Keep the Upstairs of Your Air Conditioned Home Cooler
From Tips and Steps
Suffering in summer heat in the upstairs bedroom? Make the most of the air conditioning by following these steps.
Add attic insulation. Attics need R30 insulation at least to keep heat out in summer and heat indoors in winter. Save money in both seasons by insulating.
Make sure soffit vents are working and not blocked. A hot attic makes for a hot upstairs. Add a ridge vent or power vents if needed to bring down the attic temperature.
Fix windows. Leaking windows and single pane glass let cold out and heat in.
Close shades and drapes. Heat gets into the house from sunlight through the windows. Pulling down shades and drawing drapes helps block the sunlight. Light color opaque drapes and shades work best.
Replace furnace filters. Blocked filters prevent cold air circulation. Replace filters at least every three months.
Open upstairs registers and close downstairs registers. Opening upstairs cold air supply registers fully and all but closing downstairs air supply registers helps direct the cold air upstairs. Be careful not to fully close all downstairs air supply registers. Enough air must go through the air conditioner in order to work efficiently.
Move furniture from registers. Rearrange furniture so that air supply registers are fully uncovered. Also remove blockages from air returns in all rooms. This ensures that good air circulation occurs in the upper floor.
Use floor fans. Floor or ceiling fans help circulate air in a room. This helps prevent the cold air from settling near the floor of the upstairs rooms.
Get a pressure check. The air conditioner may leak small amounts of refrigerant over time. A heating and cooling contractor can check and refill the air conditioner, if needed, to maximize cooling.
Clean the outdoor unit. Rinse the outside unit with a garden hose ( gently ) to remove dirt from the coils. Remove leaves and debris from inside the fan area. The unit MUST be off to do this.
Add duct fans. If the air conditioner is big enough to cool the whole house then air circulation is most likely the trouble. Hot air rises and cold air sinks. By replacing the register covers with register/fan units more cold air is forced out of the upstairs ducts. These units can be purchased at large hardware stores or home-centers (US).
Call a professional. Many heating and cooling contractors will do a survey and make recommendations for a small fee. Always get more than one opinion and work with reputable professionals that have references. Check the Better Business Bureau (US) before working with anyone.
Cold air costs money. Expect to pay the combination of the winter heating and electricty bill in electricty alone in the summer for air conditioning.
Turn off the air conditioning when the outside temperature is less then the thermostat setting in the early mornings and late evenings.
Use a set-back thermostat to control the temperature if no one is home for part of the day or if the night time setting is different then the day time.
Do not clean the outside unit if there is any uncertainty about how to do this. Damage and/or injury can result. The unit must be turned OFF before removing leaves or debris. When rinsing the coils, NO water must enter the control box.