Dear Angie: I recently purchased my first two-story home. I love it, except now it’s cold outside and I’m having a heating issue. When the furnace is on, the upstairs gets very warm, while the first floor and basement remain somewhat chilly. I know heat rises, so this might be a dumb question, but what can I do to help even out the heat in the house? If I close some of the vents upstairs would that redirect some of that heat downstairs? Could it be an insulation issue? The house seems well-insulated in the attic and there don’t seem to be any drafts around windows and doors? – Joe P., Plainfield, Indiana
Dear Joe: Unfortunately, for many owners of two-story homes, varying heat loss — or heat gain — is a common problem.
Two-story homes often require more cool airflow to the second floor during the summertime and more warm airflow on the first floor in the wintertime. The goal, obviously, is to create air balance throughout the home year-round, so it is heated — and cooled — more evenly.
As you suggested, closing off the registers on the second floor during the winter, and ensuring they’re open on the lower levels, will force more of the heated air to the first floor and basement, and reduce the amount of heat the upper level receives. Flipping this process during the summer will have the opposite effect. But closing air vents interferes with energy efficiency, and often has the opposite effect, because your system is trying to balance out your entire home and you're upsetting the pressure levels and balance the system is designed to achieve. A zoned HVAC system would solve this problem and save energy in the process, but installing a new system could be costly.
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