Best location for thermostat in a two-story house

A one-story house tends to be quite easy to maintain consistent heating and cooling as there is nowhere for the heat/cold to disappear to upstairs. In a one-story house, you’ll typically place the thermostat somewhere in the center of the house on an inner wall.

In a two-story house, this becomes even more difficult as heat rises so your upstairs will typically be much warmer than the downstairs. If you place it upstairs, the downstairs will be much colder than the rest of the home. Below we will go through the different factors for a two-story home and how you can place and program your thermostat for the most efficient results.

Factors That Can Affect Your Thermostat

Programmable ThermostatThe way your thermostat works is it takes the temperature of the exact surrounding area. This means you should try to find a location in which it doesn’t experience drastic temperature changes.

  • Sunlight: It’s suggested that you try to avoid any areas that have direct sunlight or rooms which have a large number of windows that get sunlight all day. Placing your thermostat on a wall with direct sunlight will mean your thermostat will think your home is much hotter than it actually is. This means in winter it will not heat your home and in summer, it will over-cool your home. This is present in both one-story and two-story homes and will cause your energy bills to increase drastically.
  • Kitchens: While we do spend much of our time in the kitchen cooking, eating, and enjoying family time, it’s a very poor location for a thermostat as kitchens often have higher temperatures than the rest of your home. Due to the number of appliances, people, and oven/stoves, your kitchen will often be much hotter and thus cause your thermostat to kick in while the rest of your home’s temperature will be much lower.
  • Air Drafts: Also, it’s best not to place the thermostat next to an air vent that will blow nearby the thermostat and also confuse it into thinking the area is a different temperature. If the cold air starts to hit it, your thermostat will turn off right away and while the room may not be cool yet, the thermostat may think it is due to this placement. The same works with the heating during the winter months. This will cause your whole home to be poorly heated or cooled.
  • Doors and Windows: It’s important to not place your thermostat in areas where there is an excessive amount of airflow. This includes areas next to doorways, especially those leading to the outside. Outside doors will cause high amount so airflow to blow in which will often kick in your thermostat to think that your home is hotter or colder than it actually is. That sudden gust of different temperature will cause your thermostat to constantly be tricked into starting up, even though your home does not need it to. This constant on and off action will reduce the lifetime of your heating and cooling system. Windows also have a similar effect in that they leak outside temperature inside. Having the thermostat right next to a window will cause your thermostat to read those temperatures from outside instead of the actual inside temperature.

Ideal Thermostat Placement For 2-Story Homes

digital thermostat at houseThe overall best placement of a thermostat should be on an interior wall (one that is not touching the outside wall of your home. As well as an interior wall it should also be one that doesn’t hit any of the above factors including direct sunlight, air vents, outside doorways, not in the kitchen, away from windows, and not in a hallway area.

After taking into consideration most of those factors, it can often seem like there is no good place to put the thermostat but don’t get let down as those are just guidelines to follow.

In a 2-story home, the best setup would be to have two different thermostats for upstairs and downstairs that heat and cool each separately. The downstairs thermostat will always be set lower than the upstairs thermostat as the upstairs will always be warmer. In the winter, a suggested guideline would be to set the downstairs at 68 degrees and the upstairs to 72 degrees. That way the upstairs doesn’t overheat making it the optimum comfort level.

In the case that you only have one thermostat in your home, the best location would still be downstairs in the most heavily used area (except the kitchen) which will usually be your living room. It’s also suggested to place up on the wall as conveniently as possible so you can still reach it. Having it higher up on the wall means it will take into consideration the heat rising to the upstairs a bit more.

Another suggestion for 2-story homes is to have a divider in place between the upstairs and downstairs which will ensure all of the downstairs heat doesn’t disappear upstairs. This could be in the form of a doorway leading upstairs.

Additional Tips

A few other reasons why your multi-level home may have inconsistent heat can often be because the insulation in the attic is not sufficient and has holes/cracks in it.

Modern digital programmable Thermostat

This means that when the heat rises up to the second floor it all escapes to the attic. This will cause your home to need to heat excessively and all of it is going right outside. Having your insulation checked is an easy way to ensure you’re not wasting money. 

Your windows and doors are other key areas as well. Check the doors leading to the outside and windows. This is especially key in the winter to check if there are cold drafts. If you have windows that have cold drafts in the winter and can’t afford to replace them, you can always cover them with plastic to keep the cold from coming inside.

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