Austin Air Companie Blog : Posts Tagged ‘HVAC zoned system’

HVAC Zone Systems

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

In Katy, Texas HVAC zone systems can play an important role at delivering the comfort you want in the area of a structure you spend the most time in. Example: The master bedroom suite in your home, 1/3 of your life is spent in that room on average. If it’s not comfortable, that’s going to feel like an eternity of restless nights.

This Katy Texas air conditioning blog post is primarily for the reason that more people are inquiring about such options. This information is provided in addition to a page on this website devoted to this topic. (You can read that information here.) This is a more complex HVAC subject that sometimes ranges from a long list of gadgets that try to mimic such systems and on further up the chain from the dizzying array of garbage that has come to market over the past several years from the so called gadget makers of the world.

This add on gadget niche market is a billion dollar market and primarily it’s mostly a waste for a climate like Katy, Texas. The reason is: Humidity.

If you live in a less extreme climate than Katy, Texas a gadget might be all you need. As an example: the plain states. Summers are typically 3 months long there. Humidity is there one minute and gone the next. No real problem to the extent we have it in Katy, Texas.

HVAC is a location dependent market. What is recommended for one climate is spendthrift spending for another. If you choose a low end gadget for a solution in an extreme climate it won’t be long until you find this air conditioning blog again or maybe wished you had found it sooner. (This is another reason why the internet is a dangerous place to search for things HVAC for an extreme climate. Most websites do not separate the various climate conditions across the USA. I am in Katy, Texas and this topic is devoted to that location. Your location could be similar or vastly different with entirely different concerns.)

What Is A HVAC Zone System

If you have a single HVAC system in your home, it is zoned for the entire area of your home. If you have 2 HVAC systems in your home, it is zoned for 2 specific areas of your home.

Another way to picture zoning is to think about light switches in your home. You have a light switch in every room of your home. If you only had one light switch all the lights would be on in your home by turning that single light switch on.

So using that example compared to your HVAC system(s) you have a single thermostat or ‘switch’ in which the HVAC system is turned on or off. When the HVAC system is on, it cools the entire zone in which it was designed to heat or cool. (In most cases this means the entire house.)

But if you don’t have but a few people in your home you can only be in one place at a time. So in many cases the cooling and or heating is merely wasted to areas of the home that are largely unused.

To clarify this more I include a few embedded videos on the subject below. Realize these videos were made in 2013. I have installed zone systems at my own home over 10 years ago that still works and is used quite hard today (2019). I am in this business to do it right, this is what I do for a living. If you are looking for some ‘cheap fix’ stop right here. There is no need for you to continue, because if this is your intent you are more interested in wasting money on junk that if it does work, will not work for long — temperature constantly changes does it not? You can not have it both ways in my opinion. My opinion is based on 24 years of doing this for a living.

Note: The videos embedded above were made in 2013. Newer better advances have been made in HVAC equipment efficiency since these videos were made that when paired with a HVAC zone system are better capable to achieve monetary efficiency savings. Pairing a HVAC zone system that consists of a single speed air conditioner will only give you better control of temperature in your home. Any efficiency gains will be minor, when it comes to single speed AC equipment. I keep these older videos to show I have been doing this a long time (24 years) and I know what I am talking about because of doing, not just talking about it.

Will A HVAC Zone System Save Money

This answer is complicated. As an example lets go back to the light switch example. You buy a house that has a single light switch. That single light switch turns on all the lights in the house.

So you add switches to all the rooms of the house, but the switches while they are now zoned to every room any single switch you turn on still turns on all the lights at once. It’s more convenient because you now have a light switch in each room.

That’s preposterous! Who would do such a thing? Someone who is cheap, that’s who. Because to ‘properly’ zone each light switch would entail ‘more work & materials’. You get what you pay for.

So how does this relate to a HVAC system? Most air conditioners are single stage units. They are either on or off. So if you add a zone system you are merely redirecting the same amount of cooling used to cool the whole zone. That doesn’t equate to monetary savings. Because the system is still doing the same amount of work.

The zone you are only wanting to cool in most cases is typically around a ton of cooling (12,000 BTU’s) Typically most home systems are 3 ton to 5 ton.

So if this is your goal this situation isn’t going to work as well as you think it will in terms of monetary savings. HVAC zone systems are more or less niche specialty products. Anyone can do it, but extremely few get the kind of life out of them that I do with only minor problems after the install is complete. Why? because I (Ray Austin) am a hands on guy, in a world decorated with subs, installers, under achievers and manufacturer’s of junk. I don’t sub out install work. The name of my company is my last name. It’s not made up. I want to be known for solutions that work.

