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Choosing the best location for your home thermostat can make a big difference in your HVAC system’s efficiency and comfort. On the other hand, incorrect thermostat placement will lead to ‘ghost’ or inaccurate temperature readings. As a result, your heating & cooling system will either not run enough or turn on too often, leading to uneven heating & cooling and increased wear & tear. At the same time, this will cause unnecessary wastage, causing a significant increase in your energy bills.
Thankfully, you can avoid these challenges by installing your thermostat in the right location when you’re upgrading your home thermostat or building a new house. In this guide, I’ll show where you should and shouldn’t place your thermostat. But first, let’s look at why the placement of your home thermostat is important.
Why does the location of a thermostat matter?
A home thermostat is a set of controls that regulates the output of your HVAC system to ensure that a comfortable temperature is maintained. Simply put, a thermostat monitors the average space of your home and sends a signal to the heating & cooling system to ensure that the space is not too cold or too hot. To accomplish this, the thermostat assumes that the air around it represents the air around your home.
The thermostat displays the recorded temperature on its screen and sends signals to the HVAC system, instructing it to either start or stop. For instance, if you set the thermostat temperature to 73 deg F, the heating system will produce heat to warm the air until the device reads the desired temperature.
To sum up, a home thermostat works by sensing the ambient temperature. Unfortunately, room temperature can be affected by external factors like light and drafts. This will lead to a false thermostat reading as well as inadequate cooling & heating in your home. Therefore, it’s important to place your thermostat in an area that isn’t vulnerable to these factors. Other notable effects of improper thermostats include; increased monthly utility bills and reduced comfort in your home.
What is a ‘ghost’ thermostat reading?
As mentioned above, one of the main problems caused by improper thermostat placement is ghost’ readings. What exactly is it? In general, ‘ghost’ reading is a term that is commonly used by HVAC specialists to describe unnecessary cycling in heating and cooling systems. This can occur when the air temperature around the thermostat is different from other areas in your home. As a result, the thermostat reading will be inaccurate, hence affecting the efficiency and optimal performance of your HVAC system.
Here are some thermostat placements tips you can follow to prevent your device from recording ‘ghost’/ inaccurate readings;
- Place your thermostat at least 18” away from an exterior wall and about 5 ft above the floor
- Don’t install the thermostat near windows that allow direct sunlight as this can increase your cooling costs
- Put the thermostat away from doorways to ensure that drafts don’t trigger your heating system to run overtime
- Avoid placing the thermostat near heat sources like fireplaces, hot water pipes & heater vents
- Keep your thermostat away from furnishings that block natural airflow around your device
- Don’t place the thermostat near drafty stairways or poorly-ventilated corners.
How to avoid installing a thermostat in a bad location
Installing your thermostat in some areas, otherwise known as a localized cold or hot spots, can lead to false low or high readings. Therefore, it’s important to avoid placing your home thermostat in those areas. Besides, knowing areas to avoid is a crucial step when looking for the best place for your home thermostat.
That said, some of the places you should NEVER install your home thermostat are;
1. Exterior walls
Exterior walls tend to be colder in the winter and hot in the summer. As a result, their radiant temperature will be lower in winter and high in summer. This will affect the temperature readings of your home thermostat, which can make the HVAC system unnecessarily and increase your utility bills.
Most homeowners assume that hallways are the best place for a home thermostat. However, if you want your HVAC system to keep your family comfortable, the hallway is not the perfect place to install the thermostat. This is because the hallway and other less-used areas don’t represent the average air temperature of the entire house. Besides, this will make the hallways more comfortable than other parts of your home, yet they are empty most of the time. More notably, hallways are usually long and narrow, which restricts airflow and decreases the accuracy of the temperature readings. At the same time, people will constantly bump into it in the hallways, probably changing the settings without noticing.
3. In Direct Sunlight
Exposing your wall thermostat to direct sunlight increases its chances of getting false/ ghost readings. As I mentioned earlier, the thermostat records the temperature of the surrounding air and uses that information to determine whether the HVAC system should kick in. Unfortunately, if the thermostat is near a skylight or surface that is heated by direct sunlight, it will think that the room is warmer than it actually is. As a result, it will trigger your Air Conditioning system to kick in unnecessarily. Alternatively, your heating system will stay off since the thermostat cannot accurately determine the temperature of your home. These inaccurate readings make your HVAC system waste a lot of energy by cycling off & on unnecessarily. To avoid this problem, don’t put your thermostat in a room with west or east-facing window.
The kitchen generates most of the heat in your home, making it one of the warmest rooms without the help of your heating system. Besides, the kitchen houses many appliances that generate heat like ovens and stoves in a concentrated area. This makes the temperature in the kitchen wildly different compared to other parts of your home.
Therefore, placing your thermostat in the kitchen will read a higher temperature than the rest of your house truly is. Consequently, this will trigger your AC to turn on when you don’t need it. Similarly, your heating system will stay turned off when it should be on due to the false reading picked up by the thermostat. In short, if you’ve installed your thermostat in or near the kitchen, there is a good chance that your heating & cooling system isn’t running as it should.
