What’s the best way to Heat and Cool Your Multi-Story Home? Cary HVAC

A common problem for many of our Cary HVAC customers is adjusting the temperature in their multi-story home such that both the upstairs and downstairs are comfortable. Typically upper stories are almost always warmer than lower ones, which isn't a problem during the winter, but can be quite unpleasant during the hot, humid, summer months. With that in mind, today we'll discuss the best way to heat and cool your multi-story home.

Heat Rises!

Before we get into how you can best heat and cool your multi-story home, we offer a brief science lesson.

Hot air rises to the top (or upper stories) because it is less dense than the surrounding air. It also pushes out on the air around it, which causes hot air to become less dense. Less dense air will also rise as cooler air sinks because it is heavier. Gravity will pull the heavier air to the bottom (or lower levels of your home).

This process works to our advantage during colder months when we prefer a warmer home. However, you may notice a big discrepancy in temperature between the floors of your home when you run the air conditioner during the summer. Most often, our customers notice that while it feels cool and comfortable downstairs (even to the point of needing a light jacket when inside), it is quite hot on the upper floors.

How should you adjust your thermostat?

Most multi-story homes have a multi-zone air conditioning system. As such, you can control each floor of your home independent of the other floors. This not only allows you to better regulate the temperature throughout your home but can help you save money on your energy bill.

How does this work?

A common mistake is setting your thermostats to the same temperature settings at the same time. While you might think "oh, I want my house to be set for 72 degrees so I'll just set the entire house to 72 degrees," the reality is that the upstairs will almost always be warmer. Rather, consider the science of heat rising.

During warmer months (especially the summer), set your upstairs thermostat at a slightly (-2 degrees) lower temperature than your downstairs thermostat. For example, you might set the upstairs thermostat to 71 degrees and your downstairs thermostat to 73 degrees. The cool air from upstairs will fall, keeping your downstairs cool as well.

This should encourage a balanced temperature across your home that will be comfortable for your family. Additionally, it should shorten the amount of time it takes to adjust to one temperature or another, which should lessen the amount of running time on your Cary HVAC system, which will result in a reduced energy bill.

During the winter, reverse the process. Your downstairs thermostat should be set to the desired temperature and your upstairs unit will be set two degrees lower. Using this approach, your downstairs will get a little bit of an extra boost to keep it warm, while the rising air will continue to provide warmth to the upstairs without running the heat as often.

Other Ways to Cool Your Multi-Story Home

If you've adjusted your thermostat according to the settings we recommend above, and you're still having difficulty achieving a comfortable temperature in your home, you may have another issue.

Be sure to check your windows and doors for air leaks, especially at the start of a new season, and replace any rubber or silicone seals that have cracked or worn with age. Air leaks and cracks are huge sources of unwanted hot or cold air loss. Also make sure that the insulation between your attic and the level below is properly installed, sufficient, and free of leaks.  Finally, double-check that all vents are in the open position and that your Cary HVAC system is running at its fullest capacity. Any obstructions will cause a delay in getting hot or cool air where it needs to go, and for your system to work harder than it should.

Call Choice HVAC in Cary today to request more information or to determine a better way to get a consistent temperature in your multi-story home.


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