Use Basement Air To Cool Your Upstairs Rooms
It’s great to be able to use convection currents to naturally cool your upstairs rooms. Yes, air conditioning units (mini split air conditioners) are very effective but they’re relatively expensive to run, while this time-honored technique is as old as human civilization. You’re also doing your bit to conserve the earth’s resources and leave a slightly smaller carbon footprint. If we all did just one or two things with this in mind then it would have a truly global impact.
No, we’re not talking about the global pandemic, but the counterintuitive concept of closing all windows and doors throughout those hottest days, so as to keep in the cooler air that you may have allowed to filter in throughout the night. Even small inaccessible windows near the top of your house need to be firmly shut when you’re at work; curtains should be closed to prevent sunlight from warming up your house like a greenhouse. Having properly sealed windows will help, so ensure you use weather-stripping or caulk in order to ensure that there is only a 1°F per hour increase in temperature throughout the day, no more than that.
2. Open up
No, we’re not talking about the latest episode of Dr. Phil, but what you should do the minute you get in the front door after a hard day at work. Open certain doors and windows as quickly as possible, thus expelling as much stale air that’s been brewing in your home all day. Common sense might say that a cross breeze is what you need so windows should be opened across from each other. Wrong. What you ought to be doing is opening up only certain windows lower down in your house, then other particular windows higher up. This will force the airflow to take a more circuitous route and encourage something called a ‘chimney effect’. A breeze may enter at one point, but then corkscrew upwards until it can find a suitable vent somewhere higher up in the house. It’s worth trying different combinations until you get the right one for your house’s unique positioning the elements.
No, not a starry-eyed teen gazing up at a boyband star, but a fan of a mechanical nature. A window fan or box fan can greatly assist airflow, particularly if you adopt the ‘chimney effect’. If you’ve got a chimney effect going on already then a strategically placed box fan can help it along, assisting the evacuation of warmer air near the upper parts of your house. A window fan, likewise, can fulfill the same function. Ensure it is blowing with the airflow and not against it, so that that the natural venting process will get exponentially stronger over time.
4. Basement rules
If you don’t have a basement then this applies to the bottom of your house. If you do, then you should be aware that it is about 20°F cooler than the top of your house. Yes, that much! This is where being a fan of box fans can come in really handy. Open the door to the basement, place a box fan blowing away from the basement and you’ll be pumping up cooler air and contributing tremendously to the ‘chimney effect’. You might consider installing a mountable wall fan if you experience many months of fine, sunny weather.
5. Switch off
Technology, that is. Not only does it take up far too much of your time, but it’s heating up your house, too. Sitting with a laptop open, for instance, is warming up your legs and emitting hot air through its very function. Light bulbs, particularly halogen and incandescent, are sources of warmth and will do your ‘chimney effect’ not the least bit of good. You could replace them with LED or CFL bulbs since they emit less heat. Meanwhile, if you can possibly do more outside grilling rather than turning your kitchen into a literal oven, then you will be reducing the overall heat in your house. In short, seek to power down and chill out, especially at the height of summer.
6. A top-down approach
You can actively seek to channel some of that extra airflow to your own body in order to gain personal coolness when tossing and turning at night. A ceiling fan should help in this regard; if you don’t have one then a trusty box fan should do. It’s actually helping your skin to evaporate minuscule globules of sweat and will leave you feeling cooler even if the overall temperature of your house remains the same.
There are many other ways of staying cool upstairs, but here is a final one that is inexpensive and requires no mechanical assistance, particularly useful for those who are struggling to sleep. Place an ice pack inside your pillow. Yes, inside, between the pillowcase and pillow per se. The cooling effect will cool your head down, your head being one of the hottest parts of your body. This is great for getting you off to sleep, in order to get you to the optimum temperature for sleeping – somewhere between 60° and 67°F.