What Are the Best Thermostat Settings for a Two-Story House?

A thermostat is in charge of monitoring your average home temperature and giving prompts to the HVAC system on which actions to take. 

However, every instruction the thermostat gives is dependent on the setting you input.

These settings are quite different depending on the type of house or space. For instance, larger spaces might require different settings from smaller spaces. Also, a two-story house will have different settings from a single-story one.

Now, let’s assume that you want to set a thermostat for your two-story house. What are the best settings to input? 

Well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the ideal thermostat setting for a two-story house is 72° on the first floor and 75° on the second. It is known as the “temperature cascade,” ensuring that your home is as comfortable as you like it.

But, this is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Several factors come into play as follows:

Factors Affecting the Best Thermostat Settings for a Two-Story House

Determining the  best thermostat settings for a two-story house can be daunting. That’s because there are several things you should factor in, such as:

  • Does each level of the house have a separate thermostat?
  • At each heating or ventilation outlet, do you have an individual thermostat?
  • Where do your occupants spend their time during the day?
  • What is each person’s preference?

All these issues should be considered before settling for a thermostat setting in your house. And balancing all of them can, sometimes, be a big challenge.

Also, there are even bigger factors that determine the best thermostat settings for a two-story building. These can be categorized into the following:

1. Physics: Air Circulation Dynamic

Generally, as a rule of thumb, hot air rises while cold air falls. As such, when you have a two-story building, this is something you’ll have to contend with and find a way to manage it.

This means that when you heat the ground floor, this warm air will rise and replace the cold air on the first floor. Consequently, the colder air will fall from upstairs to replace the rising warm air from downstairs.

With this effect, it means that air is always in circulation, and keeping constant temperatures on either floor might be challenging. The only way to regulate this is to have well-insulated doors, windows, walls, and ceilings between your house’s different levels or floors.

With proper insulation, extreme changes in the outside temperatures (winter and summer) will have less or no effect on your indoor temperatures. This way, controlling the temperatures will be easy.

2. Reasons for the Thermostat Settings: Objectives

The readings on your thermostat primarily depend on your goal or what you wish to achieve. For instance;

  • Are you looking for a warmer, neutral, or cooler space than outdoors? Each of these three scenarios will demand different actions or approaches.
  • Also, are you planning to regulate the entire house’s temperatures or just where the occupants are?

These two objectives will have a major influence on the setting you input on your home thermostat. So, before you take any action, consider what you want to achieve.

3. Zoning

A two-story building is generally bigger than a single-storied one and definitely has different levels. As such, cooling or heating the entire house from a single source or at once can become an uphill task.

In this case, zoning comes into play. This involves dividing your house into several heating and cooling zones to make the process easier. For instance, you can make the first floor the first zone and the upper floor the second zone.

This way, you don’t have to fight the natural circulation of air. The ground floor will have its thermostat and the first floor another one. Consequently, you can heat or cool one zone without affecting or being affected by the other zone.  

How to Set Upstairs and Downstairs Thermostats Like a Pro

Generally, even with zoning and insulation, you need to determine the correct thermostat settings for a two-story house. You don’t expect the two thermostats to have the same readings. And different seasons call for different settings.

Here are the solutions for different scenarios:

During winter or colder seasons, set the thermostat on your upper floor one to two degrees lower than the lower floor. This way, the system will heat your lower floor a bit more than the upper one. And this should apply even when your house has more than two floors.

So, every time you go to a higher floor, the thermostat settings ought to be lower than the previous floor by one or two degrees.

During summer or warmer seasons, the opposite will apply. The lower floors will be one or two degrees lower than the upper ones. This way, the higher floor thermostat is set at a degree or two higher.  

Usually, the major determinant of the temperatures you set will be your personal preference. However, according to research, most people will set their temperatures based on two ranges.

For instance, during winter, most homeowners will have their thermostat settings between 65 °F and 75 °F when warming the house. On the other hand, the best thermostat settings for a two-story house in summer will range between 72 °F and 77 °F.

Ideal Thermostat Settings for a Two-Story House

 Some of the recommended thermostat settings during the hot months include;

  • The best temperature when at home: 76° is an ideal thermostat setting for relaxing in your house during summer. It may sound too hot if you are used to having lower temperatures than this in your house, but you can always adjust based on your family’s needs.
  • The best temperature when you are not at home: 80° is the recommended thermostat setting when you are away. Raising your AC by 5° will save you 5-10% of your energy use for the hours you will be away.
  •  The best temperature when sleeping; according to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 °F to 67 °F is the best sleeping temperature range. If that is too much, use a ceiling fan at night. The most recommendable type of thermostat for all this is the programmable one. Go for the one with a Wi-Fi version to enable you to control it remotely.

When installing the thermostat, ensure that it is done by an HVAC professional. This will help avoid any mistakes that a DIY project might present.

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