Bathrooms are usually warm and humid. Therefore, your thermostat will show false reading if you install it in the bathroom. More notably, this can cause the AC system to run continuously since the thermostat is sending signals to your HVAC system that it’s too hot in the bathroom.
6. Near Air Vents
Although this looks like a no-brainer, it’s a very simple mistake to overlook. Installing your thermostat below or above the supply vent will lead to false readings. This is because the air that blows out of the supply vent is either cooler or warmer than the overall temperature in your house. As a result, this will trigger the HVAC system to turn on and off frequently, thus affecting the overall comfort of your home.
7. Windows & Doors
Installing your thermostat near doors and windows acts the same as placing the device near air vents. Drafty windows cause the surrounding areas to cool down. Therefore, placing the thermostat near them will make the readings appear as if the room is much cooler than it actually is. On the other hand, installing the device near doors exposes it to more outdoor air than the rest of your home since they’re constantly being opened & closed. Either way, this will cause your heating and cooling system to cycle on & off without ever reaching a comfortable temperature.
8. Near TV sets & lamps
Placing a home thermostat near electronic devices like TV and lamps causes it to heat up, making the room a lot warmer than it actually is. In return, the thermostat triggers the AC to turn on unnecessarily, which can lead to a significant increase in your utility bills. According to the US Department of Energy, keeping TV sets and lamps away from your thermostat will help you save energy.
Where should you place your home thermostat then?
Choosing the ideal location for your thermostat is as important as ensuring you have the best smart thermostat on the market. Besides, strategic home thermostat placement will help to improve the efficiency and performance of your heating & cooling system.
With that in mind, here are some of the best places you can consider when installing a home thermostat;
1. In a central location
Typically, the best location for a home thermostat should not be exposed to a lot of temperature fluctuations caused by heat sources or drafts. In most cases, the center of your house has the most steady temperature since it isn’t exposed to significant changes in ambient temperature. Also, a central location is usually the most actively used area in the house. Even better, putting the thermostat in the center of your house will make it easy to access the device for adjustments.
The central location in most homes is usually outside the master bedroom. Moreover, this area is less likely to be affected by outdoor temperature or drafty windows. At the same time, a central location allows free movement of air, giving your device an accurate reading.
2. On an interior wall
Interior walls reflect the average indoor temperature of your house better than outside walls. Outside walls experience temperature changes due to outdoor weather conditions like rain, and snow. However, that’s not the case with interior walls, making them the perfect place for installing your home thermostat. Best of all, interior walls provide a more accurate indication of your home’s average temperature.
3. Frequently used areas
The main aim of buying a thermostat and installing it in your home is to ensure that the most frequently used room is always comfortable. Therefore, the most frequently used area is another excellent spot for installing the thermostat to ensure that the area maintains an optimum temperature. A good example of the most commonly used area in many homes is the living room. However, you should ensure that you don’t mount the wall thermostat near huge windows that get direct sunlight or a lot of wind. This will help to prevent ghost reading from interfering with the performance of your device as it heats or cools your living space to meet your needs.
4. First floor in a 2nd story building
The best location for a thermostat in a two-story house is on the 1st floor, instead of the 2nd floor. This is because hot air rises, causing the 2nd level of the house to be warmer. Therefore, putting the thermostat in the 2nd story will give misleading information that the whole house is getting warmer when it isn’t. as hot air rises.
So, if you’ve got a 2nd-story house, consider placing the device in a central location on the 1st floor like the living room. Alternatively, consider installing dual-zone home thermostats as this will give you better climate control.
Now that you know the areas to avoid and the best places to install your thermostat, I hope you’ll find the perfect spot in your home. For excellent results, install your device in a central location, on an interior wall that doesn’t have ducts or pipes running through it. In addition, the device should be at least 52 – 60” away from the floor. More importantly, avoid things like supply vents, heat sources such as TV sets, and direct sensors.
If possible, consider getting yourself a smart thermostat with many room sensors or install a zoned heating system. This will help you to avoid some of the potential issues associated with having a single thermostat controlling the temperature of your entire house.
1. Where should you position a smart thermostat?
If you have a smart thermostat, ensure you position it in the range of your Wi-Fi connection. In addition, make sure it’s out of the way of things that might block its sensors. More importantly, it should be at least 5 ft above the ground, in the most frequently used room, in the center of your home, and on an interior wall.
2. What is the ideal height for your home thermostat?
The recommended height for installing a wall thermostat in a single-story home is about 60” or 5’ above the floor. This allows it to provide an accurate temperature reading while being at a height an average person can reach. However, in a 2-story house, the device should be installed on the 1st floor high up onto an interior wall in the most central part of the house.
3. Can you move the thermostat into another room?
In most cases, moving a thermostat from one place to another involves dealing with electrical wiring and some potentially dangerous steps. All in all, it’s possible to move the thermostat into another room as a DIY task. However, it’s highly recommended that you contact an experienced electrician to move the thermostat for you.
4. What is the best temperature to set your home thermostat in a single-story house?
The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at a temperature of 78 deg F (26 deg C) during the summer. During winter, you can set the thermostat to 68 – 78 deg F (20 – 22 deg C). However, the actual temperature for your home thermostat will be influenced by various factors like your comfort level, budget, personal preferences, and where you live.