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Getting an accurate temperature reading is critical to keeping your home at the comfort level you desire. The placement of the thermostat determines how accurate that reading is.

Your home’s thermostat is the headquarters for maintaining comfortable room temperatures. The thermostat records the temperature of your home, particularly the room in which it is placed, and uses that information to determine whether the heating and cooling system needs to kick on.

Follow these rules provided by Rosie on the House Certified Partner, Green ID, and avoid inaccurate temperature readings.

Ideal Thermostat Placement 

In a nutshell, the best placement for the thermostat is on a central interior wall, away from direct sunlight, air vents, the kitchen, hallways, windows, and doors.

Install the thermostat 52 to 60 inches above the floor for a couple of reasons.

  1. Heat rises. So lower than 52 inches may read too low, while above 60 inches could read too high.
  2. This height prevents accidental bumps to the thermostat, which can cause unwanted setting changes.

Play By The Rules To Achieve Maximum Comfort

Rule #1 | Don’t place in a beam of sunlight.

Thermostats placed in direct sunlight often provide false readings. When heated by direct sunlight, it will sense the room is warmer than reality, causing the air conditioner or heater to kick on when it is not needed. Called “ghost readings,” this inaccuracy wastes a lot of energy by cycling on and off unnecessarily, thus costing you more money.

Rule #2 | Don’t place on the inside of an exterior wall.

The only thermometer that is placed on an exterior wall is one that is meant to measure the outside air temperature. The problem with placement on an inside wall with the opposite side outdoors is there are a lot of little holes that create drafts. Those drafts measure the temperature on outside of house, not inside where it matters. Mount the thermostat on a central interior wall.

Rule #3 | Don’t place under or in the flow of a supply register.

The whole point of a thermostat is to accurately present the indoor temperature. When a thermostat is above or near an air vent, the temperature readings are skewed. Hit with incoming air when the heater is on, the thermostat senses the room is warmer than it is. If the air conditioner is running, the thermostat cools down before your home does. In both cases it is responding to inaccurate information.

Rule #4 | Do not place in or near the kitchen.

Heat is generated from cooking in this concentrated area. A thermostat placed in the kitchen often reads that the home is far warmer than it truly is, causing the air conditioner to turn on when you don’t need it. Because the stove or oven isn’t always in use and heating the area, it can confuse the thermostat and prevent it from getting an accurate reading.

Rule #5 | Do not place near windows and doors.

Doors and windows could be drafty. If the thermostat is nearby, it will sense the room being cooler than it actually is. With doors constantly opening and closing, a thermostat placed near a door is exposed to more outside air than the rest of the house, thus providing inaccurate readings and causing the system to cycle on and off without achieving your desired temperature.

Rule #6 | Do make sure the thermostat location is strategically determined.

It should not be tucked away in an isolated location such as a hallway. Place it as close to the living areas you are trying to control your comfort level in.

Other Considerations

Multi-Level Homes

Because warm air rises and cool air sinks, the top floor will be warmer than the bottom floor. Therefore, it is best to install the thermostat on a first-floor wall. That placement will more accurately find the average temperature.

Remote Sensors

Thermostats with a remote sensor option can adjust if the thermostat is in the wrong spot. But this option can be complicated. Discuss this option with an experienced contractor.

If the HVAC contractor you are getting an estimate from fails to consider the location of the new thermostat, call another contractor.



David Byrne of Green ID (Green Integrated Design) discusses the one part of your air conditioning system you likely never think about: the placement of your thermostat! Its critical for accurate temperature readings for the comfort you desire. He gives the rules of where and where not to place it, the proper height from the floor and a basic understanding of the returns, supply registers and compressor functions.


Green ID logoBy diagnosing air conditioning problems and home energy inefficiencies, Green ID helps homeowners create a more healthy, efficient, and comfortable living space. Because we are a small local business in the Valley, we offer personalized attention to every home we visit and we guarantee more attention to detail than what you would receive from a large corporation.

Photo Credits

  • Shutterstock


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