If you're currently working with a home builder to design your next home, you're going to come across floor plans that have vaulted or cathedral ceilings. These are touted as grand features for entryways and living rooms, creating an open, spacious feel. However, they're notoriously difficult to heat. Here are some issues to take into consideration when trying to decide if you want a home that includes these higher ceilings.
Up, Up, And Away
Higher ceilings mean warm air is going to rise higher. Warm air will float up toward the ceiling, wherever that may be in a room. If the ceiling is higher, the air will travel further away from the lower half, where you're going to be. That will make you feel a lot colder than you should, and while there are ways to make the situation a little better, they'll require money and patience.
If you're in a region with mild winters, you might be able to get away with using a ceiling fan. Fans have two settings, one for when it's hot and one for when it's cold. In colder weather, set the fan so that it's turning clockwise when you look up at the blades. The angle of the blades lets them scoop up air -- so you don't have a breeze adding to the coldness of the room -- and that air pushes away the warmer air that was already up near the ceiling. The warmer air moves down toward the floor where you are.
However, that won't be as effective in colder regions simply because you'll feel much colder to begin with. It will take much warmer air to make you feel warmer. It's not unusual to have to set your thermostat about 10 degrees higher to ensure the lower half of the room is at a particular temperature. That can lead to massive heating bills.
Window and wall insulation are crucial, but even those face a tougher situation. Vaulted ceilings usually have bigger windows to match. Even well-insulated windows are going to let your house lose some heat, so the floor-to-ceiling windows in the room with the vaulted ceiling are going to let even more escape.
If you still decide to go with the vaulted-ceiling plan, ensure your home's heating system is extremely efficient. That will cut down the utility-bill cost at least a bit. You might also want to look into having heating vents placed lower in your home, rather than having the heating and cooling systems use the same vents. If you have more questions about how to heat a home with a tall ceiling, contact a heating service and repair company.