well, it's finally summer here in DC. Yay. House has no A/C. Yeah, I
know, but I loved the place and there's lots of trees for shade. Here's
the problem; it gets up over 90 degrees outside during the day. With
the windows closed and blinds drawn it gets up to about 80 in the
upstairs (rest of house is comfortable when I get home from work.) As
soon as the outside temp drops below the inside temp, I will open all
the upstairs windows and turn on the cheap floor fan that the PO's left
for me to try to blow some outside air through the house. It doesn't
seem to be working - outside temp will drop to 65 degrees or cooler
overnight but the bedroom will still be 75 degrees or so when I wake up
in the morning. I suspect if I could get the ambient temp. of the
upstairs down to the same temp as the outside and then shut everything
up when I left for work, it wouldn't even be as hot when I got home, but
I seem to be getting little or no cooling from having the windows open.
To those of you who also persist in living without A/C, what's the best
way to deal with this - get a bunch of window mount fans to try to set
up an artificial cross breeze, or would installing ceiling fans provide
enough circulation? (the girlie wants to do the latter anyway, and the
only reason I haven't done it yet is because I still need to get up in
the attic and install the heavier boxes and drop some 14/3 switch legs
to the wall boxes.)
I've also thought about tricking the furnace fan into running to
circulate cool air up from the basement, but I haven't really dug into
it that much yet. Would that be a worthwhile modification?
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
I have two $20 stand fans, one up and one down, and I'm just fine most days
here in NY. The trees are what does it, though. I don't even have to close
the windows during the day, the sun just can't get through. We have lots of
light but no direct sunshine. It's perfect.
Possibly further north than you, NY
Solution for me was the creation of ridge vents when I had the house
re-roofed. Controlling how much heat gain the under roof area achieved
made a world of difference.
Invest in a couple of very powerful window fans.
Not the $20 box fan, real window fans.
While you're in the attic, survey the insulation level.
If windows receive sun, do *something* to prevent that
heat getting in.
Insane. Previous owners got almost too jiggy with the insulation. I do
believe that the walls are uninsulated however, not a big deal up to the
2nd floor (all masonry) but probably ought to be insulated at some point
above that (sticks covered with asbestos shingle)
yeah, just put up heavy curtains in the bedroom in the SE corner, the
one in the SW corner has none as of yet (only used as an office/computer
room) all other rooms have blinds which are closed during the day
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
Heavy drapes don't prevent the sun from hitting the glass, which then
transfers the heat into the house via radiation. You need to block the sun
from hitting the windows via an outside blind or an awning.
Low-e glass stops a lot of that heat, like 90% of it.
I have the same problem as the OP, 'cept that trees aren't an option. My
front lawn is 10 feet from house to street, it faces south and the front of
the house gets direct sun for as long as the sun is above the horizon.
I did put in a ridge vent a month ago but I'm not sure it's going to work.
Well, it can't make it hotter!
Not from direct sun radiation. I have brand new, low-e windows (milguard)
and they do fair with blocking outside ambient temperatures. When the sun
hits the glass, not so much. Our retractable awnings are an absolute
Ah, awnings. They were on most every house when I was a kid, a long time
ago. Now we just stick a cooker box in the window and suck up electricity
instead. A decent tree can cool your house as much as a 12000 Btu AC and at
Agreed, we have trees, but the upstairs still gets hot. After reading
this thread and seeing that several people recommended window fans, I
thought "what the hell?" when someone says "window fan" I think of
those cheezy little plastic things. Well I did a web search and found
that there are *real* window fans made; I've already ordered a big Air
King unit, we will see what happens. I suspect that whoever suggested
that the attic is getting hot is correct, although there's a ludicrous
amount of insulation up there. If the window fan does not do the
trick, I will look into some kind of powered attic ventilation. My
house is odd; the roof does not overhang the exterior walls at all,
although there are large vents at the top of the exterior walls so one
of those would be a good place to put a thermostatically controlled
What you could do is get a wireless thermometer. Lowes had one for 15
dollars, but it seems to go through batteries pretty quickly.
Especially since I only use it one week every 26 or so, so I guess I
would remove the battery during the rest of the time. The lowes is
cheap and pretty, but for the same price you can get a big ugly one at
Harbor Freight, but it has a) min and max holds, that keep track of
current as well as min and max since the last time you reset it, and
b) has the current temp on the transmitter, not just the receiver.