Design is critical and the person doing the work is responsible for the design. If you don’t view things in these terms for our climate (Katy, Texas) Failure will be the result, and the other con in all of this is that the system is designed to work in hot weather, just as much as cooler weather. We run our systems 2200 hours per year with set points of 75 degrees. If you run your system at temps lower than 75 degrees you could easily be approaching 3000 hours a year!

With that said, HVAC zone systems are not a magical cure to an otherwise failing system. HVAC zone systems are a tool in the tool bag for specific situations. The home (your home) must be viewed in person to make these kinds of conclusions. If your home is not a good fit for a zone system I will tell you. I am only here to do it right. If you want something other than ‘done right’ by me then you and I will not be a good fit.

I fix air conditioning & heating systems for a living it’s what I do. I do not fix people or their expectations. I am one guy servicing hundreds of previous customers plus new customers on a fairly regular basis. I don’t have time to go back and ‘play around’. Experience is the invisible thing you are paying for here. If you don’t like these comments: I have a song for you, it’s titled ‘I can’t make you love me’.

Anything I sell you, I have one condition. It has to work. That is what a solution is. A solution is something that fixes a problem and doesn’t create new problems. I don’t think I can make this any more clear.

So why don’t you go out and hire some help? LOL. What? So my job will consist of going back and solving dumb mistakes. I can’t be all things to all people. So if this is your view, we again will not be a good fit.

Why You Won’t Save Money With A HVAC Zone System

If HVAC zone systems are the Lamborghini’s of the AC world then certainly if you poked around the engine compartment you probably would like see some incredible engine capable of delivering results. Right?

GIGO is an acronym for garbage in / garbage out. If you put garbage into a system you aren’t going to get anything but garbage out. So because air conditioning is quantified in tons (12,000 btu’s is a ton of air conditioning) over supply of conditioned air is paid for regardless if you merely redirect it to a smaller part of the structure.

Efficiency is a often confused term. Many think this term is related only to dollars. It’s not when it’s talked about in HVAC land. Efficiency can relate to what is wasted versus what is used.

So in that sense it’s not completely about money saved via operational cost, necessarily.

As an efficiency example: a gas furnace is inefficient compared to an electric strip heat furnace or air handler. Why? because a gas furnace generates waste that goes up a flue pipe, heat is lost in that waste. Electric resistance heat there is no waste. 1 BTU in = 1 BTU out. Now that’s efficient! But you get the bill for your electric furnace (AH) and you pass out because it’s $500 for one month. Because gas rates are cheaper than electric rates. This is why efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it does in the land of HVAC.

Efficiency is not gained in terms of dollars saved if you take a single stage air conditioner rated at 3 tons or more capacity and then redirect that cooling to cool an area of the home that only requires a fraction of that capacity.

In this situation it’s more about comfort, than savings. Because you are still paying for 3 tons of air conditioning. If the compressor is running that work (3 tons, 4 tons, 5 tons) whatever it is you are still paying for it.

You don’t magically create monetary efficiency by merely redirecting air flow. Efficiency in terms of dollars saved is what I am referring to here.

How You Can Save Money With A HVAC Zone System

In terms of the Lamborghini example given above the zone system is a part of the system, but system design and equipment selection are just as important. In order for a Lamborghini to be a Lamborghini you buy the whole car, not just part of it. If you took the tires from a Lamborghini and put them on your car imagine the laughter that would ensue if you challenged a sports car to a race with your shiny new Lamborghini tires fastened to of all things a 1979 pinto.

The best HVAC system for delivering the best over all efficiencies in terms of monetary savings are those that have the ability to ramp up and down as the cooling load dictates.

Cooling loads vary, due to climate conditions and structural characteristics that can vary widely from one home or other structure to the next. If you match an air conditioner capable of delivering the required capacity of a single room in a zoned structure you will save money that way. Because the system is designed for it. Realize that as summer heat comes the load of the structure changes. What once needed 9000 BTU’s of cooling may require 12,000 BTU’s or more. This is why a fully variable inverter AC system is the better choice for an extreme AC climate like Katy, Texas.

Because the less work the compressor has to do, the less your electric bill will be. Most air conditioning compressors are single stage. The next equipment grade up is 2 speed. Years ago there were dual compressor models. Today (2019 and beyond) there are fully variable or inverter compressors.

