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Does the Placement of Your Thermostat Actually Matter?

Did you know your thermostat placement can give ghost readings, reduce your HVAC efficiency, and waste hundreds of dollars annually? In this article, we will explain why your thermostat's placement does actually matter.

Does the Placement of Your Thermostat Actually Matter?

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Fire & Ice Team


March 22nd, 2023

In short, yes. Thermostat placement does actually matter, and throughout this article, we will get into why. If you’re a homeowner, you’re probably familiar with how your thermostat works and its many functions. You can think of your thermostat as the brains of your air conditioning and heating system. It tells your system when the temperature in your home is too hot or cold. Then signals your HVAC system to turn on (or off) to set the temperature according to your preference. It seems pretty simple, right?

Well, many factors go into ensuring your home stays at your desired temperature; however, one of the most important is where your thermostat is located. A thermostat in an unconventional location can give ghost readings, reduce your HVAC efficiency, and waste hundreds of dollars annually.

In this article, we will explore how to choose the placement of your thermostat, the best and worst thermostat locations, what a ghost reading is, how to get the most out of your thermostat, and what to do if you need to move the location of your thermostat.

Let’s jump in!

How to Choose Your Thermostat Location

Many places in your home may look like a proper placement for your thermostat; however, to get an accurate average temperature reading from your thermostat, some locations are better than others.  

There are several factors to consider, such as the center of your home, the rooms you most occupy, windows, doors, direct sunlight, and how many stories your home is. Each of these locations will play a significant part in your HVAC system's overall operation and efficiency.

Another thing to consider when choosing the location of your thermostat is what kind of thermostat you should invest in, how easy the installation will be, and all of its features and controls. 

Also Read: HVAC Thermostats 101: Installation, Features & Controls

The Best Thermostat Locations

The Center of Your Home

One of the best places for thermostat installation is in the center of your home. The center of your home is typically in a hallway or living room.

Proper thermostat placement, especially in the center of your home, has several benefits, such as increasing the overall accuracy of your thermostat, adequate heating and cooling cycles, keeping consistent temperatures throughout your home, and lowering your monthly energy bills.

Frequently Used Rooms

You want to be comfortable in every room of your home, so when choosing the placement for your thermostat, you also need to consider your living habits—for example, where you spend most of your time in the home, like your bedroom, dining room, or living room.

Since you spend so much time in these areas, it is one of the perfect places to house your thermostat. Doing so will keep your most frequently used room at a comfortable temperature without compensating for other areas of the home.

First Floor

If you’re a homeowner with multiple floors, such as a cape cod or split level, the best and most common place for your thermostat is on the first floor. As we all know, heat rises. This means that putting your thermostat on a higher level can result in an inaccurate thermostat reading, lower energy efficiency, and a higher energy bill.  

However, if you have a larger home, you can invest in multiple thermostats for the rooms you frequent to keep a consistent temperature throughout your home.

The Worst Thermostat Locations

The worst thermostat locations are ones that are going to give your thermostat inaccurate or ghost readings. So, now that we’ve covered the best places to install your thermostat for the most accurate temperature reading, let’s go over the worst.

Near Any Windows or Doors 

This is one of the worst spots for your thermostat to live. The temperature fluctuations by a window or door are unavoidable and will cause your thermostat not to get an accurate reading.  

Also, with a constant influx of temperature, your HVAC system will overwork, thus resulting in a system's early retirement.

Direct Sunlight

Placing your thermostat in direct sunlight can also affect your thermostat readings. Due to the sunlight and your thermostat sensor, it will read a higher temperature than what your home actually is.  

Even on a cold winter day, a direct pathway of sunlight to your thermostat will trick its sensors into thinking that the temperature is higher than it is. This will trick your HVAC system into thinking it doesn't need to kick on (or off), leaving you, your home, and your family uncomfortable.

Above Any Air Vents or Registers

If you place your thermostat above an air vent or register, it will consider the conditioned air, not your home's ambient temperature. Think about it: the air you condition is sent throughout your home via the air vents and changes your home's temperature accordingly.

For example, if your air vent is sending out cold air to cool your home in the summer, then your thermostat will think it's colder than it actually is because of its proximity. Your thermostat will have inaccurate readings and will not turn on and off when it should. The same goes for when you are heating your home.

More Things to Consider

Another thing to consider when placing your thermostat is the height of your thermostat and installing it on an interior wall.

The perfect height for your thermostat is typically 50-60 inches off the ground. This height is ideal for an accurate temperature reading and for being easy to read. Keep in mind if your thermostat is placed higher, you may not be able to see it correctly and think it’s not working.

