Air balancing is the process of testing and adjusting your HVAC system to make the equipment work more efficiently to heat or cool your home. The process can be carried out by a trained HVAC technician, and the changes made to the airflow in your home can have a dramatic impact on your indoor comfort.
A Basic Introduction to Air Balancing
Essentially, air balancing involved modifying your HVAC system to ensure that there is an even distribution of air throughout the home. This is key if you suffer from hot or cold spots in certain areas that never seem to reach the desired temperature. When the air is balanced, every zone in your home will have an even heat transfer, and all of your HVAC system components will be working together in harmony. If you’re interested in trying out some more basic air balancing techniques yourself, the following five methods are a great place to start.
- Adjust Your Register
This is a simple method to try; the damper blade in your registers can be adjusted to restrict the air flow in every room. Resist the temptation to close the registers entirely as this can create other problems in your HVAC system. When the weather is warmer, the registers can be fully opened on the upper floors and partially closed on the lower floors or in the basement. When the weather turns colder, simply reverse this process, open the registers on lower floors and open them on the upper floors. This will help your home to reach the desired temperatures faster, and the deliberate air flow will make the process more efficient. Follow these seven steps for the best air balancing results.
- The ideal range for testing is 76-78º, so set your thermostat accordingly.
- Once the temperature is set leave it at that setting for at least 24 hours.
- Take a tour of each area in your home and make adjustments to the register.
- If an area is too cold, close the air vents slightly to reduce the air flow.
- Always make adjustments in tiny increments to gradually reach the ideal temperature.
- After 24 hours have elapsed, repeat the procedure outlined above until every area feels perfect.
- Once the registers are set, you can leave them alone until the season changes.
- Check and Clean the Air Filter
Keeping your HVAC air filters clean will lead to improvements in air flow that are important for the following five reasons.
- The air quality is improved when the dust, dirt, debris, and hair is removed from your air filters. The air in your home is re-circulated through the air filter multiple times every day, and any contaminants are distributed throughout the home,
- When the air filter is clean, the air flow is improved, and this improves the efficiency of the heating and cooling system.
- The air filter prevents debris from entering the HVAC system, where it can damage sensitive components.
- When the air filter is clogged, the HVAC system has to work harder, and this will cause extra wear to key components and lower the useful lifespan of the equipment.
- When you change your air filter regularly, you can reduce your heating and cooling bills by 5-15%.
- The 2º Offset Temperature Method
This is a method that you can try if you have a two storey home with a thermostat for each floor. When you set the temperature for each storey, use a 2º offset to deal with uneven temperature issues. As an example: you could set the upper floor to 74º and the lower floor to 72º or vice versa to see if this makes your home feel more comfortable. This is also a great way to save energy, and it’s easy to use this method all year round.
- Use Window Coverings for Passive Temperature Control
A key part of any HVAC system is how fast it can heat or cool a room that you want to use. Many people take the approach of cranking the thermostat up or down to make this process faster, but this doesn’t really do much in practice. A good way to help your HVAC system to achieve this goal quickly is to alter the temperature of the room passively throughout the day by using window coverings. Most rooms in a home have at least one window, and this can let a great deal of warm sunlight into the space. It’s estimated that 76% of all sunlight that hits a double pane window enters that room as heat.
This is desirable in winter when any extra free heat is welcomed, but in summer, the last thing you need is a lot of warm sunshine in your hot rooms. So, if you want to improve energy efficiency, it’s a great idea to keep the window coverings open during the winter and closed during the summer. This will warm or cool the space, and the HVAC system will not need to work for as long to bring the room to the desired temperature.
- Turn the Thermostat Fan to the “On” Setting
The HVAC fan can have a dramatic effect on the indoor air quality and your overall comfort levels. Most modern thermostats have two settings, “On” and “Auto” and most people set their thermostats to the “Auto” setting. But, if you switch over to using the “On” setting, the fan will blow consistently, and this will constantly replace your indoor air. This will make the air feel fresher as the stagnant air will be constantly replaced, and the air flow will be steady. But, there is a caveat; if you use the “On” setting, the HVAC system will use more energy, and your utility bills will be higher. For many homeowners, the tradeoff is worth the additional premium, and it may be worth trying to see if the difference is worth it for your home.
There are many more air balancing techniques that can be used by a professional HVAC technician to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.