Home Buying in Elk Grove>Question Details

Jack, Home Buyer in Sacramento, CA

Utility costs of 2 story vs 1 story of the same sq ft.

Asked by Jack, Sacramento, CA Fri May 1, 2009

i have heard from friends that their engery costs doubled when they moved into a 2 story house from their 1 story house of the same square footage. Being that in physics, heat naturally rises, so the 2nd level will generally be warmer than the 1st level. With central heating and air, it seems there will always be an inbalance which would cause the unit to continually run trying to find balance when set on automatic. Would you agree?

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Hi Jack: Call PG&E and SMUD with the address of the home you have in mind and they will tell you what the energy cost average is for that home. I advise my buyer clients to do this before they remove their contingencies, but in your case, it is great to help you decide whether to purchase a single story or two-story home. My educated guess would be that the one-story home would be more energy efficient if all other things were equal, such a insulation, efficiency of HVAC units, square footage, etc.

I would be happy to refer you to a great agent in Elk Grove .

Erin Phillips
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://SoldByErin.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
If the dryer is indoors always crack a window nearest it so it can pull air into the home the most direct route and not throughout the house through various places thus blending with the indoor air and affecting the equipments ability to keep it cool or warm. Every bit of air that the dryer discharges outdoors via the dryer vent hose is being replaced from the outside from the negative pressure created when the dryer is on, bath fans, jennair grilles, stovetop fans, all discharge the interior air to the outside. I have seen fireplaces actually backdraft and send smoke into the home due to negative pressure created by a fan or dryer or most often a leaking supply duct ! as it isnt supplying 100% of the air that the unit removed from the home, everytime the furnace started the fireplace wouldnt draft properly! a craced window stops that , preferably as close to the intake of the device . this is why i prefer garage laundries. digital programmable set back thermostats, timers for electric water heaters, flow resriction devices for the water and front loading units are less thirsty as well, these types of things are more important than the 1 or 2 story issue, given the same sq ft i would always prefer a 1 story, they have a larger footprint so the developers that wish us to be concentrated in soviet style block rows without a yard close to mass transit cant stuff enough of us per acre on it to satisfy their greed or agendas.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
All 2 story homes that are "open" from the 1st floor up to the 2nd floor will always be warmer upstairs and cooler downstairs! It doesnt matter if there are zone controls etc , cause once the indoor fan stops the heat rises and the cool air falls and there is no recirculation from the return air intake (upstairs) to send to the supply registers. In winter the 1st floor will be much cooler than the 2nd floor, In summer the upstairs will always be warmer than the 1st floor. Just as the open top freezer cases at the market stay frozen without any lid ! the cooler air falls and stays low unless circulated by leaving the fan switch on the thermostat in the "on" position (continuous) rather than the intermitantly cycled "auto" setting. The return air grill is upstairs and recirculates the homes air making the differential between the 2 floors less noticable, ceiling fans in the living room will also help a great deal if set to proper direction for season! Once the thermostat is satisfied aqnd the fan stops , warm goes up and cold falls , and rather quickly too! the zone controls systems are useless for keeping the 2 floors equal in temps for this reason! the real benefit to the zone systems is that builders install undersized equipment (cheaper) as the 2 zones in the home are unable to operate simultaneously!! its either or! not both! that goes for cooling too! typically the formula was 500 sq ft per ton , yet with zoning see 3 ton systems on 2,500 sq ft 2 story homes!. there is actually less heat lost with a 2 story as the first floor is covered by the 2nd!! However the heat temp differentials from the 2 flooers will have a great variance with equipment off.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
While you might expect a two story to require more energy to heat/cool than a one story the factors others have listed here, such as insulation, windows and sealing around windows, age/condition of the HVAC, lifestyle of the occupants...all play factors in the costs.

You might call the utilities for the average cost for a specific home, as Erin has suggested. The other idea is to address the specific problem of your friends and have them call for a free energy audit. It may not be so much that it's a two story as some of the other factors mentioned. It's also a good way to work towards making their home 'greener' through some little steps.
Web Reference: http://www.suearcher.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
Good morning Jack,

There are a few variables to this question. Do you have new dual or triple pane windows in the house. How old is the hvac unit. Has new insulation been installed What type of roof material. These are just a few items that could change the energy cost of a home. I think in general that most 2 story homes are less efficient but there does not have to be a big difference between the 2 floors if the home is maintained properly.
Good luck,

James
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
I'd check with PGE or SMUD as they likely have statistics. My thought on it is, it would depend on if there
was only one air conditioning unit, or multi-unit. If only one unit, and the house is not insulated extremely well, that utility rates would be higher in a 2 story. If you have a separate unit running just upstairs, then
maybe not as much of a difference as you could set them independently.
Web Reference: http://www.annaboyd.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 1, 2009
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