Does Thermostat Placement Actually Matter?

Did you know that the location of your thermostat has an impact on your home’s heating and cooling costs? Your thermostat placement can give ghost readings, reduce your HVAC efficiency and waste hundreds of dollars annually. Each of these factors lead to wasted energy and high energy bills. If you suspect poor performance from the above symptoms, we recommend calling a heating and cooling professional to assess the situation. Moving a thermostat requires moving essential wires throughout the house and should only be done by someone who is trained in this field of expertise.

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.

Below, 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.


The Thermostat’s Job

First, consider the important job your thermostat performs for your HVAC system. Initially, it measures the temperature in the room. The theory is that the air around the thermostat is representative of the air around your home. If you have a digital thermostat, it will display the recorded temperature on the digital screen.

As it registers the air’s temperature, it will send electrical signals to your HVAC system, telling it when to start and stop. If it is not registering the temperature properly, it will not signal your system at the right times. This leads to many areas of your home not achieving your desired temperature, and more frequent heating and cooling cycles.

Not registering a representative temperature doesn’t necessarily indicate a malfunctioning thermostat. Rather, it could be that your thermostat is not placed properly, with factors that may make it read either too hot or too cold.


The Best Thermostat Locations

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.

  • Interior Wall

One of the finest places to set your thermostat is against an inner wall of your home, where you can be sure of getting the most accurate readings. Inside walls, unlike outside walls, are unaffected by changes in temperature. They also provide a more precise indication of the average temperature in your home.


  • The Center of Your House

The center of your house serves as the best place for an average temperature reading. Having a more accurate temperature reading is crucial for your HVAC system. The more accurate a thermostat reading, the more efficient your heating or cooling system will work. As a result, you can enjoy better home comfort, reduced energy bills, and a longer-working system.


  • The First Floor of a Two-Story Building

Since hot air rises, the second level of your home is usually warmer. A thermostat in the second story will provide the misleading impression that the entire house is getting warmer when it is not.

Instead of installing it on the second story, consider placing it in a focal place on the first floor, such as the living room. This location is crucial for a balanced environment in a two-story construction. Installing dual-zone thermostats for better climate control would be ideal.


  • A Frequently Used Room

When thinking about where to place your thermostat, consider which rooms you use the most in your home. For most homes, it is the living room. You want your most frequently used room to be the most comfortable. Putting the thermostat in a busy room makes it easily accessible and ensures that the area will constantly be comfortable.


The Worst Thermostat Locations

So, now that we have 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.

  • In Direct Sunlight

The thermostat monitors the temperature of your home and automatically adjusts the cooling and heating system to the desired temperature. If you place it in direct sunlight, the thermostat will “think” that the interior temperature is warmer than it actually is. The air conditioner will turn on even when it is not actually needed.

This can happen even during winter. Beams of direct sunlight can influence the thermostat reading, causing it to needlessly turn on. In case your thermostat gets sunlight for a couple hours a day, you can mitigate this issue with window treatments like curtains or blinds.

  • Near or Above Any Air Vents, Drafts or Heat Generating Equipment

Air Vents: If your thermostat is close to an air vent, cold air from your air conditioner may blow on it, leading it to misread the temperature. It could cause your air conditioner to short-cycle, which is terrible for the system and your home’s comfort.

Drafts: Drafts can come in through windows, doors, fans, and air vents, affecting the temperature readings on your thermostat.

Heat-generating Equipment: If your thermostat is near heat-generating equipment (especially in the kitchen), it will report warmer temperatures than the rest of your house, causing your air conditioner to operate longer.

  • Near the Kitchen

Keep your thermostat out of warm rooms like kitchens or particularly sunny rooms. Your kitchen is probably one of the places in your home where it can get warm without the help of your heater. Why? Because it is where heat-emitting appliances are located—stoves, ovens, dishwashers, etc.

  • Ideal Height

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.


What Are Ghost Readings?

If your home often feels too hot or cold even when the temperature setting on the thermostat says it should be comfortable, it may not be reading accurately. If so, your thermostat can be generating ghost readings. This occurs when something interferes with the thermostat’s capability to provide an accurate temperature. Your home’s thermostat works by monitoring the temperature and using that information to regulate when your furnace or air conditioner turns on. That is great in theory, but note that it only takes account of the temperature immediately surrounding the thermostat. If that area is warmer or colder than the rest of your home, you will struggle with uneven temperatures and unnecessarily high utility bills throughout the year.


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

Relocating your thermostat can be a DIY job. However, if you have any hesitations or if you do not have any experience in electrical or HVAC trade work, it is best to consult an Aire-Tech professional.

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).


Give Us a Call

Keeping your Southern California home cool during the scorching summer heat just got easier, with help from Aire-Tech! We give you countless resources to help you explore and learn about HVAC and energy efficient options for your home.

If your system needs repair or inspection, call Aire-Tech on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.