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Old 01-30-2013, 07:35 AM
 
131 posts, read 88,362 times
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Default Are 2 storey homes more expensive to run due to heat ?

We are debating weather to buy a one storey or two storey home.

We are curious to know if there is a big price difference in air conditioning costs in the summer in cooling down one floor or 2 floors ?.

I did see on one house listing that it had 2 a/c units and it was a two storey, is this normal for a 2 storey home ?.

Thanks in advance !
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:38 AM
 
Location: South Tempe, AZ
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It helps to have two units, because you don't have to cool the upstairs all day if you aren't home, you can set that one at a higher temp until evening. Programmable thermostats help with this.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:53 AM
 
Location: Washington State
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I found this question intriguing and did some internet searches. The general consensus was that a 1-story is cheaper to cool due to the greater percentage of outer walls in a 2 story. This is sometimes negated if the 1 story has high ceilings.

On the other hand, it's about 30% cheaper to construct a 2 story than 1 story per square foot.

It would be interesting to hear a technical expert provide a thorough analysis on this issue.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
4,487 posts, read 9,799,496 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tall Traveler View Post
I found this question intriguing and did some internet searches. The general consensus was that a 1-story is cheaper to cool due to the greater percentage of outer walls in a 2 story. This is sometimes negated if the 1 story has high ceilings.

On the other hand, it's about 30% cheaper to construct a 2 story than 1 story per square foot.

It would be interesting to hear a technical expert provide a thorough analysis on this issue.
It's actually a bit of a myth that it's cheaper to build a two story home than it is a one story. I don't have a deep technical knowledge of the process however.

One thing we have to remember is that in the Southwest, in general, people don't build homes with basements. In the Midwest where I'm from, EVERY house has a basement. When you're building a single-story house in Arizona, the cost of construction isn't nearly as much because you don't have to contend with the construction costs of adding the basement. A one-story home may have a larger footprint on a lot and most communities have a restriction on a percentage of lot space you can take up. If you want a 3000 sq ft home but have a very small lot...you may not be able to have the space without adding a second story.

You do have to remember though...it takes more time to build a two story than it does to build a one story home. If you plan on building a house and want to move in as quickly as possible, you're much more likely to run into expensive complications building two stories than just a single story.

There are pros and cons to each; I'll never have a two-story home simply because they're more expensive to heat/cool, I dislike walking up stairs, and I generally think one story houses look better than when you add a second story.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:04 AM
 
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I agree, I see no appeal to a two story house. Only upside could be if it's a massive house and you want a smaller footprint so you have a larger backyard, otherwise, no upside at all.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:35 AM
 
Location: the AZ desert
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I do see some appeal to a two story house. Our first house was two story and it was all we would consider at the time.

In nice weather, we like to open windows and let the "fresh" air in. However, we don't like leaving ground floor windows open unattended; if we're not going to be in the room, we don't open those windows. We felt with a two story we could open the bedroom windows at night and have the cool air blowing in while we were sleeping. In order for someone to climb in, they would have had to put a ladder against the house. We figured they'd have to want to get into our house in particular, or else they wouldn't bother trying to find a way to climb up there. Also, the dogs slept with us and there was no way someone was going to climb up without them being announced.

Another reason, which didn't apply to us, would have been for someone who is a bit of a neat-freak. If the den/game room/play room is upstairs, there would be no frantic rush to straighten it up if someone rings the doorbell, since it wouldn't be easily seen from downstairs.

We also had a two story house in TX, (which gets very hot summers), and found the upstairs to be considerably warmer than downstairs. We threw a window a/c unit into a master window during the summer months, to help compensate. It wasn't quite the look we were going for, but it worked well comfort-wise. Many HOA's do not allow window air conditioners, so we wouldn't have been able to do that if we were in one.

Based upon that last experience, there is no way we'd consider a two story in the desert; most of you know we like to keep our house on the cool side.

So for some there may be appeal and for others not, regardless of the stairs which might be a consideration for some. It just depends upon what is important to you.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:00 AM
 
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I think energy efficiency has more to do with how well the house is built (insulation, windows, doors) than whether it's a one-story or two story. Also, in Phoenix you should try to avoid houses that have lots of windows on the east and west sides, to miniminize the amount of sunlight getting in the house.

hikernut
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:28 AM
 
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If you have a two-story with only one air unit like us, you have the problem that it is always warmer upstairs than downstairs. It is to the point that you either sweat in a couple rooms upstairs or freeze in a couple downstairs. Definitively, stay with one story or two air units.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Gilbert, AZ
1,886 posts, read 2,499,385 times
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Oddly enough, our one-story house in Gilbert that we live in has a zoned system with two AC units (one larger than the other), while the two story house that we are renting out in Tolleson has only a single heat pump. This zoning system seems to be quite effective, since typically the part of our house where my room is usually warmer than the master bedroom, and thus the larger AC unit that cools the living room and master bedroom tends to run less.

However, our one story house in Gilbert is 2692 sq ft, while the two story house we are renting out in Tolleson is 1517 sq ft.

Last edited by Pink Jazz; 01-30-2013 at 12:39 PM..
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Washington State
1,571 posts, read 707,971 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HX_Guy View Post
I agree, I see no appeal to a two story house. Only upside could be if it's a massive house and you want a smaller footprint so you have a larger backyard, otherwise, no upside at all.
I've always liked 2 story homes since I was a kid....just seems bigger due to the height maybe. I currently own 4 houses (2 in Az & 2 in Seattle area) and all are 2 story and one is 2 stoy plus a basement. I have noticed that in Phoenix in particular, the 2 storys are much cheaper per square ft.
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