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Old 06-10-2008, 11:38 AM
 
47 posts, read 161,732 times
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I am looking for 3500 - 4000 Sq Ft new houses in Murphy, Wylie, Plano and Allen and come across various floor plans with High Ceilings and Low Ceilings.

Even though I am not very picky on the height of the ceiling, I get different views from my Realtor and friends.

My friends recommend a low ceiling, because in Texas for a 4000 sq ft house with high ceiling, the utilities bill is going to be high even with hot air staying up. But my Realtor, is recommending a high ceiling (almost throughout the house) for openness and resale. Is it worth investing in a high ceiling and paying the extra utilities bill?
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
790 posts, read 1,818,753 times
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What are the proposed ceiling heights?
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:07 PM
 
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Low Ceiling - 10 to 12 Feet

High Ceiling - 20 - 24 Feet
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:11 PM
 
Location: The Big D
14,874 posts, read 23,874,869 times
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For your lower level you do want high ceilings (most are going to be 10'-14'). In the entry way most are open to the upstairs which makes it nice and "roomy" feeling when you walk in. HOWEVER, I DO NOT LIKE FAMILY ROOMS WITH THE OPEN TO THE SECOND FLOOR HIGH CEILINGS!!! Here is why: NOISE, the kids playing upstairs in the gameroom which is most likely in a floorplan open to the family room has a railing open to it and the noise gets VERY LOUD!. Doesn't give it a nice "homey" feel. Ours are 12' in our family room and it is great with the gameroom upstairs right above it and not overlooking it so the noise is not as bad. With the large OPEN family room your going to most likely have windows going up the entire wall. This will cost more to cover w/ tint (I highly recommend anyway) and for window treatments. Unless you tint them and you don't want anything covering them at all except maybe a "top treatment".

Yes, higher ceilings throughout the house are a huge resale factor. But it does not have to be two story high throughout the bottom floor. Our formal living & dining room have 20' ceilings but there is nothing above them nor is any room upstairs open to them.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:29 PM
 
3,688 posts, read 7,685,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by househunter1970 View Post
I am looking for 3500 - 4000 Sq Ft new houses in Murphy, Wylie, Plano and Allen and come across various floor plans with High Ceilings and Low Ceilings.

Even though I am not very picky on the height of the ceiling, I get different views from my Realtor and friends.

My friends recommend a low ceiling, because in Texas for a 4000 sq ft house with high ceiling, the utilities bill is going to be high even with hot air staying up. But my Realtor, is recommending a high ceiling (almost throughout the house) for openness and resale. Is it worth investing in a high ceiling and paying the extra utilities bill?

I have high ceilings in my house and there is a price to pay when you have it. My master is on the first level while the kids bedrooms is on the second. Getting the thermostat just right for everybody is a juggling act. During the winter my room stays pretty chilly while the kids complain it's hot. During the summer it's just the opposite. I dual zone HVAC system and I still have this problem. Having said this I still prefer the high ceilings because it gives the house a very open feeling. There is a trade off for having them but for me it's worth it.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Texas
106 posts, read 302,082 times
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Default Just right

Interesting topic, because I had same with co-workers today concerning AC, ceiling height, and Energy bills.

Our 2 story house has all 10 foot ceilings with some at 12 and master vaulting to 14. Our only area with 24 foot ceiling doesn't really count because it is in the stairway area though it is a hall/stairway combined.

Because of the size of the house, we have three AC units including one that serves just the Master bedroom. It turned out this way due to builder, not because of us. But this was one of the things we liked and led us to purchase the house. It is a very nice feature to control Master bedroom at night because my wife sleeps better at colder temp at night.

Back on the subject, we truly love the higher ceilings, and warn that once you get used to it ... it's hard to go back. In fact, when we visit friends with lower ceilings, it makes the houses seem smaller and tighter in space.

On the energy costs, we have ceiling fans in every bedroom, and other family type rooms. With having three AC units, we are able to balance the cooling in the house. And our builder is very energy efficient, and we have updated the house with improvements ourselves. I believe this is the key with higher ceilings ... having ceiling fans and good energy design. Sorry if this is a "doh" type statement, but I have seen many high ceiling homes with something like open lofts or vaulted living rooms or even two story ceilings over living rooms but they are not good on energy savings over all ... so higher ceilings make whole home hotter and harder to heat/cool.

