The Importance Of Supply And Return Registers

Most homeowners spend more time thinking about the performance and efficiency of their HVAC unit rather than their air supply and return systems. Honestly, who wouldn’t? But, your unit’s air supply and return actually does a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure your systems are running smoothly and efficiently, which helps save you energy and money. Here’s several things you should know about supply and return registers and the best places to put them for maximum efficiency.

So, what’s the difference between supply and return ducts and registers? Let’s start from the top. The ducts connected with your heating or cooling unit push that hot or cool air into a room- that’s the supply. However, they can’t pump forever without pressure building in the room. That’s why your home also has return registers and ducts. Your return system pulls conditioned air from the room, and draws it back into your heating/cooling unit; it can then be reheated/cooled and pumped back out into your home. This not only improves air pressure, but also helps circulate air, filter out dust and dirt particles, and help your unit work more effectively, if the registers are properly placed.

But how does a return system effect your systems efficiency? If there’s a big difference between the temperature in your home and the temperature you set your thermostat to, it’s going to take a lot of energy to stabilize that temperature. Because of this, drafts and air leaks can cause a lot of energy waste. When a return system is well placed, it pulls that already conditioned air back into the system, which then gets reconditioned and pumped back out again. When the already conditioned air gets pulled back into the system, it takes a lot less energy to cool it to the thermostat’s set temperature.

That being said, most systems work a lot more effectively when there’s a supply duct and return line in each room. But not every home was designed that way; many just have one return line in a central hallway. If that’s how your home was designed, you could have an HVAC professional extend the return line into each room, improving air flow and quality. It’s also important to note where on the wall your supply and return registers are located. Because heat rises, it’s a good idea to position return registers high on a wall; that way, when your AC is running in the summer, the registers are positioned to pull the hottest air out of the room. If your AC is not running a lot or you live in a cooler climate, return registers closer to the ground work just as effectively. Return registers and supply registers also shouldn’t be too close to one another. This gives the air more time to circulate around the room.

Now that you understand how return and supply registers function, how do you tell the difference between the two? Supply vents are usually smaller, have slats behind the vent cover running perpendicular to the fins on the grill, and have no filter. Only return vents have filters. Another easy way to tell is the “paper test.” Place a piece of paper over the vent; if it blows outward, it’s a supply vent. If it doesn’t, it’s a return register.

Now that you know everything about supply and return registers and ducts, give Climate Control Experts a call for any and all improvements you’d like to make to your system.


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