Just moved into a home that is a 40 year old raised ranch about 2000SF. When you walk into the front door, there is a foyer that cuts through to the back of the house. From the foyer you can go through a door on the left into the garage, or up 9 stairs to the right to the main floor with 3 bedrooms, LR, DR, kitchen, or to the right down 4 stairs to an English basement (below grade, but can see out the windows outside), where there is a large family room, another bedroom, bathroom, and large utility room.
The thermostat is located in the English basement, and I have noticed some things right away. When the heat is on, the upstairs is hotter, so I am learning where to set the thermostat so it is where I want upstairs, but the downstairs is cooler. With the big foyer and staircase, heat rises, of course. On the one hot day we have had so far (low 80's), I turned on the air and the downstairs was nice and cool, and the upstairs was still hot, so I had to turn the thermostat down even further than I would normally. (I understand that the cool air is coming down the stairs to the lower level).
Never having a raised ranch before...how do I handle this? Do I keep the thermostat where it is and learn where to set it so the upstairs is comfortable, or do I move the thermostat to the upper level and live with the fact that the lower level will always be more cooler - summer and winter? Do I talk to a HVAC contractor about zones? (from what I read, this is expensive and probably is not an option). How about a thermostat with sensors where I can keep the thermostat where it is and put a sensor upstairs to average out (or move the thermostat upstairs and put the sensor downstairs - or even have more than one other sensor)? I have also seen where Honeywell makes a wifi thermostat where you can carry a remote with you so that the temperature is based on where you are in the house.
We will probably spend most time upstairs, but my older daughter's room is downstairs, along with the family room.
You said "I understand that the cool air is coming down the stairs to the lower level", but do you understand that it does this all year long? Heated/hot/warmer air will always rise and cooler/cooled/cold air will always sink.
Any home with open stairwells from one floor to the other are always a challenge to balance the heating and cooling year around. When you make one of those floors a basement it gets even more involved.
Your best starting point is to cover two things at once. Find yourself a good heating and air conditioning contractor that you can form a relationship with and trust so you have someone to do maintenance and repairs if needed on your HVAC system and also they can help by educating you on how your system is installed and functioning now and what the options are to balance out the different floors.
For the short term you can try turning on your furnace fan to continuous on, this will "sometimes" help to balance out differences in temperatures. Zoning can also go a long way towards resolving the issues, but is only money well spent when done as a whole system approach.
You can and should move the stat into the "living area",but that is not likely your problem.I can't remember how many raised ranches I had to run a return air to.I remember one where they had installed 4 supplies into that lower area and still couldn't get it comfortable because there was no return in that area so that the old air had a place to go when the new conditioned air is coming into it.
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