As a homeowner, one of your primary goals should be to keep your energy bills at the minimum level without compromising on your indoor comfort levels. This is a tricky balancing act at times, and any steps that you can take to achieve this goal are worth further investigation. After all, it’s estimated that the cooling and heating costs in the majority of homes account for almost 50% of the energy use. By optimizing the energy efficiency, we can make our HVAC systems more efficient and reduce our energy bills. There are many methods to boost energy efficiency, but some of them are old wives’ tales that may even have a detrimental effect on your efforts. In this article, we will focus on one of these, closing doors to reduce cooling and heating costs, does this work? Let’s find out.
Closing Doors to Reduce Energy Bills
Can this really work? Well, in a word, no, but the reasons for this are pretty complex, and it’s well worth understanding why we believe this old wives tale. In the past, before the modern heating system, the heated air was created in a room by a fireplace. In this scenario, closing the door is a pretty good idea if you don’t want the heat to escape. But, in a modern home, heating doesn’t work in this direct method, and closing doors can have the opposite effect for the following two reasons; it changes the air flow and the air pressure in the rooms in your home.
Examining Air Flow and Air Pressure
In a modern home, the installed HVAC system is designed to operate in a very specific way. The entire heating and cooling system relies on moving treated air throughout the home to cool or heat the entire space. Of course, registers can be closed in specific rooms, and zones can be designated in more advanced systems to avoid supplying treated air to areas where it’s not needed. This is useful to avoid paying for energy when certain areas in the home are not occupied. But, the treated air is usually delivered via a network of ducts and so keeping the doors closed doesn’t help at all.
In fact, if you close doors, it’s possible to create restrictions on where the treated air can actually move and circulate. This will create a change in air pressure that can only be alleviated by leaking out of your home. So, instead of exchanging the cooled or heated air inside your home, it’s likely that you will be exchanging it outdoors. This leads to a loss in both performance and energy efficiency.
When you close a door during heating or cooling, it actually makes the envelope of your home less secure. The treated air will begin to leak out of your home because of the instability in air pressure that has been created. The HVAC system will also be denied the air flow that is required to effectively cool or heat the home. This can cause the system to become overworked; this could lead to component failures, unnecessary repair bills, and even a reduction in the useful lifespan of your HVAC equipment. There are other potential problems caused by altering the airflow and air pressure in your home when the HVAC system is operating.
4 Potential HVAC Unsecure Home Envelope Problems
If you close one or more doors in your home when your HVAC system is running, you may experience some or all of the following potential problems.
- Increased Breakdown Risks
We briefly mentioned this above. Changing the airflow and air pressure can have a detrimental effect on the sensitive components in your HVAC system. In fact, a change in the home envelope is typically the main reason for either a heat pump or furnace failure in many homes. These are expensive repairs, and in many cases, an entire replacement may be needed.
- Higher Energy Bills
When the airflow and air pressure are altered to be out of sync with your HVAC system, it can cause a number of problems. This is one of the main reasons why a load calculation is required to size the HVAC system to the home in the first place. When the profile of the home is changed, the HVAC system may need to work harder and for longer to compensate. This will lead to more energy being used and higher energy bills.
- Strained HVAC Equipment
This increase in the work that your HVAC system needs to perform to reach the desired temperature set on your thermostat has other costs. Aside from the more frequent repairs, the actual useful lifespan of the system may also be reduced significantly. The HVAC system in your home represents a significant investment, and it makes sense to protect is as much as possible. Regular annual maintenance will help, but if you change the home envelope, the system will have to work much harder in order to compensate. Closing doors should be avoided as much as possible; this is a simple way to avoid installing a new HVAC system earlier than you need to.
- A Reduction in Indoor Comfort
When the home is pressurized in a way that alters how the HVAC system can operate, it will have a detrimental effect on the indoor comfort. Even with good levels of insulation, the outdoor air can be allowed in, and the treated air that you paid for will be forced outside. This may lead to overworking the equipment as shown above, but the attempts to continually adjust the cooling or heating will also take a toll. It will be harder to get the home to a comfortable and stable temperature that everyone can live with. This is equally true in the summer and winter months.
If you want to know more about keeping your home comfortable throughout the year efficiently, contact your local HVAC specialist for help and advice. Regular servicing and maintenance is a great way to prepare your home for the heating and cooling season ahead.