To vault or not to vault the great room?
My husband and I are getting ready to have our retirement house built in northwestern Virginia (zone 4A). We’re going for a “Pretty Good House” in terms of insulation, windows, etc… It seems that most floor plans with a master bedroom on the main level have a “great room” (approx 18×20) with a 2-story vaulted ceiling. Guest rooms are upstairs, which is perfect for us. We can orient the exterior wall of the great room to face south for passive solar gain in the winter. While a 2-story tall wall of windows would look spectacular, I’m very concerned about heating all that high ceiling area. It seems to me that a 10 or even 11-foot ceiling in the great room would allow for plenty of window space and hold the heat in the room during the winter evenings. So from a green design and building perspective, should a great room be vaulted or not? Thanks for your opinions!
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