While a 2 speed air conditioner would be better than a single speed compressor your savings will not be that significant because in 1st speed the 2 speed unit will run in roughly 70% of capacity of the rated capacity of the system.

In most cases 70% rated capacity is still too much to get much pay back from in terms of monetary savings when paired with a HVAC zone system. If designed properly it will give you better performance but in most cases the pay back in monetary terms aren’t significant.

No Free Lunch In HVAC Operation Costs

So you live in Katy, Texas and decide to try to cut your energy costs, namely the good old electric bill. This year (2019) the rates have been going up again. Problem is utility rates can be largely determined by how many kilowatts of power you use every month.

If you’re lucky enough to only use 1000 kilowatts per month your electric bill is lower but the price you pay per kilowatt is often times higher than those that use 2000 kilowatts or more per month. Why is this important?

Because if you’re at 2000 kilowatts now and you find a way to drop down to under 2000 kilowatts by upgrading your AC systems you may wind up increasing your electric bill instead of reducing it. How’s that for irony?

Solar is not necessarily the answer either. In Texas there is a strong power lobby. The power lobby doesn’t want people generating their own power. So if you go down the road of a solar system you certainly do not want to generate any excess electricity and in some cases your choices may be extremely limited to a grid tied provider. You will need a grid tied provider other wise the cost of such systems can be not worth the trouble. The main reason is that power is for the most part too cheap for solar to be a real option for Texans.

You May Not Need A HVAC Zoned System

Every house has it’s own unique set of challenges in regards to comfort. Some people like 80 degrees, some people like 75 degrees and a few like it 70 or a few clicks below that.

But you know what the biggest problem for this climate in Katy, Texas is? Humidity. So when you mix hot plus humidity what do you get? Hodity. Maybe you watched the video in which I joke around about such things. There are reasons I do such things. It’s not just about cracking jokes.

Lots of people that live in this climate ‘DO NOT’ realize the role of humidity and how much havoc it brings you in terms of the comfort level you desire in your home. Air conditioning provides some dehumidification. But in a high humid climate like ours a single stage air conditioner doesn’t deliver enough dehumidification in most cases.

Given my experience of 24 years solving these types of problems and more I know that if I drop the humidity level in your home a mere 5%, the comfort problems you were having up to 95% of them disappear.

If you chose a properly designed and installed inverter AC system 100% of those problems would disappear. Because these systems are designed to run longer, they dehumidify the air better thus reducing humidity in the home.

By reducing humidity in the home, you will feel more comfortable even at higher temperatures.

For our climate in Katy, Texas, humidity control is the name of the game. The better your HVAC system dehumidifies the air, the better your comfort will be. The bonus is you will save money on operation costs too. (Provided you don’t fall in between the cracks of usage amounts determined by your utility provider.)

Thanks for visiting with me today, I hope your day is comfortable.

About the author of the #1 Katy, Texas Air Conditioning blog:
My name is Ray Austin. I am the owner and operator of Austin Air Companie, a HVAC Service Company serving Katy, Texas | Cypress, Texas | Richmond, Texas and some surrounding areas. I am a ‘SKILLED’ Texas Licensed HVAC Contractor with 24 years experience in Air Conditioning and Heating Systems as of June 2019. I hold an AOS degree in HVAC/R, EPA universally certified to handle any refrigerant and NATE certified in HVAC installations and repairs.

Whether you need zoning, single stage, 2 stage, inverter AC or even just a regular old fashioned air conditioner repair, you can be assured you are in the right place. Call Ray Austin today!

Austin Air Companie
“Your home comfort from A to Z”
Air Conditioning | Controls | Heating | Zoning

A Ray Austin HVAC Service Company

For more Air Conditioning Information:
Katy, Tx AC blog, service and repair videos,
tips and everything air conditioning and heating
for your home you can always visit me on my main website @

Better Service. Done Right. On Time. Guaranteed.




Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

How do I make my air conditioning and heating system more efficient without sacrificing “ANY” comfort?

If you’ve ever read about the infamous free tips that many offer on this subject you will quickly skip over those suggestions if you live in the Katy, Texas | Cypress, Texas and some surrounding areas.

Sure you can do these “free” ac tips and while they will cut costs they come at a price in the comfort department many will refuse to entertain. I’ll give you some of the “free AC cost cutting tips” later on within this Home AC efficiency & extreme comfort blog post.

