Should I close vents in unused roomsWith the cost of energy going up all of the time, many people are asking the same question. Should I close vents in unused rooms and try to reduce the amount of energy used to heat their homes?  Depending on the method of heating your home shutting off the heating system in a room or closing a vent in a room can decrease the amount of natural gas, heating oil, or electricity that is used through the winter, however there are several items to verify before you take this step.

The first is to make sure that there is nothing in the room that would suffer from not being heated. Any plants should be removed particularly if they are susceptible to the cold.  Some plants are quite sturdy and will go into a dormant state until it warms up again. They take less water as well so you will need to reduce the amount of water you give them.

Should I close vents in unused rooms – Water Pipes?

The other major reason that can be a problem when you shut off the heat is water pipes that could freeze as a result of not having a room heated. Water pipes to bathrooms etc are typically installed inside walls that are on the interior of the home. These pipes are kept warm by both rooms on either side being kept at a reasonable temperature well above freezing. Some water pipes are installed inside exterior walls and are kept from freezing by only the room that they are in. If this happens to be the room that you decide to turn the heat off i.e. close a heating vent or turn off the electrical heating system for that room, there is a real possibility that the pipes located in the exterior wall could freeze solid if the outside temperature goes below 32 degrees.

If the pipes are full of water and they freeze, the water expands as it turns to ice and cracks the pipe allowing water to leak out and damage the walls, floors and rooms below the leak. This can be a major expense in damage if the leak is not dealt with quickly. Some insurance companies will not cover these damages either in situations where the heat has been turned off and the water pipes have not been drained.

Bottom line if you are concerned that frozen water pipes could do a lot of damage in the winter when a room is not heated, do NOT turn the heating system off or close a vent. The damage in dollar terms can be extensive and it is just not worth taking the chance. Your potential savings will be wiped out.

During the summer time, this same room can be left alone and not cooled to save some energy. Closing vents and not cooling the room will not result in any damage. remove any plants which might suffer from higher temperatures.