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

Cool hot rooms

-Updated 2/22/2022

With summer marking the hottest few months of the year, simply existing seems to be a sweaty mess. And when you head upstairs or to the attic, many houses are hot and uncomfortable.

We show you how to quickly cool your upstairs and keep it cooler & comfortable. 10 ways to keep the upstairs cool in the summer and hot days.

So, what are the best ways to cool your upstairs? The best ways are to cool off the upstairs are:

  1. Open Windows.
  2. Install A Whole House Fan
  3. Seal ductwork, improve air flow and temperature
  4. Window A/C unit or
  5. Portable A/C system to the 2nd floor
  6. Change air filters
  7. Foil Insulate Attic
  8. Install Attic Fans
  9. Insulate With Spray Foam Any Air leaks
  10. Clean You Ducts

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To make matters worse, outdated or unclean HVAC units harm efficiency and fail at regulating indoor temperatures.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

Pro Tip: Use a hybrid approach to cooling down the upstairs. Eliminate the humidity and lower the temperature. This will make your upstairs a comfortable 68-75 degrees depending on your house.

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. Open Windows.

The first problem is hot air since heat rises. 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 and Optimize Fan Setting.

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. Seal Ductwork, Improve Air Flow and Temperature

Next, it’s important to analyze your home’s internal layout and airflow to determine insulation needs for your ducts and address sealing issues. This will help make your HVAC system efficient and have lower energy costs.

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. Window A/C unit

In the summer heat, 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, it rarely does an adequate job for the second floor. This is more true in houses that do not have a zoned system to target hotter rooms exposed to the sun’s heat.

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. Portable A/C System To The 2nd Floor

Portable A/C Units are great for cooling several rooms if you can vent them outside.

We had a similar unit in our 1200 Sq Ft apartment and it helped cool it down dramatically.

6. Change Air 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.

If you have pets your air filter should be checked at least monthly. Many only last a few weeks. Homeowners in older homes should check to see if they have dirty air filter often as well.

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 Attic

Insulating your attic with foil offers a radiant barrier to the uppermost part of your home. This is one of the different methods you can use to insulate the attic.

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 Fans

If you are looking to cool your entire home with a fan, the whole house fan is more effective than smaller fans since it is larger and moves larger amounts of air, faster. It can remove much heat on a hot summer day.

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.

They help solve several of these problems:

  • Different temperatures as hot air rises.
  • Makes upstairs rooms more comfortable temperature.
  • Lower your utility bills.
  • Circulates cooler air throught the entire house
  • Lowers stress on your hvac system (cooling system).

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.

10. Clean Your Ducts.

We recently had our ducts cleaned in our house and it has been a life changer.

You Could Have SEVERAL GARBAGE BAGS WORTH OF DUST clogging up your vent pipes if you have never had them cleaned. Many older houses have never been cleaned.

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.

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 25 percent of your airflow.

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.


What Are Other Quick Ways To Cool Down The Upstairs and Make It Comfortable?


A dehumidifier is one of the best ways to quickly cool down your upstairs by eliminating humidity from the air, which makes you feel hot and uncomfortable in the Summer time. When you remove the humidity from air that is already hot you make it more comfortable and one less thing to fix.

Keep the humidity under 50% for best results. Over 50-60%, in a hot house already and it will feel unbearable and really uncomfortable.

Window film.

Add heat reflective film to the upstairs windows to minimize solar heat into the second floor.

How Do You Install Heat Reflective Film To Cool Upstair Windows?

  1. Select the heat reflective film.
    • Heat Control Platinum can be found on Amazon. It blocks 99% of the UV rays and 71% of the total light energy.
    • Darkened finish film
  2. Installation kit.
  3. Clean the glass. Twice. Use a good cleaner like windex so you can make sure the window is clean. Clean it a second time to make sure it is perfect. Any dirt or debris left on the window will impact the look of the film – possibly causing air bubbles.
  4. Wear gloves so you don’t leave fingerprints.
  5. Measure & cut. Unroll the film so it covers the entire area and leave an extra 1″ that you can cut off once finished.
  6. Remove the backing slowly.
  7. Spray the window with the solution so it is wet.
  8. Top down. Make sure the film stays level as you place it on the glass, working your way down.
  9. Continue to spray the film.
  10. Push bubbles out with the squeegee. Start in the center and push the bubbles to the left. Then again in the center and to the right.
  11. Trim the excess

How To Cool Upstairs Bedroom?

Sometimes homeowners or renters may want to cool 1 upstairs bedroom instead of the whole upstairs level. Here is the best way.

  1. Open Windows
  2. Ceiling fan or room fan
  3. Heat resistent window film. See the installation steps above.
  4. Optimize air duct efficency, air flow
  5. Close any air gaps
  6. Use a portable AC unit if it is really hot
  7. Use dehumidifier to make the upstairs bedroom much more comfortable.

How To Cool Upstairs Apartment?

Sometimes homeowners or renters may want to cool upstairs apartment instead of the whole house.

Here is the best way.

The A/C unit for the whole house is most likely in the basement so it will likely be hard to make many changes to the air flow.

You may have to talk with the homeowner about getting you more air…in which they may say for you to buy a supplemental A/C unit. This is often the case.

  1. Open Windows
  2. Ceiling fan or room fan
  3. Heat resistent window film.
  4. Use a portable AC unit if it is really hot
  5. Use dehumidifier to make the upstairs bedroom much more comfortable.

How To Keep Upstairs Cool?

  1. Do a whole house energy audit to know where your pain points are and address them first. This will impact the cooling for the upstairs.
  2. Improve attic insulation and ventillation. If the attic gets too hot it will increase the temperature of the floor below it which is your upstairs.
  3. Plant a tree. Within a few years your house will stay much cooler with the shade from the tree.
  4. Keep heat out.
  5. Lower humidity.
  6. Keep the air flowing so temperatures don’t rise.

7 Proven Ways To Cool Down Your Hot Front Door & Lower A/C Bill NOW!

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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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