The debate about energy efficiency as it relates to the number of stories (floors) in a home is not a new one. The crux of the debate has to do with heating and cooling, since that accounts for nearly half of the typical homeowner’s energy expense. The consensus has always been that a single-story home is more energy-efficient because heat rises, resulting in a larger temperature variance and additional burden on climate control systems. And this is correct, since warm air will always make a beeline for cooler air in an effort to balance things out. There are however several other variables that aren’t often considered that might make a two story home more efficient than you think.
Why Two-Story Homes Can Have an Edge, Energy-Wise
The largest, most often overlooked advantage of two story homes as it applies to energy efficiency is surface area. A two story home of the same square footage as a single is going to have a smaller footprint. Because roofs and foundations contribute significantly to temperature transfer, homes with smaller footprints do have an advantage. The condensed design of a two-story home also results in less plumbing which reduces temperature loss of heated water. And the adjacency of rooms and walls further minimizes conduction, which is the transfer of heat through structural components.
More to Consider
Before you start applauding the fact that your two-story home might be more efficient than your neighbors single, you should also know:
- Corners minimize circulation. And if your home has lots of angles and nifty architectural features vs a simple box design, it might be harder to control temperatures.
- Two story homes with open, high ceiling floor plans will exaggerate temperature transfer making it harder to cool the top and heat the bottom floors.
- Sun exposure as the result of trees, bushes, architecture, the number of windows and orientation all significantly contribute to climate control.
In other words, there are numerous other structural factors that affect how energy-efficient a home is, which by far overshadow just the basic premise of whether it is a single or two-story design. And in the desert climate of Las Vegas there are even other environmental factors to consider including; the type of insulation, HVAC components and condition, lighting sources that generate heat, roofing and construction materials. Fortunately many builders, especially in new homes address these concerns. 2 separate air conditioning units are common place in most newer 2 story Las Vegas houses as are higher quality windows, window covers and the installation of ceiling fans.
Other Ways You Measure Up A Homes Efficiency
If you are shopping for a home, there are resources available to check energy consumption history. NV Energy is able to provide historical information on power usage which may expose problems or remedy concerns about a houses condition. The presence of modern appliances including programmable thermostats and energy efficient lighting are a good indicator that a home may cost less to occupy.
A final consideration is the condition and age of a homes electrical system. If you live in an older Las Vegas or Henderson home, it could be time to have your homes wiring and electrical panel inspected by a licensed electrician to make sure that everything’s safe and capable of meeting today’s power demands — which is definitely different from what a home required even a few decades ago before the advent of the digital age. In the Las Vegas / Henderson area contact us any time to schedule such an electrical inspection. It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to electricity!