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user-1044545 | Posted in General Questions on


This may be a little odd question for you experts here but I’m making house vs condo considerations and the major factor is the heating costs which are included in the condo maintenance

In the house I’m considering, there are 3 levels. The landlord tells me it’s a single thermostat. Is it relatively easy to convert a natural heating system to create 3 thermostats? I mainly plan to use the 1st floor for the first few years and would like it in the mid-70’s (health reasons) while keeping the other floors at mid-60’s. How efficiently would this work given that the house has an open layout? Would it lead to any energy savings for me at all or would the heating costs be equivalent to keeping the whole home at mid-70’s?

I know it’s hard to make a judgement with little information but give me the best you can do

In the future, if possible I’d like to create a separate heating thermostat for a single bedroom on the 3rd floor (it has doors you can shut so that should insulate the heat in). Do people do this?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Yes, it's possible to provide a heating system with three zones and three thermostats. But it may not be possible to achieve that with the existing heating system -- only by installing a new heating system.

    You guessed correctly that an open floor plan with open stairways is not conducive to zoned heating. If you want to keep your three floors at three different temperatures, you'll have to install partitions and doors to separate the floors.

    What type of heating system is in the house now?

  2. user-1044545 | | #2

    It was converted from oil to natural gas heating 2 years ago. The reason for my question is for 5 years or so, we'll only really need a single floor and then only will expand into other floors. But I don't like moving every few years and definitely need a backyard which a condo doesn't provide

    What kind of range would I be looking at to install a new natural gas heating system?

    Also, if that house costs $600/month to heat at 65, would it be fair to say it'll cost about $780 at 75 (3% for every degree)


  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    You didn't tell us whether you have a hot-air furnace or a boiler (hydronic system). It's usually easier to zone a hydronic system than a hot-air system.

    I have heard the rule of thumb that lowering your thermostat setting by 1 degree saves about 3% of your energy bill, but it's only a rough rule of thumb. Actual savings will depend on the climate and the weather.

    There's no way to give you an estimate for installing a new heating system without knowing much more information. It's safe to say that you can spend between $6,000 and $40,000 for a residential heating system.

  4. jklingel | | #4

    Just curious.... Where are you? Is the $600/mo a yearly average, or winter-only? How many square feet is it? Is that about normal for your area?

  5. user-1044545 | | #5

    I just know it was converted from oil to natural gas 2 yrs ago (not sure about furnace or a boiler). I've asked around and it seems a house this large costs about $600 to heat (i'm in a nyc borough). The house is a 26x35 building size sitting on a 50x100 lot.

    I'm wondering if a house's heating bill is public info and I can just call the heating company and ask. Or maybe the owner doesn't find it rude of me to ask her for the heating bill (don't want to take a seller's word on what their heating bill is)

  6. user-1044545 | | #6

    Sorry john - left out a part of my answer. $600/month is only for the coldest months of nov-feb. Lower in oct & march

  7. Kevin_in_Denver | | #7

    It wouldn't be rude to ask for a year's worth of utility bills.
    Xcel Energy (a midwest utility) will give anyone the 12 month average, and the high bill and the low bill, and the months they happened.

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