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Are Smart Vents a Smart Idea?

Smart appliances are everywhere. We use them for everything. There are now smart refrigerators, smart trash cans, even smart litter boxes! I’m beginning to feel like Elroy Jetson. So, I wasn’t surprised when I came across a few articles in various tech publications that were touting the latest generation of smart air vents being manufactured. Full disclosure: we ran a blog about these gizmos a couple of years ago, but has our opinion changed after reviewing the latest models?

These smart vents claim to undertake a host of different functions, but their main selling point seems to be opening and closing via smartphone. As opposed to actually getting off the couch and doing it manually – a Herculean feat, for sure. Ultimately the free market will determine whether these contraptions become mainstream or a passing fad; what is concerning is propagating the myth whereby shutting vents save energy.

How a vent is opened and closed, by hand or electronically, is of little significance to the HVAC-conscious among us — by and large, vents shouldn’t be closed, period. It sounds counterintuitive, but closing a vent in a room where heating or cooling isn’t needed does NOT save energy. What’s more, it can cause strain on your HVAC system and damage air ducts.

The HVAC system in any given home is designed to efficiently heat and cool every square foot of the home, with the assumption that all vents are open simultaneously. Closing a vent not only causes system inefficiency, but it also causes backup inside the ducts. The increased air pressure can be such that air leaks are produced within the ductwork. Additionally, congestion has also been known to overheat furnaces and freeze-up air conditioners.

In cases where a home has unoccupied space that too often doesn’t require heating or cooling, zoned HVAC systems, or “mini-splits,” provide a solid long-term solution. If you’re still wondering whether closing vents will save energy, or you’re debating installing smart vents, contact a reputable HVAC contractor in your area.


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