Do Higher Ceilings Waste Heat?

From : Marilee

"We are considering building our home and being the general contractor again. We have lived in our current home for 15 years.

We did a great job the first time around, and since we just paid off our mortgage, we would like to do it again.

I would like to hire a draftsman again and give him my ideas on what would be my dream home instead of showing him a model home and making changes, which is what we did the first time.

I would like to build our home based on our life style and focus on those areas. For example, my husband loves to cook, so the kitchen is a prime focus.
I love the open concept with separate dining room or extra living room that we never use.

Am I being unrealistic to think I can’t have my ideas come to life without it costing a fortune as many people have told me? (I was also told that an in ground pool was out of my league, yet we put in a beautiful 20x40 Grecian pool for $14,000!)
Our home is currently 3 levels. I’m thinking ranch style open concept, possibly walk out basement.

One thing I don’t like about our home now, is when people are over it always seems so hectic and noisy. Is that due to our ceilings being 8ft?

Will high ceilings/open concept eliminate that?

My husband says high ceilings aren’t good because we would be wasting heat???

Your advice please."

Hi Marilee,

My advice is to keep doing things the way you have been doing things…ignoring the advice of other people.

I looks to me, like you have excellent judgment and are not afraid to try your ideas, once you get past the input of “well meaning” friends.

You have already proven you can build your own house (Congratulations) and that you know how to “shop” (a beautiful 20x40 Grecian pool for $14,000!!).

So here’s my input, which you, and your husband, are certainly free to ignore.

One of the main advantages of going through the work of being your own General Contractor is so that you can have some of the “goodies” that you otherwise might not to be able to afford.

One of these goodies is a gourmet kitchen, which the other half of your team (your husband) is already getting.

Another “goodie” is high ceilings.

They add so much to the “wow” factor of a house, yet they don’t cost all that much more to build, or heat.

Vaulted ceilings are another matter all together, but you did not mention those, so I won’t get into them.

You only have to have 9” ceilings to achieve both a feeling of space and grandeur.

With 9’ ceilings, you don’t need larger windows or interior doors & trim, so the extra cost is minimized.

As to the “wasted heat”, your local utility (gas or electric) can tell you approximately how much more rooms with 9” ceilings are to heat (and cool) than rooms with 8’ ceilings. I believe you will be pleased with the answers.

Whether or not something is a “waste” is a very subjective matter. I don’t think it is. There are a lot of things in a house that waste heat more than 9” ceilings.

There might be a little noise reduction with 9 footers, but I never have noticed it.
Usually, noise or noise reduction is a function of the surface areas of a room, rather than the room size or height of the ceiling.

Carpet (even area rugs), drapes, wall coverings, soft furniture, etc. all cut down noise more than anything else.

I remember once I took a tour of the sound testing room of a chainsaw manufacturer and was astounded at what I found.

It was huge room with walls and ceiling covered in soft “sound absorbing cones”. Sound was absorbed so efficiently, you could not talk to anyone…you could not hear your own voice….very, very, spooky.

So, insulate the hell out of your house, turn the thermostat down 1 degree, and give yourself a treat with 9’ ceilings, you’ve earned them.

Carl Heldmann,