To understand the effect of closing and opening interior doors on overall HVAC energy efficiency, one must first understand how the entire heating, cooling and ventilation process works.
Although it may seem logical that closing the door of a room would increase energy efficiency, since cooled air won’t dissipate to other areas of a home that need not be cooled, this is not the case in centralized HVAC systems. HVAC systems rely on air movement to keep the temperature and humidity within a certain area at levels that are comfortable for those inside.
In cooling systems, warm air inside your home is cooled in the units and the moisture content is reduced in order to lower humidity. The heat from this air, as well as excess moisture, is forced outside while the cooled air is blown inside to circulate the area. As air flows within an area, warm air is constantly cooled and its moisture gets reduced, while cool air is continuously blown inward.
In a building with numerous points of interior separation, impediments like closed doors can stop the continuous flow of air. This builds up pressure in certain areas and forces cooled air to escape outside through nooks and crannies, thereby inducing the cooling and ventilation system to exert more energy just to maintain the area’s temperature.
As air escapes from confined quarters, following the laws of pressure, air must also be drawn in. All this air does not come from your HVAC system. Some come from spaces found in windows. Others come from chimneys and outside vents. This unfiltered air brings with it spores, dust and moisture that can cause numerous complications.
We all know that doors can’t stay open all the time. A great alternative would be to install ventilation panels between rooms that would reduce the amount of air being blocked by a closed door. Also, raising the door a few centimeters can allow air to pass underneath and reduce the pressure buildup in a room. But perhaps the best way to avoid any complications that can come from closing off interior areas in a building cooled by a centralized HVAC system is proper prior planning and correct setup.
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