How Redirecting Air Vents Can Improve HVAC Efficiency

Cool, fresh, uninterrupted airflow throughout your living space, from the air supply vents to the return grilles, performs a critical role in the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. If your air vents aren’t aimed or directed for ideal indoor comfort, there’s a high likelihood that you won’t get the most out of your unit — and could even end up shelling out more each month for energy bills. In this article, Custom Air Systems, a premier HVAC installation company, discusses how aiming, restricting and redirecting vents can improve airflow efficiency and make your day-to-day living experience more pleasant and restful.

What Are Air Vents?

Ducts are passages that deliver air to the rooms in your home and return the unconditioned air back to the system to be cooled once more. An air vent, in general, is an opening that allows air to flow into and out of a confined space, serving as an access point to the ducts running through your living space.

If your home is centrally heated and air conditioned, a number of vents are necessary to evenly distribute air, including returns, registers and grilles.

  • Supply vents. A supply vent refers to a vent that blows air into each room. The conditioned air comes from the furnace or air conditioner, travels through the ductwork, and exits out the supply vent. These vents are fairly easy to identify. If you feel hot or cold air blowing out, this is from a supply vent.

  • Return vents. On the other hand, a return vent pulls the air from each room and sends it back to the system. Some residences possess one large return vent, while others have smaller return vents found all over the house. Since return vents are generally larger in size compared to supply vents, you probably won’t feel any air coming from them.

  • Grilles. In HVAC installation, “grille” is a term used to describe the permanent metal covering installed over the vents, be they supply vents or return vents. Grilles are often found on ceilings, walls and floors. A grille doesn’t have a damper to control airflow, so air can flow freely.

  • Registers. A register is a grille with operable parts, capable of being opened and closed. It also includes a damper, a valve that regulates the flow of air, unlike a grille. A register is normally placed near a building opening, such as a door or window, where heating or cooling loss occurs the most. In rooms where it’s important to maintain a constant temperature, two returns and two registers will be utilized.

What Does Aiming and Redirecting Air Vents Entail?

Air that’s circulated through the house and has been returned to the system for additional conditioning is called return air. Once the return air is heated or cooled by your furnace or air conditioning unit, the treated air travels through the ductwork and exits out the supply vents that connect to your ceilings, walls or floors.

If your air vent can be fine-tuned or readjusted, you can position the blades to boost comfort, but this depends on the season and placement of your air vents. For example, if your air vent is located on the ceiling or upper walls, direct air conditioning airflow from the vent may feel too cold regardless of the current temperature setting on the thermostat due to the wind-chill factor.

What Is Restricting Airflow?

If your residence has rooms that are sitting empty most of the time, closing the air vents to shut off airflow to those areas can be a good idea. However, it’s crucial to take several possible scenarios into account that can occur due to closed air vents.

  • Air in the room can become stale. If your room smells musty and no longer feels fresh, it’s likely that the air inside has become stale. When indoor air starts to feel stuffy or reeks of an unpleasant odor, this is usually due to a buildup of certain substances and high levels of humidity in the air. Moreover, limiting airflow to certain rooms can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, contributing to stale, musty odors.

  • There’s an increase in static pressure. While closing air vents can increase the airflow in other air vents throughout the house, it also results in a notable increase in static pressure placed on those air ducts. Static pressure refers to airflow resistance in the ductwork. As a general rule, the push of air must be greater than the resistance to airflow. Otherwise, air will fail to circulate through the ducts.

  • The zoning system is compromised. A zoning system works by controlling the flow of treated air to different parts of the house using motorized dampers. Low-voltage motors for each zone close or open the dampers to allow or prevent your heating or air conditioning from flowing into the zone. Since it splits the living space into multiple zones that can be heated or cooled independently, it provides better thermal control and higher comfort levels.

Managing Airflow in Your Rooms

While standard vent covers shield your ducts from debris buildup and minimize drafts, they don’t direct airflow. If drafts are the main problem in your home, installing a vent diffuser can mitigate the issue. You may also install a Victorian-style cover with an eclectic design to diffuse airflow more effectively than a standard grille. To redirect air vents more precisely, vent deflectors are also a good alternative. This device sits over the vent to direct airflow away from curtains, plants and furniture and toward the center of the room to prevent disruptive breezes.

If you want to receive more air from a vent placed under a piece of furniture, install a vent extender. It’s shaped like a low, flat tunnel and allows more air to reach your living space. If you’re thinking about building cabinets over an air vent, make sure to create a toe kick or build a space into the bottom of the cabinet so heated or cooled air can escape.

Benefits of Redirecting Your Air Vents

  • It allows you to take advantage of natural airflow. If you want to maximize your heating and cooling system, keep your living space comfortable year-round, and save a significant amount on energy bills, redirecting your air vents can help tremendously. To accomplish this, let an HVAC professional identify the location of your air vents and adjust them accordingly based on the weather conditions in your area.

  • It minimizes airflow blockage. Most older homes weren’t built with optimal heating and cooling systems in mind, resulting in misplaced air vents throughout the space. Unfortunately, this can allow conditioned air to escape, compromising indoor comfort and causing energy bills to spike. To prevent this, redirect your air vents so they’re facing away from these openings.

Contact Us for All Your Heating and Air Conditioning Needs

If you’re looking for a top-rated heating, ventilation and air conditioning expert, turn to Custom Air Systems. Our certified technicians can provide equipment installation, tune-ups, cleaning, regular maintenance and much more. Our company aims to ensure the year-round comfort and efficiency each and every client deserves through industry-leading products and outstanding customer service. Call us at (281) 426-0067 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment or request a free, no-obligation estimate. We work with homeowners in Manvel, TX, and the surrounding communities.