We all experience the hottest months of summer at different times of the year in different countries. Those of you with multi-floor dwellings are likely to have problems cooling upstairs rooms no matter what part of the planet you reside.
This article focuses on tips and tricks you can use during the hotter months to help keep those upper rooms at a cooler, more comfortable temperature. We will discuss tips related to air conditioning, fans, windows, cross breezes and more.
Blocking Solar Heat
Yes, we all realize that a huge fire ball in the sky can make things hot when it is focused on your part of the earth. So, our first tip for cooling upstairs rooms involves blocking out the sun’s rays.
Particular attention should be paid to keeping out sunlight on the sides of the house that face the sun for extended periods of time.
Is there is enough sunlight coming in your windows to light a room? If so, then there is also enough sunlight to heat that room as well.
Some homes are equipped with shutters fixed to the outsides of the windows that can be closed to block out the sun. Shutters do their job well, but most homes do not have them unfortunately.
The next best thing is thick multi-layered curtains on the inside of the windows. The curtains need to be thick enough to make a room dark in order to keep it cool.
If the sun shines right through your existing curtains, then they are not doing much to keep out the afternoon heat.
Long thick curtains can be hung over your existing light weight curtains to keep out the heat on hot days. You can then efficiently control the temperature of a room by drawing the curtains at the right time of the day.
Long curtains are better because even a small patch of sunlight escaping under the curtain and hitting the floor can heat the inside of the room considerably.
Use Air Conditioning Correctly
Air conditioners are perhaps the most effective way to keep an upstairs room cool. Central air systems that cool the entire home are particularly effective because they keep heat from downstairs from rising upstairs.
Unfortunately we are not all blessed with central air conditioning and many of us do not want to pay the high cooling bills they create.
Many times, a room air conditioner in an upstairs room that you spend a lot of time in will do a good job.
One of the most important tips for room air conditioners is to purchase one that is the right size for your room. If you get one that is too small to cool your room, it will run constantly during the summer and cost more money while being less effective.
A properly sized window unit air conditioner should keep a room cool without running all the time. Also check to be sure that the air is fairly cold coming out. If it is not, your air conditioner could need to be charged, cleaned or both.
You should check your air conditioner owner’s manual to learn how to clean the filters yourself to keep the unit working properly.
If a room is extremely warm when you first turn the air conditioner on, you should open a window for the first several minutes to help the warm air escape the hot room. You should never run the air conditioner for more than about ten minutes with the window open. After ten minutes, you are just wasting energy.
Using and Maintaining your Home’s Windows
Most of the attention to how well a window is sealed and leak free is paid in the cold months. But, a leaky window will cause your home to become excessively hot in the summer just as it can cause it to become cold in the winter. This is especially true if you are using an air conditioner.
Air conditioned rooms need to be sealed tight. An air conditioner works by expelling warm air from the room. If your windows are not sealed tight, the warm air will come right back in the room.
Even non-air-conditioned homes are affected by leaky windows in the summer. It is important to keep a room sealed tight during the hotter part of the day to keep out the heat.
Also, when the home becomes heated from the sun beating on it all day, it becomes necessary to open windows to allow the heat to escape.
An indoor-outdoor thermometer can be used to determine whether it is hotter inside or outside of the home. The sun also needs to be taken into account when deciding whether to open or close a window.
Sometimes it can be best to keep a window closed and curtains drawn, even if it is slightly cooler outside. This can be the case when the sun is shining on a particular window. It is often best to open windows on one side of a home while leaving the ones on the side with the sun shut.
Another important thing to consider when managing the windows in your home during the summer is cross breezes. A good cross breeze from a window on one side of a room to a window on the other side can keep a room much cooler than if you only have one window open.
Cross breezes need to be considered throughout the house, not just from room to room.
Often the best way to create a good cross breeze in a non-air-conditioned home is to use a large window fan in a downstairs window while keeping the upstairs windows open so that the air is drawn throughout the entire home.
It is important to remember to allow the air to flow through the house when using a window fan. Do not block the air from flowing from room to room by shutting doors. You need to keep most of the room to room doors open when creating a cross breeze through the entire house.
If you practice these techniques this summer, you will figure out a routine that works best for your home. Normally shutting the windows in the late morning and keeping them shut with curtains drawn throughout the hotter part of the day is best.
Then as evening approaches, you can open some windows and create a cross breeze to keep your house cool throughout the night.
The method you use to keep your upstairs rooms cool in the summer will depend on your individual home and climate. If you use these tips, you will be able to quickly figure out a daily routine for your home that helps keep those hot upstairs rooms bearable. You will also save money if you learn to use the right combination of opening and closing both windows and drapes while only running the air conditioning when absolutely necessary.
If you manage your home properly, you will find that you don’t need to run the air conditioner all day long in the hot months. Good luck keeping your upstairs rooms cool this summer and keep those energy bills as low as possible with good home economics.
Photo by Ville Miettinen, Creative Commons Attribution License