Q. Dear Umbra,

Say you have two houses with the same square footage, but one is all on one level and one is three floors. Which one is more energy-efficient by structure? Or are they the same?

Eve A.
Seattle, Wash.

A. Dearest Eve,

I have always had an affinity for multi-story houses. Where better than the second (or third) floor to receive declarations of love a la Juliet, imprison one’s enemies a la Saruman, receive more declarations of love a la Rapunzel, or enjoy winter’s finest recreational activities indoors a la that kid in Home Alone? So I’m pleased to inform you that the number of stories in a home does indeed matter, environmentally speaking — and that the multi-story abode will almost always beat out the sprawling ranch. Three cheers for stairs!