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Tips for cutting back on the AC: Unbalanced house
Old 07-24-2020, 01:49 PM
  #1

I live in a tri-level split house (Brady Bunch style: half of the house is two stories, and half is one story where you can go up OR downstairs from).

My thermostat is upstairs: in the hallway near no vent. I haven't messed with the presets for the school day since I've been back, and I noticed that while it does get up to 80 during school hours upstairs, it is staying COOL on the lowest level (I would estimate 65 degrees). It's probably 74-76 on the middle level.

I feel like the AC is working harder than it needs to during the workday (read: electric bill). I'm hot-natured, so I have enjoyed a cool office and bedroom, but it won't need to be this cool when I go back.

The thermostat is right outside a door with a ceiling fan. I don't know if it would be a benefit to leave that on?

TLDR: my thermostat is upstairs, and I'm worried that it works too hard to cool the rest of the house and making my electric bill higher.


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Old 07-24-2020, 02:06 PM
  #2

Do you have some sort of setback thermometer, so you can set the AC for higher temperatures when you're not home?

Also--pretty much any house will be warmer upstairs and cooler downstairs because heat rises. We have a split level house with the thermostat on the main level (living room, dining room, kitchen). Bedrooms and my study are upstairs with family room downstairs. There can easily be a 5+ degree difference in temperature.
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Old 07-24-2020, 02:13 PM
  #3

A thermostat should be in a hallway but not on the second floor. You should look into having it moved to the main level. Is your furnace in the attic?
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Old 07-24-2020, 02:22 PM
  #4

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue- but couldn't you just set the thermostat for a higher temp, knowing that in reality it's going to be cooler than it's set for on the other levels?

And as far as when you're gone during the work day, I turn mine up to at least 82ish when I leave. I've done some research and the idea that it costs more to get back down to the level you want when you return is a myth. I turn it up on my way out the door in the morning and then back down as soon as I walk in after getting home from work. Of course, that is if I'm ever actually leaving the house for work again...

My house is really tall and it's way hotter upstairs where the bedrooms are. I sleep with a fan directly on me. That kind of taught me that I can do that on the main level too- if I'm just sitting around watching TV or reading or something, I turn the AC up and just have a fan on me and it's very comfortable. If I get uncomfortable I just turn it down a degree or two.
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Old 07-24-2020, 02:31 PM
  #5

If you don't have a programmable thermostat, they are affordable and pretty easy to install. That way you can set temps for different times of the day. That might be a help to your bill.

Also, most electric providers will do a free/cheap energy efficiency walkthrough. They will make suggestions, and in some cases give you a rebate for doing what they suggest. I know electricians will do the same, but they have a financial interest in finding inefficiency.


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Old 07-24-2020, 03:15 PM
  #6

We have a thermostat on both levels and keep the upstairs cool enough so that the downstairs thermostat does not kick in. If the downstairs gets too hot the heat flows up so keep the downstairs two degrees lower than the upstairs. We also have heat blocking drapery panels on the east facing bedroom windows upstairs. Good luck!
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:49 PM
  #7

We have a walk out basement, a living room and bedrooms and kitchen upstairs. And the same problem. Too hot upstairs, too cold downstairs. We shut the downstairs vents and that helps with the cold, but it's still 5 degrees hotter upstairs. The living room is just right! We have a Nest thermostat, but haven't noticed much of a difference in the bill. If we set our thermostat higher when we're out the new AC never catches up to the set temp.
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Old 07-24-2020, 04:49 PM
  #8

We were told to turn the thermostat’s fan setting to “on” when running the AC. That way the air circulates better.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:07 PM
  #9

Most houses have two thermostats and and 2 HVACs for this reason, at least in my city. I have a pretty small house (1600sqft) and still have two.

Heat rises so my upstairs is always hotter than my downstairs. I am pretty frugal with heating and cooling too, so I tend to keep my AC on a somewhat warm temperature. When I'm gone or primarily downstairs, I turn my AC upstairs to around 80 degrees. I also run my ceiling fan and a floor fan to help circulate the air which keeps it cooler. Close the blinds too, windows can let in a lot of heat!

I can't offer much advice on how much your AC is overworking itself, but I feel that making sure you have good air circulation could only benefit. Run fans both downstairs and upstairs and I'd turn on your vent fans too. Make sure they're clean too, dirty vents can cause higher electric bills.
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Ac
Old 07-25-2020, 05:12 AM
  #10

Maybe get an air conditioner like the one in the picture below for the upstairs area so it won't be so hot....

https://www.hammacher.com/product/ov...hoCVhYQAvD_BwE


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Old 07-25-2020, 05:30 AM
  #11

You could put a freezie pack on top of the thermostat for a short term solution.
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