You see making a home air conditioning and heating system more efficient without any sacrifice to comfort is a complex task that involves serious technical know how. Without this technical know how, attempting this could damage and quite possibly ruin your current HVAC system. I am talking about more than just simply upgrading your AC system to a new higher efficient box or what is commonly referred to as High SEER HVAC Equipment. You can replace your home HVAC equipment and cut operating costs, but this blog post goes much further and takes this HVAC efficiency & home comfort solutions to the “extreme” delivering the best home comfort imaginable.

What I am about to tell you is nothing new… it has been available for some time now. I installed one of these in my own home over 7 years ago, have made countless videos showing what I pay for utilities and do my best to explain the comfort I get. How do you explain true comfort in text and video? It’s a feeling… to know the feeling you have to have experienced it.

Thankfully, I can describe this feeling to you due to “seasonal” changes in the weather. It gives a much clearer description than anything I can think of. You know what it feels like when you wake up on a crisp autumn day? It’s not cold, it’s not hot… the air is just “crisp”. That is the kind of comfort I am talking about.

I get this kind of comfort every day in any room of my house that I choose to occupy and not just during the autumn season when the outdoor weather helps most people’s AC system out. Part of the reason for this type of HVAC system is to boost efficiency, but that isn’t the only reason. The other reason is extreme home comfort in any room within the house. If you have rooms in your home that are not comfortable no matter what you do — this is probably the solution you’ve been looking for.

Anything that is “extreme” you would expect some serious challenges. For anything that is worth something there are obstacles that will stand in your way. The easy way is to admit defeat, keep living in discomfort and instead of paying me once for better comfort and a system that pays for itself while increasing the value of the home, some would rather pay the utility company a higher rate than they should be for comfort they are not getting month in and month out. There’s nothing wrong with either home owner, except one is more comfortable than the other and is paying less to cool and heat their home.

“We choose to do things,
not because they are easy,
but because they are hard.”
~John F. Kennedy

First you have to realize that hard things are not insurmountable, unless you are prone to giving up. The problem is that perceived value tends to chase the “lower cost” solution, even though the “higher cost” solution solves the actual problem fully and completely. The lower cost solution will work to a different shade or “feeling” of comfort. When it comes time to sell the home however, the home has no advantage over a home that has one of these types of systems installed.

Which home would you want, now that you are learning the difference?

There are ways to cut costs even with this solution, but if this system pays for itself while providing the best comfort possible and increases the value of the home isn’t this a moot point?

I am not one to make excuses and give up. I am a problem solver by nature. It’s what I do more or less everyday of the year as a Texas Licensed HVAC Contractor serving the Katy, Texas area. (TACLB28416E)

The number one rule to problem solving is to solve a problem right?

WRONG. The number one rule to problem solving is to solve a problem without creating additional problems. Otherwise you’re not solving anything. Right?

In other words… it just works. Well if you’ve bought anything in the past you’ve read the blather about how great something is only to find out later after the purchase things aren’t so well.

Why is that? Something as simple as solving a problem that creates additional different problems. That’s it in a nutshell…. they weren’t really problem solving. Take a pill and get 5 additional problems (side effects) than the one you are trying to solve is a easy way to fully describe this.

I tell you these things in this manner so that anyone reading this will fully understand this HVAC comfort solution requires an “INVESTMENT” this is not a gimmick. There are additional conditions that are required as well. I won’t even offer you the solution if your home doesn’t allow me to solve your problem without creating additional problems. What would the point be if I can’t make you happy with the purchase?

If you can’t afford an investment that will pay for itself over time and increase the value of your home you can always try the following “free AC efficiency tips”.

1. Turn the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.
That’s right make yourself hotter in the summer and colder in the winter.

2. Turn on fans through out your house.
Living in a wind tunnel is not my idea of home comfort. Maybe you can live with it. I can not.

3. Don’t cook in the kitchen…
So I’m real sorry, there won’t be any aspiring chefs in your family. The people who wrote this one probably own half a dozen restaurants.

4. Plant trees and shrubs to shade your home.
Increase your water bill and maintenance costs. Everyone who lives in this area know what it’s like to have a dead tree in their yard due to drought. If the outdoor temp hits 100 the shade won’t be much cooler.

All these “free AC tip suggestions” attempt to solve the problem of a high AC bill, but neglect the comfort problem. Is this problem solving? I don’t think so… that is the difference between me and “them”.

I think and hope by now you should clearly see my point. Like different shades and resolution of high definition television sets so too are there different shades and “feelings” of home comfort.

