A glance at real estate listings shows that high ceilings are an asset that add resale value to a home. They also enhance aesthetics, opening up the indoor environment and creating the effect of spaciousness. However, what effect does a ceiling above the standard 8-foot height have on HVAC performance and efficiency?

The higher the ceiling, the greater the amount of air volume contained in a room. Air volume directly affects heating and cooling dynamics inside the room and influences temperature control. This, in turn, influences how your furnace or air conditioner operates, including system efficiency and monthly costs. Here’s how vaulted ceilings affect these factors in winter and summer:

  • In a room with higher ceilings, rising heat produced by the furnace tends to accumulate high overhead. Occupants down near floor level are therefore more likely to feel chilly during winter. Bumping up the thermostat setting helps, but it also increases heating costs as the furnace works harder.
  • In summer, the increased air volume contained within a room with a high ceiling requires your air conditioner to run longer cycles to keep all that air cool. This means increased A/C electrical consumption and wear and tear.

To compensate for the effects of vaulted ceilings and support optimum HVAC efficiency and performance, here are two suggestions:

  • Install a ceiling fan. Mounted on the ceiling above, the direction of a ceiling fan can be set to blow downward, continuously circulating accumulating heat back down into the living spaces to keep occupants more comfortable in winter. Ceiling fans specially designed for rooms with high ceilings typically move more air volume than standard fans.
  • Make sure your air conditioner can carry the load. “Sizing” refers to matching a central A/C’s BTU capacity with the home’s cooling load. Rooms with higher ceilings contain more air volume, which increases cooling load. An inaccurate cooling-load calculation can result in installing an undersized air conditioner that that fails to provide adequate cooling and costs more to operate.

Ask the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more about keeping a house with high ceilings comfortable and efficient.