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Which floor is normally warmer?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by velvetfoot, Nov 30, 2006.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    In a two story well-insulated colonial with an open staircase, which floor is normally warmer with only the central hot water heat going, one zone assumed.? I am thinking the top floor but I have no empirical information.
    Thanks.

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  2. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    As others chime in, the first floor. In my colonial that's how it was when I turned on the heat and it was one zone, I had R21 in the attic.

    Although heat rises you also have to consider where the cold surfaces are. Mean radiant temperature is the single most important factor when determining comfort level, more so than air temperature. In the upper floor, you only have a warm floor but a wall(s) & ceiling are cold surfaces and they suck the heat out of you. Whereas the lower floor you have warm ceilings, & warm floor and only cold wall(s). Only one surface sucking the heat out. For every 1F colder of the mean radiant temperature you need to increase air temperature around 1.5F to compensate. Also, as the heat shuts off, each room of the top floor has 2-3 cold surfaces and will cool faster whereas the first floor has 1-2.

    *EDIT* I should add, if your first floor has many oversized windows and your upper floor has some small windows, the upper floor may be more comfortable and cool slower. Tough call, well insulated may mean you get a heat build-up in the upper floor, raising the mean radiant temperature there over the lower floor, and it more comfortable.
  3. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the response-makes sense.
    When I'm sitting on the couch watching TV (okay, lying on the couch) next to the stairs with the stove (downstairs) on, I can feel the cold air flow down the stairs, so I assume hot air is going up.
    Another thing: although I haven't measured them, I believe the baseboard lengths on both floors are comparable. The attic is R38 and the windows downstairs are larger, but not hugely.
    I guess the only thing to do is to experiment.
    My nefarious plan is to save oil by emphasizing the zone heating downstairs (where, not coincidentally the one working thermostat will be) and eliminate the human factor on the second floor thermostat-that is, until I'm discovered. :)
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    My nefarious plan failed on the first cold evening with the stove running downstairs. I blamed it on a "loose wire". Oh well.
  5. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Oh, now I understand what you wanted to do! No, the female factor is EXTREMELY sensative to temperature readings, and issues dealing with said devices. I have disconnected the heating wires from my thermostat, and was summarily scolded on the phone at work in the mornng, and it repeated when she got home. Females have very little tolerance when it comes to messing with devices dealing with their heat, if you get caught. On occasion when my wife was "cold" and went to work 3 hours after me, I would come home for lunch and find the house cooling off and currently 78F. That made me very angry, I'm the one who pays for the heat.

    The only thing that works, is the "illusion". I got a programmable thermostat and I found I can calibrate the display +/- 4F. You want to wait until a warmer than usual day and make the display show a temperature 1F warmer than it actually is. Wait a week for another warm day, and make it display yet another degree warmer than it is, rinse and repeat. I've learned from my wife she's perfectly happy as long as she "thinks" she's in 72F but I've adjusted the display to show 4F warmer than it is at this point, and haven't heard a peep.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I love your solution, but I don't think my thermostat is programmable.
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