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Thread: Winter return

  1. #1

    Winter return

    Greetings, I have a question about adding a ruturn just for winter.

    I live a small ranch in North Texas where it is mostly hot but we get some freezing. My HVAC has two returns both located near the floor in hallways. The only thermostat is in the living room where I have a wood burning stove. In the winter when I run the stove, it gets nice and warm in the LR but the bedrooms freeze.

    I think that my problem could be solved with adding a return up on the sidewall to the living room. The idea is that I would draw the warm air from the livingroom instead of from the cool hallways. The downside would be that it would be very difficult to change any filter there.

    Also, our HVAC guy told us we should leave the fan on "on" instead of "auto" so we have done this for the past few months. Is this a good idea?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,347
    Quote Originally Posted by patook View Post

    I live a small ranch in North Texas where it is mostly hot but we get some freezing. My HVAC has two returns both located near the floor in hallways. The only thermostat is in the living room where I have a wood burning stove. In the winter when I run the stove, it gets nice and warm in the LR but the bedrooms freeze.

    I think that my problem could be solved with adding a return up on the sidewall to the living room. The idea is that I would draw the warm air from the livingroom instead of from the cool hallways. The downside would be that it would be very difficult to change any filter there.

    Also, our HVAC guy told us we should leave the fan on "on" instead of "auto" so we have done this for the past few months. Is this a good idea?
    The reason the rest of your house gets cold when the wood stove is running is that the thermostat is in the same room with the wood stove. Even if you placed a return near the thermostat in the living room, the thermostat would pick up radiant heat from the stove if it shares a direct line of sight with the stove.

    The solution is to move the thermostat out of the room where the wood stove is and locate it into the hallway where the returns are. The thermostat can then sense more of the air returning from the bedrooms and hall and regulate the furnace likewise. It will also draw some air from the living area, but will be mixed with the colder air returning from other areas.

    You may find, however, that if the furnace runs more with the thermostat in the new location, the living room may become too warm with the wood stove in use. Maybe, maybe not...if your living area is marginally insulated and has a lot of glass area, it might be okay on a cold day.

    Running the HVAC system fan in "on" is not a good idea during the cooling months. When the compressor is not running, the system will dump humidity back into your house as the cooling coil dries out. Let the blower shut off with the compressor.

    For the heating season, a continuously running blower can produce uncomfortable drafts when the heat is not on. If your ducts are in the attic and leak, you will pull cold air into the house from outside through leaks in walls, windows, etc, and then have to pay to heat that air up as well as the air already in your house, which has become colder as a result.
    Furthermore, ducts in the attic are only insulated up to R8, so continually running air through them with no heat being added will result in heat being lost from the home to the attic over time.

    If you are finding your house overall difficult to keep warm or cool, consider adding insulation/radiant barrier to the attic, if needed, and going for more thermally efficient windows/doors. I also live in North Texas, and it seems our winters are becoming shorter and summers longer. If that continues, making your house more thermally efficient will only pay off over the long haul with increased comfort and reduced energy use, and reduced dependency on a wood stove for heating, lowering pollution.

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