I live in a three split level house, about 6 stairs separate the
floors. This is our first year in this house and we are worried about
a high heat bill in the winter. We have central heat and air with
floor air vents. These vents have small switches that can open and
close the air flow, yet it doesn't seal off completely all air flow. I
work from home and am hoping we can direct the heat to the lower and
middle levels during the day, while not heating the top level to save
on costs. Is there any kind of cover we can buy to completely seal off
air flow in the rooms not wanting heat?
My husband thinks we can just put cloth on top of the vents but this
seems like a fire hazard to me.
Any information would be helpful.
The cloth would not be a fire hazard in most situations but still not a
A certain % of the vents can be closed with the "switch" with no problem.
What % is the question. I would guess 20% of the total vents closed would be
safe in most installations. That is just a guess. 30% maybe as a max.
HVAC systems need to move a certain amount of air over the coils or heat
exchanger to avoid damaging the unit. Trust me on this one, the cost of a
new unit is far more than you will spend on utilities.
Heat rises so what I would suggest for the first attempt is to close a few
of the upstairs vents and fully open the ones in the lower level. How well
this works is going to depend on where the thermostat is located and how
much time you spend tweaking the system.
If you do not have really small children in the home a setback thermostat
that turns the heat down 5-10 degrees at bedtime and then warms the house
for morning can save you 10-15% on your bills. You can do this by hand, but
you will never remember all the time.
When you start closing vents, the big thing to watch out for is the furnace
turning off BEFORE the temperature is reached (cycling) this can indicate
too little air flow causing the high temp safety to shut down the furnace
because the heat exchanger has over-heated. This is a BAD thing. Do that
too much and you will be buying a new furnace.
There is the units operating temp at the heat exchanger, exceed it by
blindly closing vents and you can exceed the limit shortining its
life. You should measure the temp and learn about what you are doing.
Attic insulation is rarely at optimum levels and you might save more
than you will by shutting down rooms
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