Balancing Hot & Cold Air: Making your home comfortable

You finally found a temperature that keeps you comfortable…until you walk downstairs.  The wall of cold air hits you instantaneously and you want to go back up to put on a coat, just to venture into your own basement.

You are snuggled warmly in your bedroom watching TV and you here the doorbell.  Grumbling, you get up, put on socks, slippers, and a jacket to make the trek across your vaulted-ceiling living room to answer the door.  Even with the extra layers, you still feel the temperature change.

This has happened to so many of us, but what’s going on?  Many people blame their heating or cooling unit for being dysfunctional when the problem could actually be a little closer to home.

  1. Check your air supply registers:  Sometimes it’s the case that the air registers in the wrong-temperature rooms are closed.  These look like vents with a lever that opens or closes the register.  If an air register is closed, that prevents the heat (or air conditioning) from entering the room, and thus the room isn’t affected much by the changes you make to your thermostat.
  2. Check your air return registers:  These look like air supply registers except they are larger and don’t have a lever.  They need to be cleared of any clutter, furniture, or drapery in order to function properly.  You can even vacuum your air return registers on a regular basis because this prevents dust build-up.
  3. Duct-work:  Sometimes the ducts in your home get leaky or bent, causing a low air flow between certain rooms of your house.  The best way to see if this is the issue is to call Brackett Heating, Air & Plumbing today and have a trained technician take a look. Vectren offers a $400 rebate to seal leaky duct-work. Give us a call for more details.
  4. Structure of the room:  It’s harder for your system to circulate air through large rooms, especially ones with tall ceilings.  If these rooms are colder in the winter and warmer in the summer, it’s not because your system isn’t working, it’s because the unit needs a little help.  The best way to help this problem is to invest in a ceiling fan.  A ceiling fan helps circulate both heat and air conditioning, and when you install one, you’ll see your savings start piling up.  According to the Department of Energy, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your air conditioner’s thermostat by 4°F without changing your comfort level.  Rooms with East or West facing windows tend to not retain warm or cool air very well.  This is because glass has a terrible heat capacity, meaning it lets heat in and out easily.  Although frustrating, you can use this to your advantage.  Allow your blinds or curtains to be open in the winter all day, converting the natural sunlight into heat for the room.  As soon as the sun sets, close the blinds to retain that heat through the night.  This works in reverse for the summer months.  Make sure to keep the shades drawn in the summer so the sun doesn’t conflict with your air conditioner.
  5. Zoned systems:  This is another way to control airflow and balance the temperature of your house.  It consists of multiple thermostats in different “zones” of your house and dampers in the duct-work   For instance, if your basement is 10°F colder than your main level, you can add another thermostat that just controls the lower level and set it to a higher temperature.  This eliminates cold or hot spots in your house, allowing you to be more comfortable in any room.  You can also use a zoning system to save you energy and money.  This allows you to set different temperatures for different rooms, meaning that you can lower your system output for areas of the house you don’t use very often!

Contact a Brackett Heating, Air & Plumbing specialist if you have any questions!