Owning a home with high ceilings is a dream of many people. There is no doubt that high ceilings are striking and can greatly contribute to the beauty and aesthetic appeal of a home. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to having high ceilings as they can make it more difficult to keep your home sufficiently cooled or heated. They will also contribute to greater heating and cooling costs. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at the ways that high ceilings can impact your home’s air conditioning and heating systems.
How Ceiling Height Impacts Heating Efficiency
While high ceilings have an effect on your air conditioning, the impact they have is much greater on your heating system. Although Kaufman has fairly mild winters, there are still plenty of times throughout the winter when you’ll need to rely on your heating system to keep your home warm.
High ceilings make it more difficult to keep your home warm, which means your furnace will need to run for longer periods and more frequently. The fact that heat rises means that the hot air coming out of your vents furnace will always settle at the ceiling no matter what height it is.
This typically isn’t that big of an issue in homes that have standard 8- or 9-foot ceilings. With standard-height ceilings, the volume of hot air is enough that it extends down from the ceiling lower into the room. This means that your thermostat will quickly register the temperature and shut the heating system off.
However, if your home has high ceilings, all of that hot air will get trapped further up. This means that your heating system will need to run for much longer to produce a sufficient volume of hot air to warm the entire room. This means that your energy bills will be higher and your heating system will experience greater strain and increased wear and tear. Over time, this problem can also shorten the lifespan of your furnace and blower fan.
The Effect of High Ceilings on Your AC System
The impact of high ceilings on your air conditioning system is much less than it is on your heating since the cold air will settle down towards the ground instead. However, high ceilings will still lead to an increase in your energy costs. This is due to the simple fact that high ceilings increase the total volume of air that needs to be cooled, which means your AC unit will need to be larger.
On the other hand, this factor is slightly offset by the fact that any heat in your home will stay further up and thus be less noticeable and have less of an impact on your thermostat reading. This can actually help by reducing how often your AC system has to run. Nonetheless, the fact that you will need a larger unit due to the increased air volume still means you will pay more in cooling costs than you would if your home had standard-height ceilings.
The Role Ceiling Height Plays in the Size of HVAC Equipment
If your home has high ceilings, both your furnace and your air conditioner will need to be larger to account for the increased air volume. When determining what size of HVAC equipment is needed to effectively heat or cool a home, the most important factor is the size of the building. Other factors like the number of occupants, climate zone, level of insulation and the size and location of your windows also play a role in sizing HVAC equipment, but the home’s total size is still the biggest factor.
Kaufman and the surrounding areas are in Climate Zone 2, and this is important in determining how many BTUs of heating or cooling are needed per square foot. In this zone, it is recommended that your heating system produces at least 35 BTUs per square foot. Due to the high heat and humidity, your AC unit should produce a minimum of 45 to 50 BTUs per square foot.
Let’s say you have a 2,000-square-foot home. Based on these numbers, you would need at least a 70,000-BTU furnace while your AC unit would need to be at least 90,000 to 100,000 BTU. However, these calculations are based on the assumption that the home has standard 8-foot ceilings.
For homes with high ceilings, it is typically necessary to calculate how many BTUs are needed based on the building’s cubic footage instead of square footage. There probably won’t be that big of a difference in size between a home with 8-foot and 10-foot ceilings. However, if you have vaulted ceilings in some or all rooms, this will make a major difference. In this case, your AC may need to be one or two tons larger than if you have standard ceilings. Your furnace will also need to produce more BTUs to overcome the increased air volume.
This means that you will need to pay more when it comes time to replace your furnace or air conditioner. You will also have higher energy bills since the larger unit will obviously use more power.
Overcoming the Impact of High Ceilings
If your home has high ceilings, there are a few options that can help to overcome their impact and reduce your heating and cooling costs. Using ceiling fans in any room with high ceilings is an easy and effective way to reduce the strain on your HVAC system.
During the summer, you can set your fans to spin counterclockwise which will create a breeze that helps you to feel cooler. This also means that you can raise the temperature of your thermostat without impacting your comfort.
Ceiling fans are even more useful during the winter. By setting the fan to reverse, you can force all of the hot air down into the room. This will help to raise the temperature more quickly and thus reduce how long your heating system needs to run.
Another option is to install additional supply vents up near your high ceilings. Supply vents are usually installed in the floor or near the bottom of the wall. Adding a second set of vents near the ceiling enables you to better control the airflow and direct it to where it is needed. During the winter, you can keep the upper vents closed so that the heat is pumped into the lower part of the room. In the summer, you can do the opposite and leave the upper vents open and the lower vents closed. This will help to better circulate the cooled air throughout the room and increase the effectiveness of your AC.
If you only have high ceilings in a few rooms, another option is to install a zone-control system. This type of system breaks up your ductwork into smaller sections or zones. Each zone has its own thermostat and temperature controls, which means you can independently control one zone without impacting the others. This can help by letting you direct more of the hot or cold air to where it is needed.
At Accurate Home Services, we have been helping residents of Kaufman ensure their home comfort needs are fully met since 1992. If you need a new furnace, AC or other HVAC unit, our technicians will ensure that it is the right size to work efficiently and effectively no matter what height your ceilings are. We can also keep your HVAC system properly maintained so that it continues to provide peak performance. If you have any questions about your HVAC system or need any heating or cooling service, give us a call today.