Placing your thermostat on exterior walls can take other factors into account, such as the temperature outside. Placing your thermostat on an interior wall ensures that the temperature change within your home is consistent without outside temperatures interfering with your sensor and giving you inaccurate temperature readings.

What Are Ghost Readings?

At this point, you may be wondering, “What is a Ghost Reading?” It is a term most often used by HVAC professionals to explain unnecessary system cycling. For optimal HVAC efficiency and performance, your thermostat must be able to respond and signal to your HVAC system correctly.

Ghost readings occur when the temperature on your thermostat doesn't accurately reflect the temperature inside your home. Not to mention, airflow fluctuation can also affect your thermostat's overall temperature accuracy.

How to Avoid Ghost Readings

Since one of the biggest culprits of ghost readings is the inaccurate placement of your thermostat, we wanted to explain a few ways in which you can avoid them.

     Place your thermostat about 5 feet (60 inches) above the ground and on an interior wall.

     Keep your thermostat away from hot or cold places in the home, for example, a fireplace, hot water pipes, windows, and doors.

     Steer clear from direct sunlight.

     Do not block your air vents or registers with furniture or rugs.

     Keep all furniture at least an arm’s length away from your thermostat, including underneath.

     Avoid installing your thermostat by any entryway, stairs, or any other area with poor air circulation.

     Invest in a smart or programmable thermostat.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Thermostat and HVAC System

In today’s day and age, one of the best ways to get the most out of your home's thermostat and HVAC system is to invest in a smart or programmable thermostat. On average, programmable and smart thermostats provide a better user experience, greater temperature control, and superior indoor air quality.

Furthermore, a programmable thermostat will help you set your indoor temperature at your optimal comfort level daily or weekly. On the other hand, a smart thermostat, like the Google Nest thermostat, will learn your temperature preferences and can set it without you having to lift a finger.

Related Content: Google Nest Farsight Thermostat Review (Benefits, Features, and Cost)

Thermostat Remote Sensor(s)

Investing in a remote thermostat sensor is one of the best ways to ensure you get the most bang for your buck regarding your thermostat. A remote thermostat sensor can give you complete control of your home's comfort and help regulate the temperature accordingly.

Thermostat remote sensors work by the sensor taking data - like the temperature - of a given room or space and relaying that information back to your main thermostat. The main thermostat will use the collected data and signal your HVAC system to turn off or on.

There are many benefits when using a remote thermostat sensor, such as monthly savings on energy bills, higher HVAC energy efficiency, and precise room temperature to keep your home at your optimal comfort level.

Other Things to Think About

Another thing to keep in mind is that thermostats can malfunction; however, this is typically because of poor calibration. Poor thermostat calibration happens when it is mounted and installed in a bad place, such as an exterior wall or another area with poor insulation, like an attic.

Nevertheless, your HVAC system and your thermostat work in tandem with one another; if one is off, the other will be, too.

What Should I Do if I Need to Move My Thermostats Location?

If you bought your house from a previous owner or didn’t get to choose where your thermostat is located, and it’s constantly malfunctioning or giving ghost readings, don’t worry; you can relocate it! Below are a few steps to follow when relocating and installing your thermostat.

     Determine your new location- as mentioned above, your thermostat should be on an interior wall, in a commonly used area, away from sunlight, windows, and doors.

     Turn off the power- you will be working with electrical wires, be safe and turn off the breaker for your electricity in that room first.

     Remove your thermostat from its back panel- typically, this is done by pushing a button or releasing a clip.

     Disconnect all wires- most often, the wires will be attached to metal screws or inserted into the terminal itself. Check your wires with a voltage pen before touching any loose wires.

     Run wires to your new location- if you need to install and run new wires to your thermostat's location, we heavily suggest investing in a professional since electricity is dangerous and can be fatal, even at a low voltage.

     Connect your new thermostat- ensure all electric cables have homes and are plugged or screwed in correctly.

     Test your thermostat- at this point, you should be able to turn your thermostat on and connect to your Wi-Fi (if applicable).

Relocating your thermostat can be a DIY job; however, if you have any hesitations or if you don’t have any experience in electrical or HVAC trade work, it's best to consult a professional.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, the proper location of your thermostat does actually matter. As mentioned above, it can contribute to several factors, like your HVAC system's overall energy efficiency, accurate temperature readings, lifespan, and more.

At Fire and Ice, we have installed, relocated, and calibrated thousands of thermostats in the greater Columbus metropolitan area. If you have questions about the placement of your thermostat or if you want to move it to a better location listed above, click the “schedule service” link below!

We look forward to serving you!

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