Cool Your Upstairs: 10 Ways To Keep It Cooler (under $450)


Cool hot rooms

With summer marking the hottest few months of the year, simply existing seems to be a sweaty process. And when you head upstairs or to the attic, the problem gets even worse.

However, your house shouldn’t have to stay a miserable hot zone all summer long. Keep reading to break down why the upstairs level has a heat problem and 10 ways to keep the upstairs cool in the summer.

Why is the upstairs always hotter?

Various factors contribute to why you seem to melt in the summer every time you climb the stairs.

Not only does heat rise, naturally making the upstairs area hotter, but most roofs absorb sun rays, bringing heat into the upper level of your home – and radiate it down from the attic into your room!

To make matters worse, outdated or unclean HVAC units harm efficiency and fail at regulating indoor temperatures.

Luckily, adding a few changes to your design and revamping your cleaning routine will cool down your upper levels considerably.

10 ways to keep the upstairs cool in the summer

To offer more specific solutions, here are 10 ways to keep the upstairs cool in the summer. You have to get rid of the heat and bring up cool air to make a difference. -Energy.GOV

1. Keep in mind that heat rises.

The first problem is hot air. Your HVAC unit typically resides on the first floor of your house. While this is useful for pumping cool air into your lower level, it’s not so great for your upper levels.

After all, the hot air has to escape somewhere. With your windows closed downstairs, the heat has nowhere to go but up and out.

While your living room cools down, rooms further away from the HVAC unit fall prone to a heat wave. To combat rising heat, opening the windows on your upper level is a good start but it’s important to prepare yourself with additional products and strategies.

2. Install a whole house fan.

While central air and heat systems cost thousands of dollars, a whole house fan offers a similarly effective but much cheaper option.

Whole house fans pull the pressure and heat from various rooms and send it to the attic, cooling your lower and upper levels. Unlike air conditioning systems, a whole house fan requires open windows downstairs to pull fresh, cool air in from outdoors.

The key to then getting the air to release from the attic is proper ventilation.

Have you seen these fans work? They are pretty cool since they can quickly suck all the air out of your 2nd floor and into the attic in a matter of seconds. Depending on the temperature, you may not even need to turn on the AC if you have a whole house fan installed.

3. Analyze ductwork, insulation and seals.

Next, it’s important to analyze your home’s internal layout and airflow to determine insulation needs for your ducts and address sealing issues.

Ducts. The main issue with ducts is they are typically made from metal, which means temperatures can be extremely different between the outside and inside of the duct.

Duct wrap. That’s where insulation steps in, offering a barrier to the blistering outside temperatures and protecting the cool air inside your ducts. This is especially important in ducts that run through walls that are not insulated.

Seal leaks. Leaks and holes also stop your ducts from producing proper airflow. Sealing any imperfections in your ducts is necessary to ensure the circulating air is as hot or as cold as you intended.

How do you find the leaks? A fun way of finding leaks in your AC ductwork is to light a candle and move it underneath the duct channel. As you move it along the ducts the candle flame will flicker if there is a leak. You can also use your hand to search for cold air. Once you find it, use a good HVAC mastic to seal up the hole.

4. Get a second small AC window unit.

In the summer, even nights are hot. For those with upstairs bedrooms that usually leads to a lack of sleep and plenty of tossing and turning.

While one large AC system usually cools multiple rooms on your first floor, investing in a second smaller AC window unit helps to target a specific room upstairs. They have come down in price over the years. You can find a good unit for under $200 online or at your local Walmart, Home Depot or your local hardware store.

5. Add airflow to the second floor.

Sometimes clogged vents are the culprit stopping cool air from reaching your upper floor. It’s important to dust off your vents regularly to ensure air flows evenly and dust doesn’t spread around your room.

Above, you also learned the importance of sealing your ducts. Without regular maintenance, you can lose around 20 percent of your airflow.

6. Change air handler filters.

Before air is released from your ducts, it passes through a filter to clean the air and improve the quality. By nature, the filter catches dirt, dust and other pollutants. This is great for your health but not so great for your filter. As they clog up over a few months and need to be cleaned or changed with new filters.

With permanent air filters, the tool pulls out from your system and can be cleaned outside. On the other hand, disposable filters require replacement with a fresh filter in the correct size.

7. Foil insulate the attic.

Insulating your attic with foil offers a radiant barrier to the uppermost part of your home. The reflective material bounces heat off of your walls instead of absorbing it.

To make the trick effective, it is important to face the foil upwards so the heat bounces away from your home. Also purchase foil that is moisture resistant to avoid mold.

The Department of Energy also warns that dust accumulation will dramatically reduce foil effectiveness.

8. Install attic ventilation fans.

If you are looking to cool your entire home with a fan, the whole house fan is more effective. However, if your aim is to relieve your attic of trapped heat, a ventilation fan is the way to go.

Fans are useful at reducing moisture and extending your home’s roof life. In addition, ventilation fans redistribute hot air in your attic, taking some of the work off your AC system and cutting utility costs.

9. Insulate with spray foam to avoid air leaks.

If extra moisture and nighttime critters are something you want to avoid in your attic, it is necessary to insulate with spray foam to avoid air leaks.

An overlooked spot where leaks lurk is the hatch door. When insulating, don’t forget to include this area.

10. Clean your ducts.

We recently had our ducts cleaned in our house and it has been a life changer. Allergies are gone and all my filters are still clean after 3 months.  Duct cleaning also improves the efficiency of the air handler unit.

This is the reason air conditioners feel more powerful when they are new but seem to fade in effectiveness over time. Repairing sealing issues will extend your unit’s lifespan and maintain its full range.

This task only needs to be done once about every three to five years.

It’s also worth it to clean out your ducts if you recently remodeled your home because leftover debris may still be lingering behind. Drywall dust and humans don’t mix!

How to keep heat from rising to the upstairs

Lastly, positive and negative ventilation tactics exist to keep heat from rising upstairs altogether.

To achieve negative ventilation, mounting fans to point out windows moves the hot downstairs air out of the house instead of allowing it to rise.

On the other hand, the concept behind positive ventilation is to raise the pressure in the upstairs area by closing upstairs windows and downstairs cooling vents. This neutralizes the air stopping it from rising.

Thankfully, after reading and employing the tips above you should have a sweat-free summer in all the rooms of your home.

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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