You might imagine your ‘place of comfort in the desert’ is both a refreshingly cool escape from the summer heat and a cozy, invitingly warm winter cocoon. Of course you want your home to be a veritable utopia of comfort– your Oasis, so to speak. Reality may smash that dream when you sense hot spots where you expect to be comfortably cool or cold spots where you expect to be snug and warm — shattering that perfect vision! Uneven distribution of comfortably conditioned air is a common problem – and it can be fixed!
What Causes Hot and Cold Spots?
The thermostat regulates the temperature of your home to exactly where you set it and should be located away from an outside door or wall and near an air return in order to do its job properly. Because every home is subject to uneven heating and cooling effects from the sun and weather outdoors, which cause your home to absorb or lose heat unevenly no matter how well it is insulated, some spaces may become uncomfortable.
Six Things You Can Do to Minimize or Eliminate Hot and Cold Spots:
1. Inadequate or patchy insulation of walls, ceilings or attics are often at fault. Check with your insulation contractor or get a TEP energy audit.
Air balancing is a simple and effective way to increase the efficiency of your complete system. It involves having your professional HVAC technician adjust the apertures of each register to adjust air flow routing more heat or cooling to areas not getting enough. For example, your first living area, where the thermostat is located, seems to be cooler than the bedroom area, the registers on the cool side can restrict air flow forcing more cool air to the bedrooms and preventing the living area from getting so cool the unit cycles off before the bedrooms reach a comfortable temperature.
2. Orientation of unshaded south-facing walls will absorb heat or exposed north-facing or wind-swept walls may lose heat.
If air balancing does not quite cut it, zoning your system may be the way to go. Using a 2-story example, an automatic damper system can be installed dividing the upstairs and downstairs into individual zones, each controlled by its own thermostat. Zone temperature sensors installed by your Oasis professional to control the comfort of a particular area make special rooms like the nursery or grandma’s bedroom just right day or night!
3. If there is a hole, kink or other defect or obstruction in the ductwork, expensive conditioned air can leak into the attic, the outdoors or just get bottled up at a dead end. If your home was built before the 1990’s when it became mandatory to seal ductwork you might have a leaky system that should be sealed.
4. Leaky poorly weather-stripped doors and windows, even insulated windows, let cold and hot air in like water flooding a sinking ship. Large expanses of windows are great when you want to appreciate the view but even the best insulated windows create an extreme burden on your HVAC system.
Highly efficient insulated windows make an enormous difference even when you don’t have a wall of windows.
Make sure to take advantage of beautiful insulating window treatments to minimize heat transfer if that works into your design plans.
Clever people make shrewd choices when designing, renovating and building! A 2-stage HVAC system like Trane’s ultimate XV18, with a variable speed blower, variable speed compressor and variable speed condenser motor, adapts to fluctuating interior conditions and exterior influences eliminating hot and cold spots at your house.
5. Because warm air rises, multi-story homes and rooms with beautiful high cathedral ceilings are often subject to uneven distribution of conditioned air. In winter, warmth floats up… up and away from you — which might actually work to your advantage in summer but which leaves you chilly in winter.
You can use a ceiling fan on reverse to circulate warm air back down to the living space.
Not ready for a brand new 2-stage system? You can ask your HVAC expert about installing a variable speed blower which will continually move conditioned air—both winter and summer, at high efficiency, eliminating hot and cold spots –keeping you comfortable year round!
6. If the size of your HVAC equipment is not properly matched to the size and demands of your home, you will be expensively uncomfortable. “Bigger” is not always better. When a system is too big for the size of the house, it will satisfy the thermostat too rapidly and won’t run long enough to circulate conditioned air or remove enough humidity. An undersized system does not have the power to push air to the farthermost end of the duct system or to stir up hot or cold pockets. This undersized system wastes power, is overworked and ages prematurely from unrelenting wear and tear.
Oasis can perform a custom load calculation which considers unique factors such as the size of your home, its insulation, the number of windows and doors it has, the amount of sunlight it gets, and its orientation to the weather. A careful assessment done by an HVAC professional will make sure you get right equipment.