A home with vaulted or cathedral ceilings draws the eye upward and lets you show off beautiful craftsmanship and features like exposed beams, skylights, and chandeliers. But did you know that these high ceilings could affect your HVAC system and energy bills? Read on to learn more about the relationship between ceiling height and HVAC — and what you should do about it.
High Ceilings = More Space
Higher ceilings increase the space to be heated or cooled by your HVAC system. Therefore, if you move from a home with low ceilings to one with cathedral ceilings, you can expect your system’s workload to increase. As a result, you’ll end up with higher energy bills.
The good news is that you can do several things to compensate for the elevated ceilings, one of them being installing a right-sized HVAC system. Have a contractor size the system adequately, taking square footage, ceiling height, and other factors into consideration.
High ceilings can also reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency due to ductwork design. Remember: Hot air rises. That implies that most of your home’s heat will drift to the ceiling in the winter. In the summer, the air conditioner will have to labor to cool the extra room.
Rather than giving up your high-level ceiling, you can work with a professional to incorporate a low- and high-return air register into the room. In the summer, you can shut down the lower return with dampers or magnetic covers and allow the high return to remove heat from the ceiling. This facilitates better cool-air buildup. In the winter, you’ll need to do the opposite.
Ceiling fans help distribute heated or cooled air more efficiently in rooms with high ceilings. In the winter, run the fan blades clockwise to remove heat from the ceiling and push it downward. Reverse the fan’s rotation in the summer to stir up a breeze that makes you feel cooler.