Will Closing Bedroom Doors Help Save on Heating and Cooling Costs?

By Angie's List

Leave doors open for best energy use in your home

Shutting off unused rooms and vents seems like common sense, but doing so may raise your energy consumption.

The heating and cooling system in your home is designed to maintain a constant temperature, no matter the season. In the height of summer or dead of winter, though, the cost of running your A/C or furnace can quickly increase, leaving homeowners scrambling to improve energy efficiency.

One common suggestion is to close bedroom doors, but can you save energy by closing doors?

The idea behind leaving a bedroom door closed, or shutting HVAC vents in unused rooms, to improve efficiency is that it limits the amount of air movement required, as well as the space that needs to be heated or cooled.

In turn, this should lower costs and save money on utility bills.

On the surface, this makes sense. The unoccupied room behind the closed door doesn't need to be the same temperature as the rest of the house. Instead of cooling a 2,000-square-foot-home, for example, a few closed bedroom doors could drop the number of square feet that needs to be temperature-controlled to 1,700 or even 1,500.

Simple cost savings, right? Not exactly.

Closed doors obstruct airflow

In fact, the reverse is true, according to the nonprofit publication Home Energy.

When interior doors are closed, the room is placed under pressure because airflow is now blocked. Air trapped in the pressurized bedroom, however, doesn't stay contained. It will find ways to escape.

Any air lost is replaced in an equal amount, which can increase the amount of air being drawn from 300 percent to 900 perfect, significantly increasing utility bills.

This replacement air comes through the chimney, water heater or furnace flue, and it creates a steady draft in your home. Because the air isn't coming through your HVAC system, it isn't being filtered, which means it contains everything from dirt and dust to humidity and carbon monoxide (CO).

The result can be damage to your home or danger to the occupants in the form of high CO levels or possible mold growth that can make you sick.

How to improve energy efficiency

Several options are available to solve this problem, starting with cutting out a small section (approximately 14 inches) at the bottom of the door. Homeowners, however, usually don't want to see their bedroom doors chopped up, even for energy efficiency.

You can also choose to put in what are known as "transfer grills". These grills allow air to flow between hallways and bedrooms, but are opaque and can be placed into a door, above a door frame or beside the door.

If you choose to install a transfer grill, it's always a good idea to hire a qualified HVAC contractor. Improperly installed, transfer grills won't circulate airflow as efficiently as they should.

In addition, not all doors are suited for a grill - professionals will be able to tell you if what you have works or if you will need to replace your door.

Click here to see the original article on Angie's List.

Find out more ways to save energy in your home. Check out these 10 Energy Saving Tips.

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