Now that utility costs have been coming down somewhat in recent years you may be at a position that what you pay for electricity “isn’t that bad”. I like to call this the “well, it’s not too bad syndrome”. The real question is how bad is bad?

You’ll only really know for sure if you investigate it. Take me as an example. My total electric bill for August 2014 was $73.19. I live in a 30 plus year old home with just over 1700 sq feet. I run my central air conditioner 24/7 at 76 during the day and 74 at night. My utility rate was 10.7 cents per KWH for this time period and includes all charges for that month. With that said I have videos on my YouTube channel that clearly show what I pay for electricity since 2011. I don’t just throw around a bunch of hot air without proof. Whether you believe it or not after that fact well that’s entirely up to you. I know we live in a scam a minute world so I made these videos for your benefit, not mine. To help you ascertain truth from fiction.

The key here is I only cool or heat the portion of my home I am using.
What I am talking about here is a Zoned HVAC System. Watch the 2 HVAC zoning videos that are embedded below here. These videos best describe what this is all about and what is possible in home comfort. After watching the videos continue reading the text below them for further insight. (The videos will direct you to my main website, you can go there later on if you want.)

Now that you have a better understanding of what I am talking about you will have a better idea if this is something you want to explore or not. If a zoned HVAC system is not for you there are other approaches to get better comfort with reduced operational costs. However, those options will not exceed all expectations in all areas of the home as a properly designed and installed HVAC zone system would.

Your house may decide this for you. I won’t install an air conditioning and heating zoned system in just any home. Remember I have a rule with problem solving, if you don’t remember that rule you really should reread this entire blog post.

Most HVAC zoned systems are designed improperly. This is a primary source of traffic for my website and a primary source that tend to claim air conditioning and heating zoned systems don’t work. The design of an HVAC zone system is critical, so critical that I spend 30 to 40 hours and maybe in very difficult cases as much as 50 hours just designing them specifically to the characteristics of the home. This doesn’t include installation time. I do all of this myself. There is to my knowledge, no other air conditioning company like Austin Air Companie. If you live way outside my service area of Katy, Texas my suggestion is that you look for a “working HVAC contractor” in your area. That is really your best option.

Can a HVAC zoned system increase the value of your home?

Yes, it can. Especially in a hot tropical location like Katy, Texas and Cypress, Texas. But you have to inform potential buyers what you have. I tell my customers to save their electric bills… make the comparison from old electric bills to the ones after the HVAC zoned system has been installed. The only down side to selling a home with a HVAC zoned system installed by me?

You will likely have to install another zoned air conditioning system in your new house. Once you live with this kind of comfort there is no comparison to anything else.

Ok, here is another myth. “You have to replace your current HVAC system to install a HVAC zoned system.” Not necessarily so. However, if your AC system is over 10 years old it would be best to start over for a multitude of reasons… many of them pointing to efficiency and reliability reasons alone. A HVAC zone system will not magically solve all current problems you have with your HVAC system, inspection and diagnosis shouldn’t be taken for granted.

A HVAC zone system is hard and complex to operate? Sure, they can be. This comes down to design. The HVAC zoned systems I design and install are simple to operate and nothing different than you currently do now except that you have multiple thermostats that control different zones or “areas” of your home.

Do you offer other solutions other than HVAC zoned systems?

Yes, absolutely. The national average life of an HVAC system is roughly 15 years. Slightly less than this in my service area in and around Katy, Texas. Because people don’t experience air conditioning issues very often they may not be aware of what is available today to give the best comfort possible, the best efficiency possible while also paying for itself and increasing the value of the home.

You have a central air conditioning system for comfort. Can you imagine paying for it via an electric bill every month and not being truly comfortable? Now that you’ve read this entire blog post you know what true comfort feels like… a crisp autumn morning in Katy, Texas. Use that threshold to compare with the comfort your current system is delivering.

Thank you for visiting with me today. I hope your day is extremely comfortable.

    About the author of this blog:

My name is Ray Austin. I am the owner and operator of Austin Air Companie serving Katy, Texas | Cypress, Texas and some surrounding areas. I am a Texas Licensed HVAC Contractor with over 20 years experience in Air Conditioning and Heating Systems. I hold an AOS degree in HVAC/R, EPA universally certified to handle any refrigerant and NATE certified in HVAC installations and repairs.

Austin Air Companie
“Your home comfort from A to Z”
Air Conditioning | Controls | Heating | Zoning

For more information you can always visit me on my main website @

Better Stuff. Done Right. On Time. Guaranteed.