Heat Rises: Keep Your Top Floor Cool This Summer

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As summer heats up, you might notice a temperature variance between your home’s lower and upper floors. Instead of resigning yourself to this, you can take simple steps to make the whole house more comfortable.

Let’s look at a few ways to keep every floor in your home cool in the summer to save energy costs.

15 Tips for Keeping Every Floor of Your Home Cool in the Summer

Keeping an entire home comfortable can be a challenge in the summer, especially if you have an upstairs. Here are a few tips to combat the heat on every level of your home.

1. Provide Proper Ventilation

Ensure all your vents are fully open and the return air supply isn’t blocked.

A common idea that floats around is that if you close vents in unused rooms, more air will flow into the rooms you want to cool down. This sounds like a good idea, but in reality, there is a maximum capacity in each duct pipe, and creating dead ends with no escape can sometimes cause high pressure and stress on ducts with closed vents.

This extra force cause leaks in the ductwork and creates more problems later. If your airflow is low in the first place, this strategy might work, but if your airflow is low, that indicates a blockage or something wrong with your AC. Let the air flow out and keep vents open.

woman closing curtains at window

2. Block Heat Gain from Windows

Windows are a significant source of solar heat gain. Window treatments reduce this by over half, keeping your home cooler. Use window blinds, solar curtains, insulated cellular shades, or a combination to keep the heat out from the interior. Install awnings, sunscreens, window film, or shutters on the outside. Choose light colors to better reflect the sun away from your home.

3. Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans create a breeze, making you feel cooler because the air flowing over your skin picks up heat and distributes it through the house.

With ceiling fans running, you can resist lowering the thermostat setting and spare an air conditioner from running so much. You will feel cooler and save energy at the same time. Ceiling fans on your top floor will also help cycle air around the house.

Set your fans to run counterclockwise to push air down and create a cooling effect. Use clockwise in the winter. Depending on your fan model, the fan blade direction can be switched with a remote, small switch, or pull cord on the fan base.

Make sure to choose the right fan size for each room and have it professionally installed. Our technicians can perform your ceiling fan installation in the Greater Cincinnati area.

4. Turn Off Heat-Producing Electronics and Lights

Televisions and computers may not seem to produce much heat, but every bit counts, especially in small, enclosed areas. Keep them turned off and unplugged unless you are using them. Try to run your washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher at night since they give off heat.

Light bulbs also produce heat. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are some of the worst offenders, so keep these turned off as much as possible and buy compact fluorescent or LED bulbs as soon as you can. We have you covered if you need new light fixtures that can accommodate energy-efficient bulbs.

man in red uniform lays insulation in attic

5. Insulate and Vent the Attic

When the attic temperature rises, this heat radiates into the home through the ceiling and walls. You will feel the effects of this the most in the upper levels of your home.

Have your attic checked to make sure the insulation and ventilation are both adequate. If attic heat continues to be a problem, consider installing an attic fan to vent the heat outdoors.

6. Turn the Thermostat Fan On

On your thermostat, there are two settings for the fan: ‘on’ and ‘auto.’ The auto setting only runs the fan when the air conditioner is on to cool the home. If you flip the switch to ‘on,’ the fan runs continuously, whether the air conditioner is on or not. This helps circulate air throughout the house, cooling rooms that get hotter with the rising heat.

7. Seal Your Home

For even basic energy efficiency, it’s crucial that you eliminate as much air leakage from your home as possible. Energy.gov has some tips and tricks for identifying air leaks. Look for gaps between where materials change—doors frames, window frames, outdoor faucets, or any other place where two materials meet.

Check your weather stripping on your windows, doors, and garage doors. This stripping prevents air movement and helps keep your house airtight. The less cool air leaking out or hot air leaking in, the more energy efficient your home will be.

8. Have Your Ductwork Inspected

Inspect your ductwork and check for leaks, breaks, or clogs. We can check and clean your ductwork to ensure you aren’t losing valuable, cool air to the ether. In some homes, adding a new duct line may be necessary to get enough cool air to a room that consistently overheats in summer.

9. Dehumidify the House

Humidity makes the heat feel much worse than it is based on temperature alone. One way to fight the heat is to pull excess moisture out of the air. Consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier. A comfortable humidity level for humans is between 30 to 55 percent. Anything higher than that makes breathing more challenging and clothes and skin feel stickier.

english ivy plant in wooden frame on table

10. Invest in Cooling Plants

Certain plants will absorb moisture and suck humidity out of the air if you aren’t ready for a whole-home dehumidifier. They won’t work nearly as efficiently as a dehumidifier, but they are better than nothing! Consider plants like Tillandsia and English Ivy.

11. Break Out The Paint

Another way to cool down your house is lighter colors. This can be accomplished by using lighter-colored siding and roofing tiles or by painting them lighter colors. There are a number of cooling roof paints on the market that will either be lighter in color or reflective to reflect the sun away from your home.

12. Swap Out Bedding for Lighter Fabrics

Swap out heavier fabric bed sheets like flannel out for lighter-weight sheets like cotton or linen. Cooler sheets can help you sleep during those hot summer nights. Find sheets to help funnel heat away from your body to keep you cool at night.

house with shade trees

13. Plant Shade Trees

It takes time, but planting trees, shrubs, or even ivy can help absorb heat and keep it away from your house. Plants will soak up the sun’s rays and transform that heat into energy, which is a much better use for it than having it heat your home into an uncomfortable space.

14. Cooking Appliances

Cooking can create a lot of heat in your house. Do your very best to avoid using your oven or stove. The more you can minimize heat, the cooler your home will be. If you need an oven, can it fit in your toaster oven? Is it worth putting your toaster oven in the garage or outside while it cooks?

Any cooking done outside, like on the grill, is heat that doesn’t stay in the house. Some folks even buy portable induction stovetops to cook outdoors–they are also handy if you need to cook something messy or oily.

Try using appliances that produce less wasted heat, like air fryers, microwaves, and pressure cookers. Air fryers and pressure cookers have significantly less wasted heat than ovens. Their smaller size means they cannot heat an entire room. Microwave ovens heat foot directly and don’t heat the air inside, only the water molecules.

15. Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance with Apollo

One of the easiest things you can do is schedule air conditioning maintenance to ensure that your air conditioning unit operates in peak condition, has proper airflow, and has replaced the air filter. Blocked vents or dirty air filters can significantly inhibit the cooling of your top floor.

For help keeping your home cool in the summer, please contact us at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing.

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