There are all sorts of ways that your home can secretly suck away at your energy costs. Inefficient windows, drafts, and lack of insulation can all make it harder to maintain your preferred temperature in your living space. One thing we hear people asking about on a regular basis is high ceilings. Does having a high ceiling in your home automatically mean that your energy spending will increase?
The unsatisfying answer is: It depends. There is certainly a possibility that a high or cathedral ceiling in your home means increased energy costs. But this doesn’t have to be the case in every scenario – there are a lot of variables that can affect whether this design feature will end up costing you more money over the long run.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues related to high ceilings that could end up increasing those bills.
More Space = More Work for Your HVAC System
It’s just a fact – if your home has more square footage to cool or heat, it will work harder to complete the job. Many of us forget that all that extra space created by higher ceilings adds to the workload of your HVAC system. So, if you move into a home that has stunning cathedral ceilings from one that had lower ceilings, then yes…you can expect to experience an increase in your energy bills.
One of the ways you can minimize the cost of running your HVAC system in a high-ceiling environment is to ensure that you have the right sized system to do the job. A system that is too small or large will struggle to maintain a constant temperature. If you are building a new home with high ceilings, make sure you have a trusted HVAC company involved in planning and installing your new system. They can provide information on the correct size and duct layout for your new home.
Type and Number of Windows
If you have beautiful high ceilings accented with a lot of windows, this can increase the chances of higher energy bills. Windows, while beautiful, tend to be points of energy loss for homes. They can have drafts, allowing for cold air to escape in summer or invade your home in the winter, causing your HVAC system to work harder to maintain your preferred temperature.
There is also the issue of sunlight streaming into your space, creating a warmer environment. Depending on which direction the windows are facing, this could be a big problem, leaving your room hotter than you would enjoy! South-facing windows get the most sun, but depending on the time of year, east and west facing windows can also be sources of direct sunlight.
One way to approach this issue is to install energy-efficient windows. They can be more expensive, but they will be worth every penny in a large room where a lot of windows could cause heating and cooling issues. Energy-efficient windows can prevent the buildup of heat due to the direct light pouring through the glass, while also lessening the chance of drafts.
Another option for making existing windows more energy efficient is selecting window treatments that reduce the amount of light in your home during peak hours. Sometimes finding solutions for a large window can be a little more difficult, but a window treatment specialist should be able to offer suggestions on products and styles that are likely to work best for your home.
One of the reasons it is so important to have an HVAC specialist involved in new construction is that they can plan a system which will work with your home design. Unfortunately, some situations arise in homes with high ceilings that can reduce energy efficiency based on the design and installation of the duct system.
Consider this – we all know that warm air rises and cold air sinks. So, what happens in winter if you have ducts high on a wall in a room with a cathedral ceiling? You end up with a cozy ceiling but a cold living space! But where is your thermostat usually located? That’s right – ground level. This is a recipe for a system that is continuously running and not creating a comfortable environment.
Ducts should be lower to the ground in rooms with high ceilings. There is no reason to spend energy climate controlling spaces that people can’t reach without a ladder.
Regardless of your duct placement, a ceiling fan in a room with high ceilings can help to distribute climate-controlled air more efficiently. Instead of allowing warm air to gather near the top of the ceiling in winter, a fan will help to pull it down to ground level, helping to keep your family warm. In summer, switching the direction of the fan will help to distribute cold air more efficiently through your space.
Have a large room that just won’t stay the right temperature? We can help! Give us a call at (205) 871–8111 to schedule an appointment.