Many homeowners don’t understand the importance of air balancing in their home heating and cooling systems. If you’ve ever experienced hot or cold spots in your home, it’s likely that you have air balancing issues that need to be resolved. Many aspects of air balancing are best handled by a professional, but there are some adjustments that you can make today. In this article, we will explain air balancing and show seven ways that it can be used to improve the indoor comfort levels in your home.
What is Air Balancing?
This is a process carried out by a certified HVAC specialist to improve the performance of your heating and cooling equipment. A comprehensive series of checks are made to determine how the treated air is being distributed throughout your home. Each area or zone in your home needs to be receiving an even level of heat transfer for effective and efficient heating. Every component in your HVAC system needs to be working as intended by the manufacturer in a harmonious manner to get the best possible results. The HVAC technician will be able to make suggestions to modify your HVAC system to improve performance and energy efficiency. Let’s take a look at seven tips to help you get started with air balancing today.
- Adjust Your Register
Many HVAC systems have registers where the damper blade can be adjusted to restrict or allow air into a room. The register should never be fully closed; this can cause a number of problems leading to an expensive repair bill. The HVAC system needs to “breathe” to work correctly, and the airflow cannot be fully impeded. During warm weather, it’s a good idea to open the upper floor registers and partially close those on the lower floors. When the weather turns colder, reverse this process, and this will properly balance the system for appropriate seasonal heating or cooling.
- Use a 2º Offset
Many people live in a two-story home that has a thermostat located on each separate floor. This type of home configuration can benefit from a 2º offset between each thermostat to improve performance and energy efficiency. As an example: set the upper floor to 74º and the lower floor to 72º and see how the home feels. This is a very simple way to get rid of any uneven temperature issues that you may be experiencing.
- Check and Clean the Filters
As we briefly mentioned earlier, the HVAC system needs adequate airflow to function correctly. When the air filters are clogged, this will impede the flow of air, and this can have a dramatic effect on how the system performs. When the airflow is insufficient, the equipment will be forced to work harder to compensate, this uses more energy, and it overworks the system leading to component failures. Heating and cooling makes up around 42% of energy use in an average home, and a clean filter can reduce those bills by up to 15%. A clean filter will also help the furnace to run smoothly and help to prevent the heat exchanger from overheating. The indoor air quality will also be improved, and those suffering from allergies and breathing conditions will notice the difference. Changing an air filter is easy, the instructions are in your owner’s manual, and it’s important to fit the correct filter size. The air filter should be checked and cleaned every month, but if you have pets, it is a good idea to check it more often.
- Prevent Heat Build-up with Window Coverings
The windows in any room can have a dramatic effect on the level of heat build-up in those spaces. This is ideal in winter, the windows can be left uncovered, and this will deliver free heating from the sunshine. But, in summer, this is the last thing that you need. A hotter room is harder to cool down, and this makes your HVAC equipment less efficient. During the day, it’s a great idea to use window coverings to prevent the sunshine from entering the room when it’s hot outside. During a typical cooling season, it’s estimated that approximately 76% of the sunlight hitting single pane glass is converted into room heat. Adding drapes, shades, and blinds can cut this heat down to reduce the strain on your HVAC system naturally.
- Investigate and Seal Drafts
There may be gaps around your doors and windows that allow drafts to create cold spots in certain parts of your home. This is also inefficient. When treated air can escape, it’s a waste of money, and it makes your HVAC system work harder to compensate. Check with a candle flame or a lighter around your doors and windows to see if you can detect any drafts. Sealing these areas with a little mastic will prevent the drafts and help to improve the energy efficiency. This method can be a little hit and miss; an HVAC specialist will have equipment that detects drafts for a more comprehensive fix and lasting results.
- Ceiling Fan Directions
The direction of your ceiling fans can have a dramatic effect on how the treated air is circulated around your rooms. During the cooling season, the fans should be set to turn counterclockwise to create a cool downdraft at any speed setting. During the heating season, set the fans to turn clockwise on a lower speed, and this will help to gently distribute the warmed air.
- Improve Airflow to Every Room
The registers in each room need to have an adequate supply of air to help the HVAC system to work well. It’s important to check that there are no obstructions blocking the vents to ensure that the system is getting the air it needs. There should be 18” of free space around each vent, and you may need to rearrange window covering or furniture to ensure this need is met. If you cannot fulfill this need, you can use a magnetic air deflector to change the air direction away from any nearby furniture and improve air circulation in that room.
These are all simple ways to improve the air balancing in your home. There are other methods that can produce even better results, and a local HVAC technician can help.