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Best practices for thermostat settings
I live with several roommates in a 2 story house in Texas. Our electric central heat system has two thermostats and allows for separately heating the downstairs vs. upstairs. Recently we've been debating the most cost effective methods to heat the 2nd floor to 63 degrees. The temperature downstairs is considered unimportant except in terms of how it relates to the total cost of heating the upstairs as well as the stress on the heating unit.
One group contends that it makes more sense to set the downstairs thermostat to 63 degrees and let rising heat warm the upstairs. The primary reasons given are that heat produced from the upstairs vents will escape more quickly, and with closed bedroom doors, heated air will be less likely to reach a thermostat in the upstairs adjoining hallway.
The opposing argument is that using the downstairs vents to heat the upstairs will use more electricity than setting the upstairs thermostat to 63 degrees, simply because much more of the house is being warmed. The contention is that although running the upstairs heat may warm the bedrooms faster than the hallway, the air being blown out of the vents must result in air being pushed through the vents and gaps at the bottom of the doors, and thus it is a mistake to think that doors are preventing heat from reaching the thermostat. Also, since the heater doesn't run as hot when it runs for short periods of time to maintain a steady temperature, the temperature in the rooms tends to equalize with the hallway as the fan blows air out of the rooms.
And so the question in a nutshell is, does it make sense to use the downstairs thermostat to heat the upstairs, or should that primarily be the job of the upstairs unit?