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Do I Need to Adjust My Return Vents With the Seasons?

TechXpert verified by Ken Kontra

Yes, as the seasons change, you’ll want to adjust the return vents to help your HVAC system heat and cool your home more effectively. Because hot air rises and cold air falls, you need to adjust your return vents with the seasons. In the summer, your lower vents should be closed and your upper vents should be open. In the winter, your upper vents should be closed and your lower vents should be open.

Seasonal Switches

As the temperature changes, so should the orientation of your return vents. Hot air rises and cold air falls, so as temperatures outside get warmer or cooler, the air collecting in your home will follow suit.

For example, If you’re looking to keep your home warm in the winter, you’ll want your lower return vents to be open — this will help draw the cold air from the room.

Opening and closing return vents as the season’s change will allow air to be drawn out through your return registers more easily, and helps your return registers work more efficiently. Whether you change your return vent for cooling in the summer or heating in the winter, making this simple switch will help you save energy and money on your electric bill!

When to Switch Your Vents

Your return registers will only need to be switched twice a year (once before the weather gets frosty and again when the weather starts to warm).

Identifying a Return Vent

Not sure which vents in your home are return vents? Here’s how to figure it out.

Return Vents vs. Supply Vents

There are two main types of vents in your home, return vents and supply vents. Return vents are responsible for pulling air out of your indoor spaces to help control temperature, while supply vents are responsible for blowing hot or cold air back inside your home. To check if a vent is a supply or return vent, simply:

  1. Grab a piece of paper.

  2. Hold the sheet of paper in front of your vent.

If the sheet is pulled towards the vent, the vent is a return vent. If the sheet of paper is blown away, the vent is a supply vent. You’ve solved it!

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