First, you could calibrate a regulart themometer against the wireless,
and if they don't say the same thing, use a third as a tie-breaker,
then handicap the one that is off, if any.
Then without the fan on, measure the temp of your room near the
ceiling and at other heights closer to the floor. It is always hotter
near the ceiling of any room because hot air rises, but if the
difference is ?? just guessing, 6, 7 degrees more or less more than
at 4 feet high, too much heat is coming in through the attic.
Another thing one should do is go up when the attic is cool enough,
just at the start of dawn is when the attic is at its coolest, and
leave the transmitter there, and see how hot the attic gets as the day
goes on, and how hot it is at dawn. The min max would be nice for
And out of curiosily, you might even bury the transmitter at various
depths in the insulation, to see how much cooler the temp is 6 inches
down than on the surface.
Insulation is great, but if it is 140 or 150 in the attic, I can't
help; thinking it will still be 110 at the top of the ceiling
sheetrock, and 100 at the surface of the sheetrock in your bedroom
But I just got the wireless thermmoeter and haven't made any
measurements at all.
With my roof fan, I think it gets no higher than 100 or 110 up there,
even in the middle of the day, but even that is too hot for me to go
up and measure temps. At least I never did.
It's better to have the most data to work with, and also if you do
install a fan, or someone else who installs insulation, he'll know how
much improvement he gets. And can post here like an authority. :)
I have one of those remote deals built into an alarm clock - it's a neat
little gadget I picked up at Target. comes with a remote thermometer
and the clock has an atomic clock receiver built in. I might see if I
can get another remote to go with it, as I don't want to move the one I
have inside; I use it to determine when to open the upstairs windows.
I also have one of those point and shoot infrared thermometer deals; I
might have to retrieve that from my buddy's garage next time I make it
over there. Not much use in the attic, but I could shoot the ceiling in
the bedrooms to see how much heat is really coming down from above.
I suspect that the eventual solution will be a fan in the attic, but
that would involve probably having someone install it, which isn't about
to happen this year. I'm envisioning a fan set up at one of the vent
openings blowing out, controlled by a thermoswitch somewhere in the
middle of the attic to come on at some set point (100 degrees? 110
degrees? Something hotter than any normal ambient outside temperature,
anyway.) However your point to actually collect data before committing
to that course of action is well taken.
I realize it would be just as easy to install a window A/C unit in the
bedroom, but the brute force method offends my sensibilities as an
engineer. I'd rather try the more efficient solutions first...
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
Window fan does the trick for me on all but the most humid days. I
close up the house early in the morning and close/open pleated shades
throughout the day according to the sun's travel. It stays at least
10 degrees cooler than outside. Once the temperature drops outside so
that it's cooler out there, I open one upstairs window in an unused
bedroom, put in the window fan blowing out, and open the downstairs
windows. Shortly before bed, I close the downstairs windows and open
my upstairs bedroom windows. BTW, this is a cheap window fan, ~$20,
in a 1600+ sq ft house. I have a very hot attic but, like yours, a
lot of insulation. Lots of shade trees that keep the yard too dark to
garden, but none of them shade the house (great planning on the part
of whoever planted them, eh? Yes, the house is old enough that it's
been here longer than the trees.)
So, why not awnings? Better, maybe, retractable awnings.
If they worked back then, wouldn't they still at least *help* now?
Or maybe the beauty-police would deem them "ugly" and thus
"unacceptable" for *this* neighborhood?
The beauty police would write a ticket for awnings, and they're pretty much
unnecessary today with low-e thermopane glass. Awnings only keep the sun
out, they don't stop the heat from radiating through the glass, nor do they
stop the ultraviolet rays. Low-e thermopane glass does all of that, and in
the winter the low-e coating keeps your heat inside the house.
Even with top of the line Milguard low e, awnings are a big necessity when
the sun is on the window glass for hours at a time.
Low E only reduces the transfer of ambient outside heat, it is insufficient
at reducing the transfer of direct radiation when the sun hits the glass.
And awnings most certainly reduce ultraviolet rays as well as low e.
It HELPS to retain heat, but is not an absolute barrier. It certainly does
allow some heat to radiate out.
You need both awnings and low-e.
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