Help Me Improve Our Hot Upstairs (in Summer!)
During the summer, many homes contain much warmer temperatures upstairs than downstairs. A closer look at why some homes possess higher temperatures helps homeowners better resolve this irritating comfort problem.
Homes with warmer and uncomfortable upstairs in summer remain very common. For example, many homes contain too little insulation. Or, homes contain high rates of air exchange. Plus, these homes contain excessive heat gains through windows. Or, drastically undersized duct systems serving the second floor. Finally, homes with a hot upstairs often contain significant duct leaks in their air delivery system.
Focus on Reducing Heat Gain to Improve Hot Upstairs
To improve comfort on the second floor, a simple solution exists. However, the solution remains more difficult to accomplish. First, homeowners must identify and minimize as much heat gain upstairs as possible. To accomplish this, locate existing air leaks through holes, cracks and gaps. Next, air seal the leaks. Additionally, examine attic insulation levels. Ultimately, reduce the heat gain through windows and analyze duct sizing and duct leakage rates from air conditioning.
In addition, homeowners must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of using radiant barriers, non-traditional attic ventilation strategies and shading devices. Deciding the best way to reduce heat gains to the upper floors of homes is extremely challenging for an average home. However, it remains even more difficult for homes with multiple attics, kneewalls or cathedral ceilings on the 2nd floor.
Then, and only when some of the strategies above have been implemented, should homeowners should look to increase the cooling supply to the second floor as efficiently as possible. This can be accomplished through the use of innovative HVAC strategies such as ductless split systems, zoning ductwork or re-sized duct supplies and returns. Once again, adding cooling capacity sounds simple, but it remains complicated depending on the specific construction details of your home.