Usually when it comes to saving energy with smart devices, you think of thermostats, lights, and even sprinklers. You probably don’t consider automatic air duct dampers.
However, air duct dampers are a great way to control which rooms receive heat and air. Instead of heating the whole house, you can choose how the heat flows. Manual dampers can be difficult to use, but their smarter, automatic counterparts change all that.
Benefits of Automatic Air Duct Dampers
Automatic air duct dampers work similarly to the manual versions. However, they have a small motor that allows you to adjust the air flow and temperature room by room using a remote system.
The damper is installed in the duct work. As you might have guessed, if the duct is difficult to reach, adjusting things manually defeats the purpose of the damper.
Another major benefit is the cost savings. Since it’s easier to adjust the automatic dampers, you’ll use them more often. The majority of your energy costs typically come from heating and cooling. By adjusting how much air flows into individual rooms or areas, you can drastically reduce your costs.
Your total savings will vary based on how you use your dampers. Initially, your savings will simply pay for the dampers, but after that, you’ll start to see monthly energy savings.
One final benefit is you can control some automatic duct dampers with your smart thermostat if you already have one. This allows you to combine two energy-saving devices for even better savings.
Choosing an Automatic Air Duct Damper
The first step is to choose the right automatic air duct dampers for your needs. A damper helps divide your home into zones. You can install more than one damper to divide your home the way you want. You’ll also need a zone controller to further control the dampers. One other thing to check for is compatibility with your HVAC system.
Some of the top-rated automatic dampers include:
- Speedi-Collar – Provides six adjustable settings and a tight seal to better regulate air flow.
- SmartZone Zone Damper – Choose between a variety of sizes to best fit your HVAC system. Includes a low power motor to save you money.
- Suncourt – Suncourt offers two lines of dampers: motorized airflow control dampers and automated airflow control dampers. These are more difficult to install but highly effective at controlling air flow. They work best with Insteon systems.
If you’re unsure what may be compatible, contact your local HVAC service provider to find out. They can also help with installation.
Using Zone Controllers
Once the damper itself is installed, you need a way to remotely control it. A zone controller works as the middle-man between your damper and your thermostat. They also allow you to use the damper to create more zones, such as rooms, floors, or specific areas.
Always double-check for compatibility with your damper and your thermostat before buying. Overall, SmartZone controllers tend to be the most compatible. The most popular zone controllers include:
- SmartZone 2X – Offers controls for up to two zones, compatible with most systems, easy to install, and includes a five-year warranty.
- SmartZone 4X – Offers controls for four to twenty zones, works with most systems, most any smart thermostat can be used, includes a fresh air feature, and boasts an economy mode for more savings.
- Honeywell TrueZONE Panel – Though less compatible, it does offer support for up to three zones with individual temperature control settings for each.
Adding a Smart Thermostat
The final thing you need to make everything work as easily as possible is a smart thermostat. If you’re using SmartZone controllers, most thermostats are compatible. Choose from ecobee, Nest, Honeywell, and more.
If you already have a smart thermostat, ensure your zone controller is compatible before you buy one; otherwise, your automatic air duct dampers won’t be nearly as easy to control.
The process of installing everything can be intimidating. While instructions come with each product you buy, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, hire someone to do it. If things aren’t installed correctly, you can damage your heating and air system. When installed properly, you’ll save much more energy and money, which is always a good thing.