How Home Design Influences Comfort
Envision yourself meeting your real estate agent at a house. The agent has lauded this house, telling you it has all the must-haves on your list. She unlocks the front door and invites you inside.
Instantly, you see why she considers this house a frontrunner. The main floor living area features the dramatic high ceilings and open-concept floor plan you requested. The front windows offer a wide vista of the neighbourhood. There’s even a gas fireplace for added warmth and coziness. After you walk through the rest of the house, you quickly begin a discussion about whether it fits your home-buying budget.
Whether you want to buy a new house or you feel satisfied with the one you live in now, your first impression of a house likely has more to do with its architectural features than its internal temperature. However, you may not have considered that a home’s design influences how well it maintains the perfect temperature. This blog examines the link between your house's architecture and how comfortable you feel.
Overall Room Design
Let’s begin our examination of home design and comfort by looking at large and noticeable elements. The following sections describe features of the overall floor plan and basic room design.
Open Concept Floor Plan
Open concept floor plans have stayed popular during the last few decades. Typically, an open concept floor plan has the kitchen, living room, and dining areas as one large room. This design allows people in the various living spaces to interact freely.
Open concept floor plans became possible because of central heating. Central heating allows larger rooms to stay warm, even without the dividing walls that contain insulation for added heat retention.
Open floor plan lovers should remember that rooms with more air volume tend to cost more to heat and cool. Localized heating for smaller rooms is more efficient, but that fact shouldn’t deter you from choosing open concept. You can compensate with well-placed vents and a powerful but energy-efficient furnace and air conditioner.
Hot air rises. This occurs because warm air is less dense than cool air. Because of this air property, a room with high ceilings stays cooler in the summer. But high ceilings also make a room harder to keep warm during the winter.
If you like the look of dramatic high ceilings, remember to consider the additional heating and cooling costs these ceilings create. You may have to run your heater more during cold months to ensure the room has warm air near the ground, not just near the ceiling.
Similarly, you might have to run your air conditioner more during warm months. The room’s extra volume makes it harder to maintain a consistently cool temperature. Well-placed air vents, fireplaces, and ceiling fans may offset the inefficiencies of high-ceilinged rooms.
Individual Room Features
A room’s overall layout isn't the only factor that contributes to its temperature control. Let’s examine other features that give rooms added comfort.
Most people think of ceiling fans as a way to circulate air during warmer months. During the summer, ceiling fans promote air circulation so air doesn’t stagnate in a room and make it muggy and uncomfortable. Ceiling fans allow you to keep individual rooms cooler without running your air conditioner on full blast.
Some ceiling fans can help you during the cold winter months too. Many fans have motors that operate in two directions. If you reverse the fan’s rotating direction when the weather turns cold, it will force warm air down. The blades should rotate clockwise and at a medium or slow pace.
Ceiling fans produce the best results when their blades are 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 in.) below the ceiling. In rooms with high ceilings, hang them 2.5 to 2.75 m (8 to 9 ft.) above the floor.
It’s obvious that a fireplace generates extra heat, but traditional fireplaces can’t effectively add warmth to a room. Unfortunately, the firebox pulls some of the already warm air out of the room and allows it to escape up the chimney.
If you want the ambiance and comfort of a fireplace, fireplace inserts or built-in gas fireplaces work better than traditional wood-burning versions.
- Fireplace inserts fit into existing fireplaces and help the fireplace hold and release heat better. A fireplace insert consists of a steel or cast iron box with insulated glass on the front.
- Built-in gas fireplaces are perfect for rooms that have no current fireplace. Choose a model with a fan that blows hot air into the room so the entire room feels the extra warmth.
A home’s design, floor plan, and features all affect how well it maintains the desired temperature. The house’s HVAC system should complement these elements so everyone in the house feels comfortable.
If your house has rooms that become too warm or cold, you should consider whether modifying your home’s features or upgrading your HVAC systems will give those rooms the desired comfort level. Our HVAC specialists at East Side Ventilation can help you make those assessments.
For more information, be sure to check our other blogs or contact our helpful and experienced staff at East Side Ventilation.