Why Is My Upstairs Colder Than Downstairs In Winter?

Two story houses from city rowhomes to suburban split-levels can all suffer from the same problem: The upstairs rooms are colder than downstairs in the winter. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to fix this problem today. And, with the latest in HVAC technology, your home can become much more comfortable than you ever imagined.

In this article, I’ll outline:

I’ve been a product manager for Peirce Phelps, a national HVAC distributor. I keep up on the latest innovations. And, I work with dozens of installers who have worked in thousands of homes across Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

If you live in those states, click below for a free consultation from a certified dealer. Or, download a free product guide for more ideas on how to make your home more comfortable.


Top Reasons Upstairs Is Always Colder Than Downstairs

If you’re wondering why your second floor is so cold in the winter, here are some problems to check for:

Thermostat Is Far Away

If your thermostat is located downstairs, it won’t accurately measure the temperature upstairs. As a result, the heater turns off when it’s still cold upstairs but hot downstairs.

Static Pressure Buildup

Static pressure buildup is when there is not enough airflow in your HVAC system. The airflow becomes weaker the further it gets from the furnace. Since the second floor is furthest away, pressure is weakest up there.

Faulty Ductwork

Leaking air ducts or problems with insulation can also cause airflow issues. Heated or cooled air leaks out behind the walls before reaching the vents, resulting in uneven heating in your home.

Attic And Roof Heat Loss

Heat rises and is attracted to cold areas. If your attic is not properly insulated or ventilated, the warmth escapes through even the smallest openings.

High Ceilings In Master Bedroom

High ceilings in a master bedroom contribute to uneven heating in a home. Warm air rises to the top of the room where you can’t feel it.

Five Ways To Address Rooms Upstairs That Are Always Too Cold

Here are five ways to address why your upstairs bedroom is so cold when downstairs feels fine:

Change Your Air Filter

A clogged air filter will block airflow, resulting in less heated air reaching the top floor. If cold bedrooms are a new problem, start by putting in a new filer. Then, change it every month.

Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat can use multiple sensors to get better temperature readings throughout the home. This helps your system better treat the upstairs.

Repair or Modify Ductwork

Leaky ductwork results in weak air pressure. Or, a poorly-designed system won’t properly circulate air throughout the house. The latter is especially common in older homes where ducts were installed years after the house was built.

Unfortunately, it’s also a common problem in new construction. Installers often have to put in ductwork around obstacles, resulting in extra turns that impede airflow.

Dual Furnaces

You can install a second furnace on the upper level of your home. This provides a separate thermostat for the second floor. And, you’ll get better air pressure with the blower motor close to each room.

Mini Split Heat Pump System

A mini split uses a heat pump to provide high-efficiency heating. You can install an air handler in just one room, or use multiple units to treat more than one part of the house.

Finally, you’ll notice that “space heater” isn’t on this list. You can pick one up for around $50 at a hardware store and just plug it in. But, these are fire hazards, especially if left unattended. You can’t fall asleep with one running.

Mini Split Vs. Dual Systems

Mini-splits are an excellent choice for older homes or homes with rooms that are difficult to heat or cool. You can install air handlers in a few rooms that need extra treatment.

On the other hand, a dual system can treat an entire floor with a second furnace. The two systems provide separate temperature control for each level.

But, a furnace and central air conditioner uses more energy than a mini split. That means higher utility bills in the winter. And, you don’t get control over the temperature in each room individually. Finally, a furnace makes more noise, which will be close to where you and your family are sleeping.

Our Recommendation

With a mini-split system, you can customize the installation to pinpoint the rooms you need to treat. They provide both heating and air conditioning and are whisper quiet, easy to install, and energy efficient.

The upfront cost is often more than a second furnace. But, you’ll save money over time with lower energy bills.

And, budgeting for the installation is easier by taking advantage of cashback offers. Your installer can fill you on federal tax credits and rebates, manufacturer promotional offers, and incentives from your utility company.


Is it normal for upstairs to be colder than downstairs?

It’s common for upstairs rooms to be colder than downstairs. Hot air rises and then seeks any path out of the house as it’s attracted to cold air outside. Poor insulation, air leaks, and ductwork issues can also contribute to uneven temperature distribution.

How do you keep upstairs and downstairs the same temperature?

A smart thermostat with multiple sensors can help keep upstairs and downstairs rooms at the same temperature. If the problem is severe, the best solution may be a second heating system upstairs. A mini split or zoned system is often best for addressing one or two rooms.

How do I increase airflow to my second floor?

To increase airflow to the second floor, make sure the HVAC system is appropriately-sized for the house. The ductwork should also be clean and sealed. Open all vents, and use fans to move warm air around the house.

Are you ready to learn more? Get a free consultation to learn more about mini split installation professionals in Cherry Hill, NJ or anywhere in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland.