What is zone heating and is it worth it? This is a gamechanger

In most houses, the main heat source is usually a central heating system. That system is essentially a network of pipes that carries heat from a boiler in the basement, attic or garage to heat-generating appliances in the upper levels of the house.

In some parts of a building, though, a different approach is necessary. In those zones, the temperatures have to be different, so a separate heating system is needed. It is possible that the people that live in this area have other needs. Another possibility is that it is an area that is less used.


With a central system, it is possible to close the heater or turn it down. This is not very precise though. This is why some people have “zone heating”. Another thermostat can control these heaters to get a more precise temperature.

This makes it easier to control the temperature and you don’t have to deal with adjusting individual radiators all the time.

Benefits of Zone Heating

It is more expensive to install zone heating as multiple water circuits (or air ducts) have to be installed to heat the home. This also can take up more space in a home.

Zone heating has multiple advantages though that can make it worth it.

  • Cost savings – With an efficient system, there will be no need to spend extra on heating. This is because the heated air will stay in the building and rooms will not be opened and closed frequently.
  • Comfort – Comfort is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a heating system. Zone heating allows you to pick a more precise temperature.
  • Reduced maintenance – With a traditional furnace, the heater has to be cleaned more often as it has to work harder.

Zone heating can make a big difference for the inhabitants as it makes it easier to manage the heat in each room. With digital thermostats, it is even possible to change everything from your phone.

Floor heating is becoming more popular and heating zones can also be implemented in these systems. People are switching to heat pumps and heating zones can also be used with this. Depending on the type of heat pump, there might be more work to get it going. Especially in bigger homes, it can require heat pumps in multiple locations. This can make it quite expensive to install. 

How Zone Heating Works: how to shut it off and zone not working

Zone heating systems use advanced thermostats. This is a device that is attached to the wall. You can use this to control the zones in your house. Turning off a zone is generally done by selecting it on this system.

If a zone isn’t working, the thermostat should also give an indication of what is going on. You can also check your heater to make sure that it doesn’t give an error. Sometimes you have to turn a zone off and back on again to restart it. You should also check the batteries of your thermostat.

If these things don’t work, you might have to reach out to a plumber to see what is going on.

Some systems also have a smartphone app to make it easy to control every zone.

Another water circuit or air vents are added. This allows the water or air in these circuits to have different temperatures. You will need to install two heaters or get a heater that is able to deal with this. Newer heaters use advanced software to manage these circuits. It can lead to periods where you might have to wait longer for a room to get hot as it is still working on the other system but this shouldn’t take too long. 

The first step in installing a zone heating system is deciding where to place the heating source.  Once there is a clear plan, the pipes or vents can be installed. A plumber can then connect them to the thermostats and the heater. If you do this in an existing home, it is possible that walls or floors have to be broken open if you want to hide the pipes. 

It is easier to install this in a new home. Zone heating is harder to do for heaters that use water than hot air. 

Zone heating is mainly used in bigger homes that house people with different needs. An example is a family that has a separate area for one of the kids. This allows the parents to have a different rhythm than the kids.

For example, the kids might want to stay up late at night and need heating while the parents are already in bed at this point and don’t need it anymore. To save on energy, one system is turned down whereas the other one is turned up. With a traditional system, the water or air has to pass through multiple parts of the home, reducing the efficiency. 

We also have to take the water pressure into account. You might have to install a pump if the heater is far away from the boiler. Another solution is to have the boilers in different locations. This takes up more space though as you need to reserve two areas for this. Plumbers have to calculate the size of the pipes and the distances that the water or air can be transported. Planning this can require quite a lot of work. Once a system has been installed, it is hard to update it. Therefore it is important that the plumber has a good plan before they start working on the project. 

It is possible that you need to add a special valve to the radiator for it to work. A plumber has to check this as each system has its own requirements. 


A zone heating system heats only the areas that require it. It does not heat the rest of the house. This can increase comfort and make it cheaper to heat the home. It is a lot of work to do this in an existing house though as you might have to break walls or floors open.

If you don’t need to heat the rest of your house, then a zone-based system is a good investment because you are only heating the required areas. It is often used in larger homes to accommodate different needs. Most homes don’t need this as one thermostat and heating circuit is enough. 

Zone heating can greatly increase the comfort of a house. It is quite complex to use this though and you will need a great thermostat to get the most out of it.

A plumber will have to make a great plan when they install this system. This makes sure that you use heat in the most efficient way possible.

Honeywell Home Y87RF Single Zone Thermostat User Guide