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Dutchess_III's avatar

What is your opinion on closing off portions of your house to save on utility bills?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42852points) August 10th, 2010

This has been kind of a running disagreement between my husband and me. I say close off (via door or curtain, whatever) those rooms that you don’t spend that much time in so that you are only cooling / heating the area that you spend the most time in (the living room.) HE says that the AC / Heater works more “efficiently” if the house is open all the way around. The heating and air guys say the same, BUT my experience says it’s not so.

The way I figure it, the majority of the house doesn’t need to be comfortable. In the winter, take a warm shower in the chilly bathroom. Use extra blankets on the bed. The stove heats up the kitchen if you’re in there cooking…..and so on.

In my house, the thermostat is in the living room, where we “live” when not at work. From the living room we can “block off” the rest of the house, which I do via two curtains. (Really, it’s not as redneck as it sounds! They’re nice curtains! Kind of gives a Roman-tent feel to the house! IMO…anyways…) two days ago I took the curtains down to wash them. (Haven’t had a chance to wash them though, because our washer and dryer are on the back deck Which IS redneck, but only temporary as we’re laying new flooring) Since then I’ve noticed that I can’t keep my “living” area as cool at the normal thermostat settings, and I’m tempted to turn it down to a cooler temp/more utility use. This, to me, proves me right.

So, what say ye?

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13 Answers

doublebogie's avatar

I’ve done it. Closed off the up stairs, no one using it all the heat went up there. Good Luck!!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It all depends on how the heating in the house are set up. Is it baseboards, radiators or forced hot air? With baseboards, you can just shut off whatever you want. With radiators or forced air, you have to close it down by zones or be sure you haven’t blocked return air flow.

Our house was designed with the heating system in zones, which can be shut down room by room as needed (hydrionic, under-floor hot water heating). A great amount of our house isn’t used all the time, so we frequently do this in winter; we also supplement with fireplaces and woodstoves. The earth-sheltered design makes air conditioning unnecessary.

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with closing off unused rooms. Our furnace/ac expert says this is bad for the centralized system, so my solution to that is turn off the central heat and air and electric heat or cool each room we use separately.

It really is cheaper during the more mild weather, but for the extra hot (three digit heat) days and the extra cold days, cooling or heating the entire house is cheaper.

perspicacious's avatar

It matters if you have central or zone heating. I have two central units—one upstairs and one downstairs. At night I run the one upstairs and during the day I run the one downstairs. If others are here I sometimes have to run both all of the time. If you have zone H/AC it makes sense to only cool the rooms you use. Sometimes I spend the whole day in my home office which has a small window unit AC. On those days I don’t run the central air, I just cool the office with the window unit.

If all you have is one central unit, the electric company here says to go ahead and cool the whole house.

Austinlad's avatar

I’ve tried it a few times in my two-story house in summer with only one central unit and it’s never made any room cooler, only the room shut off hotter.

Cruiser's avatar

Depends on the heating system, but for the most part your husband is right in that modern forced air heating/conditioning systems are designed to move air through the house and the system to most efficiently. Closing off a room will choke off not only the air return but then overload that side of the houses system with air that has no where to go. Your system is out of balance and may either make the system work harder than it needs to or now not hard enough as only a portion of the system is allowed to move air. Plug up one nostril and try breathing through your nose for an example of what I am talking about.

Kraigmo's avatar

I know that your theory can really screw up an office or a large house with multiple thermostat points.

But your observation that it works in your house real… since your house is average sized I assume. I’ve noticed that closing off certain areas has always worked in every place I’ve ever lived.

downtide's avatar

My house only has five rooms (not including hallway and landing) and there’s four adults plus a large dog living in it. We’ve no option for closing off anything.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@downtide Well, yeah! When I had kids their bedrooms were upstairs. Of course I didn’t shut them off!

@perspicacious I’d take anything the utility company suggests with a grain of salt!

@cruiser The air return isn’t blocked.

perspicacious's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would not. I am retired from one. It’s regulated and those offerings go through the Public Utility Commission. Also, you can see that your bill will not change if you try to close off rooms when you have central H/AC. I’ve read it other places as well.

mattbrowne's avatar

No heating in rooms we don’t use much during winter time. My parents did it this way. We do it this way. It’s not that we can’t afford it, but we feel bad hurting planet Earth when it’s totally unnecessary.

SmartAZ's avatar

I agree. I just typed a long rant HERE that also applies to your question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I saw. My husband and I still disagree.

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