Just as a aside, but I don't understand why home AC design hasn't changed to like auto design with zone cooling. The ability to control cooling in zones, would mean you only have to cool sleeping area's at night instead of rest of home. Or living area's during day, where ever the home owners are at instead of the whole home. Even on the smallest of homes, cooling one or two rooms is cheaper than whole home.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:56 PM
Status: "The man likes to play chess; let's get him some rocks. Red" (set 6 days ago)
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
3,973 posts, read 9,413,706 times
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Yes high ceilings are worth the extra cost in utilities. If you're building from scratch, you can pay extra to have additional zones put in for the first floor, for example one for the master bedroom only, or one side of the house and the other side. If you have a media room, you really want a separate one for there too. When that room is filled with people, the body temperature adds to the heat and it becomes very uncomfortable.

If you have additional rooms upstairs that you don't use on a regular basis, you can close the vents & put those magnet strips to direct the airflow to other rooms that are being used etc...

Naima
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:10 PM
 
2,278 posts, read 4,245,387 times
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We've got 10' ceilings with an open to the second floor great room area. I love it. But I've also got no kids at home.

And yes the heating/cooling costs are to be considered, but there are also ways to alleviate some of that. Make friends with ceiling fans. It will help keep the air circulating so your system doesn't have to work as hard.
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Lake Highlands (Dallas)
2,395 posts, read 5,705,386 times
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We have a single zone, but also a single story and only 2576 sq ft. Living + office + dining = 10 ft ceilings. Master = 9 ft. The other 3 bedrooms and all the bathrooms are standard 8'. The kitchen is 8', but has a very large skylight with a recessed area for uplighting, so it feels much more open.

While you may save a few dollars each month by having multiple air conditioning units (which is really a requirement in a 2-story home), keep in mind they need to be replaced about every 10 years. If you have 2500 sq ft and 2 units, one for the living area and one for the sleeping areas, you may save a few hundred bucks a year... but in 10 years, you'll have to replace two units, which will more than use up all your savings.

"Zoned" air conditioning, where there is a single unit and a series of automated dampers will certainly help to keep your costs to a minimum (both energy and unit replacement costs).

While we're on efficiency - 2 story homes are inherintly less efficient than single story homes. It's an issue called the "heat stack effect". Homes are a closed system (or mostly closed anyhow). Warm air seeks the highest location, while cool air seeks the lowest. This creates pressure differences. If your 2-story home has 10' ceilings, you'll have an overall interior height of about 21 feet. Neutral pressure is about 10.5' - everything higher is "pushing" on your ceiling. Everything lower is "pulling" on your air seals (doors, windows, etc). The further from neutral pressure, the greater the pressure difference. Therefore, if you have a single story 8' ceiling home, the ceiling is only 4' away from neutral. If you have 24' in height, the ceiling is 12' away from neutral. Greater distance from neutral = greater heat loss/gain due to leakage caused by pressure differentials.

So, purely from an efficiency perspective, lower ceilings = more efficient. Obviously you need to strike a balance between efficiency and aesthetics. This is one of the reasons my wife and I opted for a single story home (plus her mother has one leg, so she doesn't have to deal with stairs when she comes to visit - and we'll never "age out" of our home due to stairs). I personally think a single story, 10' ceiling home strikes a very nice balance. The higher ceilings give a much more open feeling without the efficiency losses of vaulted ceilings, higher (12'+) ceilings or going 2-stories.

I do think that in 5-10 years, energy efficiency and slightly smaller homes will become major selling points. Some article I read a while back had polled architects - which said that a 2300-2500 sq ft home was going to be the "sweet spot" from this point. People are moving away from wanting MORE space and wanting BETTER QUALITY spaces that they will use more. Just a few years ago, 2800-3000 sq ft homes (according to the article - if memory serves me) was considered the norm. Energy prices have influenced this change tremendously.

Brian
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
8,761 posts, read 18,171,106 times
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Quote:
So, purely from an efficiency perspective, lower ceilings = more efficient.
Have not heard this side of efficiency re: two-story houses, but I would think fans would also take care of some of that. The two-story does have advantage of having a higher volume to surface ratio, which lowers the heat flux into the house. Of course, insulation can take care of a lot or that....
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