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How to solve room temperature problems

Room temperature thoughts

Is room temperature a problem in your home? Maybe you have a room or two that always seems to be a different temperature than the others. Too hot in the summer. Too cold in the winter. Nobody wants to spend time in there.

What causes this problem? And how do you fix it? The answer may be very inexpensive and simple, or it may require a major investment. Read on.

Room temperature is often no big mystery. The solution may be as simple as one word: airflow.

Room temperature thoughts

Your air conditioner’s airflow may not be spreading throughout the house evenly. When a room is hotter than the rest of the house, the first thing to look at are the air vents, or registers. These vents should be able to be opened and closed easily. You should also be able to direct the air by moving a slider.

To cool off that hot room, you may simply need to open that room's air vent all the way. Conversely, you may need to partially or fully close the vents in a few other rooms of your house to send more cooled air towards the room that is too hot.

You can also purchase relatively inexpensive products that will cover your vents completely, divert airflow, or even assist with higher airflow.

A magnetic vent cover (approx. $6), for example, creates a complete seal over a closed vent, ensuring no cool air (or heat in the winter) seeps out.

An air deflector (approx. $8) is like a little helmet for your air vents, and is adjusted to push warm air down in the winter and cool air up in the summer.

Adding a register booster (approx. $75) -- dual fans that are actually installed into an air vent -- can sometimes double the amount of air flow in a room.

A conversation with an HVAC professional can also be helpful if you're stumped. Contact us at any time with questions.

Bringing in the room temperature reinforcements

Room temperature study

If a room remains uncomfortably warm after you've checked and configured the air vents, you may want to consider putting a fan near the doorway. A fan will direct cooler airflow into the hot room. Obviously, this will only work if the door to that room can be kept open.

You can also consider a window-mounted air conditioning unit to bolster your existing cooling system. If this isn’t feasible, the last-ditch, do-it-yourself solution is to simply turn the thermostat down to cool your entire home.

The upside is that cooler air, combined with some of the tactics we've mentioned (a fan to push cool air into the room, a register booster to increase air flow, etc.) should bring sweet relief.  

The downside? Higher electricity bills and a tougher workload for your air conditioning unit. Cranking up the AC is probably a temporary solution until a pro can check out your specific air conditioning issues.

There’s one more reason that particular room get unpleasantly warm: electronics. Televisions and computers generate a lot of heat! A large desktop computer can actually raise a room’s temperature up to 15 degrees.

Incandescent light bulbs generate heat, too. Consider switching to LEDs.

Turn off any devices that could generate heat when they are not in use. This should save you some money on your electric bill, too.

Dust in the ducts?

If none of these tips help cool that hot room, you may need to get your air ducts cleaned. Dust and debris trapped in your ducts may be restricting airflow.

When the room is too cold: More flow, more heat

Room temperature

Restricted airflow can also be the issue when you have a room that's always cold. Check the vents or registers.  

Are they open? Some may even be marked on the ductwork to indicate settings for summer and winter.

Are they blocked — by furniture, rugs, or drapes? 

Look at your furnace filter. Is it filthy? A dirty filter is one of the most common cause of heating and cooling problems. Change the filter and see if the cold room gets warmer.

Finally, if you have a hot-water radiator that doesn’t seem to be doing its job, check to see if its air-locked. Air is always going to get into your radiator system. In small amounts, it doesn’t cause a problem. But if too much builds up inside, it prevents the water from moving through the system freely and stops heat from being distributed easily. You can bleed the radiator yourself, or call in a heating repair and service expert.

If all else fails, a portable electric space heater is one solution, but in addition to being unattractive, they can also be burn or fire hazards. Larger units may overload your electrical circuits.

Big-ticket solutions to heating and cooling a room

Insulation is a big help, especially in older homes. Improving a home's insulation is a major job, and estimates for a home insulation job will cost roughly $1 or more per square foot (plus hourly contractor fees).

Is polyurethane expanding foam a good fit for your walls? Or batts (those fluffy fiberglass rolls we've seen the Pink Panther shill for years)? Loose-fill insulation can be blown into wall cavities, and sprayed-on fiber can be used on open walls. You'll need to talk to a contractor about the best way to approach your specific situation.

New windows may be in order. Energy-efficient windows, window treatments and window awnings can have a dramatic effect on the amount of heat allowed into a room, or how much air (hot or cold) can escape.

Blinds, drapes and window films will also dramatically impact a window's performance. Like an insulation job, new windows are an investment that can't be taken lightly -- but if new windows prevent you from wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars each year on energy costs, they will eventually pay for themselves.

Other options suggested by Family Handyman Magazine include built-in, radiant floor or ceiling heating; duct booster fans; toe-kick heaters; cove heaters; or room-to-room ventilators. None of these solutions will be cheap! But, at the same time, you may kick that issue with room temperature once and for all.

Talk to us about room temperature solutions

Do you have any questions? You can leave a message in the Comments section— or schedule service if you’re ready to solve the problem today.