What is the proper location for the thermostat in my house?

Thermostats control the operation of heating and/or cooling systems in your home. Proper location, maintenance and operation of your thermostat keeps indoor temperatures comfortable and can save on utility costs.

Your thermostat should be located on an interior wall near the center of your home. It should not be in direct sunlight or near radiated heat from fireplaces, radiators or other heat sources. Generally, the thermostat is placed outside the kitchen. It should also be away from doors and windows that open and close frequently. Thermostats are generally located about five feet above the floor so they can be read or adjusted easily, and they may be controlled by a gauge, a dial or digitally with a panel of buttons. Thermostats should be assessed as part of a home’s general mechanical system during a home inspection.

Most thermostats for gas-fired appliances also have a variable anticipator to help prevent overheating. The anticipator “fools” the heating unit into shutting down just before the room hits the set temperature so the heat remaining in the furnace finishes the job.

Whenever changing a thermostat or performing routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to make sure the settings for the anticipator are correct.


Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home and appliances.

Canada: gpiweb.ca/FindAnInspector
United States: npiweb.com/FindAnInspector

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For Maximum Comfort, a Heat Source in Every Room Is Necessary

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Family in living roomEvery livable space in your home should have its own heat source. You can have electric radiant heat in the floor or ceiling, hot water circulating systems and the like. For simplicity sake, the following pertains to a forced-air gas furnace:

Ideally, each room will have a supply and a return. The supply carries warm air to the room, and the return carries it back to the furnace to be reheated. Typically kitchens and bathrooms would not have returns to lessen the possibility of recirculating unpleasant odors and possibly moisture throughout the house. Although a furnace can be located in the garage, there should not be a supply or return register (for the purpose of heating the garage) located in the garage because car exhaust fumes could find their way into the home.

Supply registers are usually located on the outside wall and the return registers on the inside wall. If the house resides in a colder climate, it would be preferable to locate the registers in the floor to take advantage of the rising heat. If the house is located in an area where there are more hot than cold days, then it might be preferable to locate the supplies in the ceiling to take advantage of colder air dropping when the air conditioning is running.

As inspectors, we occasionally find homes that have room additions but for whatever reason, the contractor did not tie into the existing ductwork and simply hoped that heat will migrate into that new space. Following inspection standards of practice, a home inspector would write that up as an issue. (If tying into the existing duct work is not practical, then adding an electric baseboard heater might be a solution.)

To check the air flow from a supply, an inspector might use a digital or infrared thermometer, and/or an anemometer to measure air flow. Occasionally, we find a supply register present but not connected. Again, this is an issue that should be included in the report.

Put on your thinking caps for a parting question: Imagine a home in a cold climate, and it’s the dead of winter. The house has a bedroom located over a garage. This bedroom has a supply but no return. Otherwise, the furnace works properly. Will that room be warm or cold?

Answer: That room will be cold. The supply brings warm air to the room where it dissipates, but if the air is not carried back to the furnace to be reheated, then this room will be cold. This is especially true if the door to the room is closed.

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