Introduction: Trapped Ceiling Heat

About: I like to tinker, That is what I like to do. Sometimes I drop a rhyme, Along with a tool or two. I use what I have on-hand, I keep projects super simple. I do not need more stuff, What I do have is ample. Draf…

Baby it's cold outside.... The thought of heating my house makes me warm under the collar.  I have a forced hot air heating system.  I have been researching ways to make improvements or modifications to increase the efficiency.  This past winter I took a close look at heat trapped at the ceiling. 

There is usable heat trapped at the ceiling.  During my research I can not count how many articles I read stating the aforementioned presupposition.  I was excited to cash in or at least benefit from that statement.

If I move the heat from the ceiling, I can raise the overall room temp.

How much heat was trapped at the ceiling?
What would be the best way to move the heat from the ceiling down to the comfort zone?
Is it cost effective to pull that heat down and warm the overall room?

Let’s look at my results.

Step 1: Equipment

Acu Rite Wireless digital thermometer

Step 2: Test Procedure

Measure the temperature at 3 point in the living room; Ceiling, Mid and Floor for a week. 
The temperatures were recorded for 6 hours during the night, between 6 PM and 12 AM midnight, after the furnace turned off and every hour. 
We use Compact Florescent Light bulbs and the TV operates from around 8 PM - 11:20 PM. 
The ceiling is 8 feet high.

Ceiling – wireless sensor 1” (1 inch) from the ceiling.
Mid – digital thermometer 4’ (4 feet) from the floor.
Floor – digital thermometer 1 - 2” (1- 2 inches) from the floor.

Constant: Thermostat temperature set at 64F.  The Furnace turns on 1 degree below and turns off at 2 degrees above the set temperature.
Independent Variables: Ceiling temperature, Mid and Floor.

Note: The bracket holding the sensor is the bracket I made with my Impromptu Sheet Metal Break Bender.

Step 3: Analysis

Here is a summary of the data after a week of collecting.

Constant: 64F
CeilingAverage: 66.65F
Mid Average: 66.65F (the same average as the ceiling)
Floor Average: 62.77F

The Ceiling and Mid section of the room did not see any difference.  Furthermore there was less than a 4 degree difference between the Ceiling / Mid section and the Floor.  Nothing to become excited over with the exception of knowing the house is pretty well insulated.  There is no gain from moving the Trapped Ceiling Heat downwards.

Step 4: Observation, Conclusion & Summary

During my research I found a lot of web sites suggesting to run the ceiling fan backwards to circulate the trapped ceiling heat around so that you would feel warmer or to reduce the furnace usage.  Some sites made claims as to the disparity of ceiling temperature and floor temperature.  My results did not show such a variance.

After reviewing the results I did not pursue moving or circulating the Trapped Ceiling Heat.  The aforementioned results did not support my Hypothesis: "If I move the heat from the ceiling, I can raise the overall room temp.", because there wasn't much of a difference in temperature.  The cost of moving the air would have outweighed any improvement  to the overall results and / or the air would have cooled down to negate any benefits. 

Your results may differ.  Keep in mind I am heating with forced hot air, perhaps if you heat with wood or force hot water; moving or circulating the Trapped Ceiling Heat may be a viable option.

I am satisfied with the results, but I am disappointed in the concept of reclaiming Trapped Ceiling Heat.

Hear advice, and receive instruction, so that you may be wise in your latter end.

Scientific Method Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Scientific Method Contest