Author Topic: Cooling off the house  (Read 2392 times)


  • Stubble
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Cooling off the house
« on: May 03, 2018, 04:20:16 AM »
I live in a 2 story Dutch gambrel build in 1920.  Much of the house is insulated.  Did a good job for year air sealing it over the years.

On warm days, it always gets hotter on the second floor.  It's often tough to sleep without running the AC.  I understand that the sun is bearing down on it and heat rises.

Besides closing curtains during the day, opening windows at night, and running the AC (or fans), do you have another way to cut down on the heat that the second floor experiences?



  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 07:11:54 AM »
  • closing curtains & during the day: check
  • opening windows at night: check
so far good thinking.
the potentially reality-detached and dreaming engineer/ janiter has some ideas:
1) reduce incoming heat:
think of sun shields on the roof, create shadow on the roof, but make it rain/storm/heat proof. anything from flexible aluminum shilds for car windows to fixed metal plates. might look ugly...
window shutters outside are much more effective than courtains.
small awnings on the house walls and above windows might help
2) increase heat removal:
wet your house roof or walls. consumes water though, and thus $$. however, a kWh of evaporation-dissipated heat might be cheaper than the equivalent A/C power consumtion. Think of installing a gardening sprinkler hose on the roof.
3) outsmart the heat:
move your bedroom downstairs (basement?)
4) increase thermal inertia of the house:
a large mass (water tank; stone construction) inside can be cooled at night and act as heat sink during the day.

Lady SA

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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 07:58:26 AM »
do you have your upper floor windows open/cracked during the day to release the heated air?

I would do a combination of things, if feasible. Large shady overhangs and then allowing the upper floor heated air to escape. As the hotter air rises, it will want to continue to rise, so a few of your top-most windows cracked can help move air through. Lots of houses down in the south have this passive air cooling tower/cupola at the highest point of the home and then allows the hottest air to vent out instead of being trapped in the house.

I would also strive to prevent hot air from building up in the house in the first place, but you are doing a lot on that front already by closing curtains and such. We get pretty sweltering, humid summers, but a combination of opening all the windows at night, then shutting them first thing in the morning before it heats up and closing the curtains keeps the cooler air in, and then we leave for work to prevent warming the house with our body heat. As we are gone most of the day, we usually come back to a relatively cool house that didn't increase much in temperature. We live on the top floor of a small building, so we are perpetually in the hottest part of the home :)
But if we are around to warm up the space with body heat, then we usually close the blinds but crack all of the windows, and run both a ceiling fan and a box window fan to circulate the air around and out as much as possible.

Altons Bobs

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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 12:08:34 PM »
We lived in a 2-story house before, we put up window screens on the west/south facing windows. Not sure if they're called window screens or something else, they're like a film that you apply onto your window, they block the sun. And then window screen mesh on the outside. We also planted trees that would shade the house, took a few years for them to grow big enough to shade the house though. And of course ceiling fan. And we added more insulation in the attic above as well.

NV Teacher

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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 01:15:54 PM »
If you have an attic you might consider an attic fan that blows the hot air out of the attic through the vents during the day.


  • Stubble
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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 09:05:47 PM »
Whole house fan.

Cheap and loud, our expensive and quiet.

If it cools off enough at night open couple windows downstairs, it will pull the air upstairs and push all the hot air that is trapped in the attic out.

Do same thing in morning.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2018, 05:08:51 AM »
Those rectangular window fans (on sale at Aldi last week for $25) really do help, especially if you are in a place where it cools off at night.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2018, 06:47:43 AM »
I put up light blocking curtains (totally light blocking, from Pottery Barn...on big sale of course) on the south side when a new streetlight was installed behind my house.  I immediately noticed that my house stayed much cooler if I left them closed all day. If your current curtains are not light blocking, try those.  You can also buy inexpensive light blocking fabric online and just hang it over a curtain as well but obviously doesn't look great.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Cooling off the house
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2018, 06:59:02 AM »
Second the thermostatically controlled attic fan or manual whole house fan, especially if you are in an area with low or modest humidity in the evenings. It's amazing what an attic fan (or lack thereof) can do.