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Improve Your HVAC Efficiency With Multiple Thermostats in a Multi-Story Home

Establishing a comfortable heating or cooling setting for a single-story house is relatively easy, and you don’t really think about the HVAC system in this case. However, it’s not like once you set the temperature gauge it will be the same, selected temperature throughout the house. What’s more, this is especially true when there are multiple floors. Sometimes, there are multiple thermostats in the home. Evenly heating a three-story home is a lot harder than a one-story abode. This is especially true if you’ve just moved into a new house and are unfamiliar with the thermostats at the property. There is a way to improve your HVAC knowledge and, by extension, the efficiency with multiple thermostats in the home.

Remember That Heat Rises

Woman coming down stairs and talking to boy in family room.

First, it’s important to remember the number one rule of thermodynamics: heat rises. You don’t need to have taken a science class recently to recall this fact. It always rises. Heat expands and moves so that air molecules push their way through any cold molecules and rise upward, ultimately heating the highest point in your home. The molecules of heat are less dense than the cold ones. So heat rises and cold air sinks. For this reason, it’s vital to keep this in mind for any of the zone thermostat adjustments that you will be making.

It may seem impossible to keep the second or third stories of your house cool in the summer and, on the other hand, virtually impossible to keep the ground floor or basement level warm enough to meet everyone’s desired comfort levels in the winter. The best way to remedy this discrepancy is to review the logistics of HVAC zoning. That is, having multiple thermostats for the different stories of the home.

It makes sense in several ways. If you have different thermostats to control each respective floor of your property, you’re going to be much more capable of controlling the climate of each floor. Plus, you won’t have to rely on a thermostat on a different story. If your multi-story house doesn’t have multiple thermostats, it’s something to take into consideration. It could mean a much more comfortable living space. When you upgrade to a zoned HVAC system, the new installation will allow you to precisely control the temperature for an individual floor.

If you already have multiple thermostats installed, here are a few tips on how to make things as efficient as possible in all seasons.

For the Summer

Set the thermostat on the uppermost floor to the desired temperature. The floor below the uppermost floor should be around two degrees colder. Each subsequent floor should follow the pattern and be about two degrees cooler. What this setup is doing is preparing for a temperature cascade. Cold air sinks, so the cold air that is circulating on the top floor will start to cascade down to the lower floors and ultimately to the bottom floor. With this sort of setup, you will have accomplished an efficient and comfortable climate cascade where the temperature is relatively equal throughout the various floors of the home.

For the Winter

The process for creating a comfortable warmth for all the inhabitants of the homes across all floors will look something like the inverse of the temperature cascade detailed above. Select the ideal temperature for the ground floor and the second floor should be about two degrees cooler than that of the ground floor. If you have three or more stories, each additional floor should be set two degrees cooler than the floor below it. This will allow the heat to rise, and over the course of a short while, the temperature throughout the home should be equalized.

Why the Different Settings?

If you’re asking why you can’t just set the desired temperature to the same setting on each floor, the answer is sort of self-explanatory. In all reality, you could absolutely set each thermostat on each floor to the same temperature, but this would mean that your HVAC will be doing nothing but running continuously to maintain this setting.

Thermodynamics is going to start to play a part in how the air is settling onto the ground floor. If, for instance, you’re trying to heat the house, then even with the same temperature on all floors, the heat will only rise, and any cool air will fall and settle on the ground floor, leaving half the house cold and uncomfortable. With all the heat rising, it’s also likely to create an environment that is too warm on the top floors.

This isn’t a very efficient way to heat or cool a multi-story house, and beyond the efficiency component, it can become incredibly costly—and very quickly so. The upper or lower floor would be essentially in a constant struggle with the elements (depending upon the season) to either heat or cool the whole house. Day in and day out, the air conditioner, heater, or combination HVAC would be pushing itself to meet the desired temperature set on the thermostat. In using the above tricks to appropriately and efficiently heat your home, you’re going to be able to live comfortably without breaking the bank to pay for it.

Ready to Upgrade?

If you’re finding that it makes sense to upgrade and install a thermostat on each floor (and it really does make sense), call Entek Heating and Cooling for an estimate. Our trained professionals will take a look at the current heating and cooling systems in your multi-story home and find out how to make them more efficient and cost-effective.

What’s more, we’re here to offer personalized service for your HVAC needs. Reach out to us today and make an appointment. Heat your home this year as efficiently and comfortably as possible.


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