How Can You Improve Heating In Your Open Concept Home?

Posted on: 21 March 2023

Anyone who spends even a few minutes watching home improvement shows knows that open-concept housing is popular, but this design trend isn't free from drawbacks. While large, open spaces can make a home feel airy and comfortable, the high ceilings and lack of room divisions can substantially impact your home's energy efficiency and HVAC needs.

If you're noticing problems with the heating in your open-concept home and looking for possible upgrades, you've come to the right place. This guide will discuss three options for upgrading your home's heating system to make it work more efficiently and effectively with an open floor plan.

1. Perform a Detailed Load Estimate

While open floor plans can affect heating efficiency, a properly-sized system should still be able to maintain appropriate temperatures throughout the house. Hot and cold spots, a short cycling furnace, or excessively long heating times often indicate improperly sized heating equipment. These issues may occur due to improper original installation or renovations that changed your home's heating needs.

If you're concerned about how your heating system keeps up with your open-concept home, the best place to start is to have a heating contractor perform a load calculation (known as a "Manual J") for your home. This calculation will allow you to determine if your current furnace is over or undersized for your home, allowing you to make an informed decision about a potential upgrade.

2. Add Zones

Most homes with an open floor plan design still feature areas with a more traditional, room-based layout, such as an upstairs with bedrooms and a hallway. While a single zone can still work in these situations, you may find that you need to adjust your thermostat often or that some household members find parts of the house too warm or too cold.

Adding one or more heating zones can be a good solution, allowing you to set one temperature for the open part of your home and another for the bedrooms. This approach has added benefits for energy efficiency, as well. Since you'll typically only need to heat your bedrooms at night, you can save on heating costs by lowering the thermostat to the upstairs zone during the day.

3. Utilize Radiant Heat

Most American homes use forced-air heating systems, which rely on a central furnace to heat air and push it throughout the house. This design relies on air circulation to fully heat a space, but the high ceilings in open-concept homes can force you to waste energy heating the space above your head. This design leads to inefficiency and may also result in your home taking longer to heat.

One solution is to add supplemental radiant heating, such as underfloor heating, in these parts of your house. Radiant heating works by heating objects directly rather than heating the air, helping to make these spaces more immediately comfortable without the need for air to circulate through the high ceilings.

For more information on heating, contact a professional near you.