heating the room seems like a smart energy-saving idea. But is it really a good idea? Actually, unless a room is very small and some distance from your furnace, shutting off the vents in an unused room could do more harm than good.

Why is that? Closing the supply vents in an unused room not only prevents heat from entering through the registers, it also restricts airflow. You see, the room has not only a supply vent, but also a return register, which sends air back through the system. Closing off the supply register creates a pressure imbalance in the room. As a result, cool air from the outside could get drawn into the room via air leaks, such as those around the window frames. This can actually cause damage to your room. Prolonged exposure to cold air can cause paint to blister and wood furniture to crack. If that cold air is also moist, you could be contending with moisture damage, as well.

This energy-saving idea could cause other problems, too.

  • Damage to your ductwork: When air flowing through your ducts can’t get where it’s supposed to go, pressure can build up in the duct system. Existing leaks in the ducts could worsen, and new ones could develop. These leaks can cause you to lose conditioned air in places you don’t want to heat or cool, such as your attic, your basement or your garage. They could also cause contaminants to enter your air stream.
  • Damage to your furnace: When you purchased your furnace, it was most likely sized according to the precise heating and cooling load of your home. When you close a room, you change that load. But the size of your furnace hasn’t changed. Your system’s could cycle on and off too frequently, failing to heat your home properly.

If you need smart energy-saving ideas this winter, there are many alternatives to shutting off the vents. For more information on saving energy during the colder months, contact Beyer Boys. We have been helping San Antonio homeowners keep their energy bills in line since 1990.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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