Energy Savings from Residential Zoned Air Distribution Systems

living room with vent

Update: October 2021

The literature identified in the study emphasizes multizone systems’ potential to reduce cooling energy loads, but with fewer potential reductions in space heating savings. Through interviews with distributors, contractors, and U.S. utilities, CEE found that energy efficiency incentives for multizone systems, which are not currently provided by utilities, would help increase market penetration. To continue this research, CEE has started modeling residential single and multizone systems and will develop two to four prototype Minnesota single-family houses. These prototypes will evaluate the change in energy use and improved comfort of both single-zone constant air volume and multizone distribution systems.


Single-zone constant air volume systems are standard in most Minnesota homes. They can lead to temperature variations and increased energy use from over-heating and over-cooling. These problems often occur in basements, on second floors, and on sunny sides of the house. Multizone variable air volume (VAV) systems offer a solution.

This white paper will explore the potential to apply newly available zoning equipment for new and existing air distribution systems. Anecdotal evidence has shown that poorly designed and implemented systems can lead to low airflow and cycling problems — the assessment will include system requirements to avoid these problems. We will use EnergyPlus models of standard Minnesota home configurations to estimate zoned system energy savings.

Project Summary


This project will assess the energy savings opportunities for residential zoned air distribution systems and identify current and future system configurations for Minnesota’s residential market to determine the potential statewide energy savings.


  • Task 1: Technology assessment
  • Task 2: Market research
  • Task 3: Energy modeling
  • Task 4: Energy calculation procedures
  • Task 5: Dissemination of findings

Non-energy benefits

  • Improved occupant comfort
  • Noise reduction
  • Utility bill savings
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions