For years, ZoneFirst President Dick Foster has used the light-switches-in-the-home comparison while promoting the benefits of HVAC zoning.

The comparison connected zoning to how homeowners are used to having a light switch in every room of their house to save energy. That same homeowner would never dream of having one light switch in the family room that would control the entire house. Could you imagine the electric bill? Yet they do that for their heating and cooling.

At their AHR Expo booth, ZoneFirst introduced a product that brought new meaning to that comparison. The company exhibited the Bliss, model LST. According to Foster, it is the first and only combination light switch and thermostat.

“Thermostats are big, bulky, and don’t look good on the wall,” Foster said. “We always pitch that zoning is like having a light switch in every room of your house. It costs more to turn on your heating and air conditioning than your lights. Lights can be about 15% of your energy bill, while in the summer your air conditioner might be 75%. So why are we heating rooms that are not occupied?”

Traditionally, HVAC systems have been controlled by a separately wired thermostat. The Bliss combines the function of a thermostat and light switch into a flush mounted touchscreen at the normal light switch location and remotely via any smart device through the Bliss app. This allows the thermostat to get out of the hallway and be put in a specific room without running wires.

Foster said homeowners can contractors can combine the Bliss LST with ZoneFirst’s automatic dampers and sensors to achieve energy savings and better comfort throughout the home. The automatic dampers open and close to direct conditioned air only to the zones calling, and shut off the unoccupied zones. This can save homeowners as much as 30% on their energy bill.

Duct sensors at each zone’s damper monitor duct temperature, humidity, and air pressure. This product also provides real-time feedback of system operation, via the app, and can provide alerts when the HVAC is not operating properly.

Foster is hoping this latest product improves the market share of zoning, which most recently sat at 4%.

“I have had this idea for a few years but I needed the people and the engineering to do it. The technology had to catch up with the idea,” Foster said. “This should make selling zoning easier for the contractor. It is much easier for the homeowner to understand the technology now.”