Hot air rises and cool air sinks. This basic scientific principle is the basis for every romantic hot air balloon flight that has ever occurred. Other ramifications may be less favorable. This unequal distribution of heat can make it difficult to evenly heat multiple stories of a house. If you are looking for a solution to balance out the temperatures in your home, here are a few suggestions.
Stop Any Leaks
If you want to evenly heat multiple stories, first thing’s first: look for places where heat can escape. It is probably not your intention to heat or cool your yard as you pay your utility bill, and you certainly don’t want to do so unintentionally. Warm air in the winter and air conditioned air in the summer can escape through inadequate insulation, poor seals, and leaky ductwork. Check these problem spots before you take other steps to evenly heat multiple stories.
If windows are old or weren’t installed properly, they can be a source for heat to seep out of the house. The remedy for this depends on where the vulnerabilities are. If the window isn’t sealed well, caulking is an easy and waterproof way to fill any gaps between window sashes and frames. Weatherstripping is a good way to shore up mediocre insulation, and if you can’t find weatherstripping, a similar effect can be achieved with foam tape.
If you suspect heat is escaping through the glass itself, you may need to look into reglazing, but a quick and easy fix is finding better window coverage. Adding layers of blinds, curtains, drapes, and even shutters can make your windows look more striking while keeping out drafts.
Check that all of your vents are unobstructed. Blocking vents with rugs, furniture, drapes, or anything else will inhibit airflow in your home.
The ductwork in your home serves as the passageway through which all heated or air-conditioned air is circulated through your home. Old or poorly-installed ductwork can minimize your HVAC system’s efficiency and even minimize its ability to get temperature-controlled air to your second and third floors. An insufficient amount of ductwork can also make it difficult to evenly heat multiple stories. Have a professional inspect your ductwork to make sure it is optimized for your property.
If heat rises, you don’t want too much of it rising right out of your roof. Attic insulation must be installed with quality materials and care to prevent pumping utility funds into the sky. If you can see your attic’s floor joists, you don’t have enough insulation. It is also important to inspect your soffit vents to make sure they are not blocked,
Keep It Moving
Running a fan is a simple way to circulate the air in your home. Most thermostats have fans which can be switched from “auto” (which will only run when the furnace or air conditioner is running) to “on,” which will keep the air moving even without temperature control.
While a fan doesn’t change the temperature of the air, per say, running the fan homogenizes the temperature of the air inside a space. The circulation balances out the temperature of the air already in the house, even between multiple floors.
Be mindful that running the fan will raise your electric bill but not because the furnace or air conditioning is on.
Upgrade Your Furnace
The most effective way to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to install a more modern system, designed with efficiency in mind. Older furnaces do not meet modern industry standards of efficiency, and they cannot always evenly heat multiple stories. A newer model with better temperature control measures can help cut down on energy consumption.
Opt for a Zoning System
Installing a zoning system gives homeowners complete temperature control in the house by partitioning heat distribution into zones. Zoning systems utilize electronically-controlled modulating dampers inside the ductwork to direct the flow of hot or cool air in the house. Each zone has its own thermostat to control these dampers, so homeowners have complete control over how the different regions of their home are heated or cooled.
Homeowners with zoning systems can evenly heat multiple stories by establishing each floor as a new zone. It is wise to set the thermostat of each floor at least two degrees lower than the floor beneath it, since heat will rise and balance out the effect.
Evenly Heat Multiple Stories with What You Have
Even if you don’t have a professionally-installed zoning system, there are a few things you can do to simulate the same effect. You can manually redirect the air in your home to the areas that need it most by closing most (though not all) of the vents on one floor. In the summer, shut most of the vents on the first floor, forcing your air conditioning system to direct more air upstairs. When winter rolls around, do the reverse, closing upstairs events so more heated air is funneled downstairs.