Should Air Vents be High or Low?

Whether the air vents in a home are high up in the ceiling or low and installed in the floor can matter. But, it ultimately comes down to heating and cooling needs plus personal preference. Here we’ll discuss how the supply and return vents work, pros and cons of each location, and whether their location really matters.

Air Supply Register and Return Grill Basics

How do supply and return vents work?

Supply air vents and the attached ductwork are responsible for bringing warm or cool air into your home from the HVAC unit. They’re the vents that if you stand in front of, you should feel air blowing out when the system is running.
Conversely, a return air vent sucks or pulls flat (used) air from the room back into the HVAC system to be reconditioned. These vents are usually larger than supply vents; if you place your hand in front of a return, you’ll feel suction from the ductwork.

Each room should have a supply and return vent

Both vents are needed for even heating and cooling, and equalized indoor air pressure. As the conditioned air enters the room from the supply vent, it flows around toward the return vent. Remember, the return has constant suction when the HVAC system is running.
Some homes don’t have a return in each room, instead relying on a gap at the bottom of the door to allow air to find its way out to a return. If a room doesn’t have one, consider having one installed rather than hoping enough air is flowing out under the door. If you’re building or remodeling a home, ensure the supply vents are installed on outer walls underneath windows. The returns should be on the opposite interior wall. Otherwise, if the supply and return are too close, the air won’t properly circulate and you’ll notice a temperature difference in the room. And, uneven air pressure causes the HVAC system to work harder to deliver the predetermined amount of air, increasing energy consumption and costs.

Floor Vent Pros

The biggest pro to having floor vents is more efficient heating since heat naturally rises. Others include:
  • Easy to hide: Professional installers know how to make sure the vent and vent cover, such as an air supply register, is sunk in the floor so it appears flush.
  • Possible higher ceiling: If a room or the entire home has flat ceilings, floor vents usually don’t take up the headspace you and others may want.

Floor Vent Cons

  • Easy to accidentally block: Curtains, drapes, rugs, and furniture are all guilty of accidentally blocking the air flow from a floor vent. And if the vent is small enough, you may not notice for a few days until the temperature difference becomes apparent.
  • Dust collection: Dust, dirt, hair, fur, and other debris commonly collect on and in floor vents. When the HVAC turns on, these allergens are blown from the vent and back into the air.

Ceiling Vent Pros

Otherwise, ceiling vents are more efficient at delivering cool air to a room or home since cool air naturally sinks. Other pros include:
  • Limited opportunities to block: You’d need a very tall bookcase or indoor plant to block the air flow from most ceiling vents.
  • Close to ductwork: Attic space is often a great location for the majority of ductwork required for ceiling vents.

Ceiling Vent Cons

  • Ductwork exposed to extreme temperatures: Attics are usually poorly insulated, which means the extreme temperature range the area goes through subjects the ductwork to more energy loss than other areas.
  • More powerful motor and blower needed for heating: Your HVAC system will need a powerful motor and blower fan to deliver warm air from the ceiling vents into the home. Otherwise, the warm air exits the vent then rises again, keeping the heat close to the ceiling and away from the living spaces.

It all depends on your personal needs

Although there are recommendations for air vent placement, sometimes personal preference and need supersedes them. Some homeowners use the HVAC system almost year round for a variety of reasons, while others turn it on long enough to take the edge off the indoor temperature. You can, however, improve the air circulation by following these tips.
  • Replace the air filter every two to three months: The air filter catches allergens and other particulate matter from entering the HVAC system, while providing enough airflow to keep the system running.
  • Schedule regular HVAC tune-ups: These tune-ups are the best way to ensure the air circulation in your home is balanced while the HVAC unit runs as efficiently as possible.
Take into consideration your personal heating and cooling preferences before joining team high air vents or team low vents. Call Moore Home Services today with any questions you have.