It is 54 degrees outside. Inside my home it is 80 degrees. At night, as the outdoors gets cooler, the inside of my home continues to get warmer, at least with the windows closed. It's a relatively safe neighborhood, but not safe enough to leave a downstairs window open. Opening upstairs windows alone hardly makes a dent in the temperature.

Most of the heat comes from thermal mass I presume, meaning the walls and floors and ceilings store the heat from the day and release it all night, much to my sleeping displeasure. I can't sleep at temperatures above 75 degrees. We have some electronics plugged in, but not too much in that department.

As I walk the dog at 5:30 am, many of the neighbors have their windows closed and the air conditioning running. I reiterate that it is 54 degrees outside.

All of the homes in this development were built about five years ago. I'm sure they meet or exceed all the codes for energy use. And yet many of us are running our air conditioning when it is 54 degrees outside.

All we need to solve this problem is a downstairs window that has both a screen (for bugs) and jail bars (for intruders). The trick is to make the jail bars not look like jail bars, so there is some chance the homeowners association would allow them. The jail bars need not be grey vertical bars. They could be a design that adds a cool and funky look to your portal. For example, the barrier against intruders could be a peace sign, or a happy face, or a pine tree, whatever. And it could be whatever color works with your house.

Obviously this sort of solution is only useful in places and seasons where it is hot during the day and cool at night. But that is a lot of places.

Ideally that window, and a few upstairs, would be motorized and on a remote, so you can close them without getting out of bed if it gets too cold inside.

But my real question is this: If it is colder outside than inside, is there any reason you shouldn't run the air conditioning with your upstairs windows open?
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Sep 29, 2008
In my house, we have screens that are alarmed. The screens have wires running through them such that if they are cut, the alarm goes off. Additionally, they have 2 randomly placed magnets along the edges. If the screen is pulled out, the alarm goes off.
Sep 23, 2008
Sleep outside the house in the night, with your air conditioner ON in your room.
Go back to the now cool room in the day, and enjoy always a pleasant weather :)
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Sep 16, 2008
Do you have an attic / whole house fan? Even at a very low speed and with only a few windows open they do a remarkable job of changing the air in the house X-times per hour. As long as your attic itself is adequately venitlated they are quite easy to retrofit into an upstairs hallway ceiling.
Sep 16, 2008
Move to a place where you can feel safe about opening windows. I've not locked my car or my house in 12 years of easy living here in a small mid-western city. I have a huge TV, AV components, and 7 computers in the house and I have no fear that anyone is after my stuff. I may get robbed blind someday, but I doubt it. I have an attic fan to like many commenters that is running right now !$%*!$% in all the glorious cool air from outside. But that's not the point... you don't feel comfortable leaving the windows open, so this type of device would'nt work. I can't imagine living in fear all time... I say move.
Sep 15, 2008

Must have an equivalent product available in the US
Sep 15, 2008
But will it work in Elbonia? All the mud would clog the window.

Sep 15, 2008
I forgot to add...I live in the Seattle area. Although it has been hotter than normal this week, we are usually in the mid 60s to 70s. Last week at night it was in the 50s. Our neighbor's air conditioning runs day and night. And they have a basement which is very cool! I don't know what is going on over there. Maybe they are trying to keep bodies from decomposing or something.
Sep 15, 2008
Scott, like others have said, install some skylights that open. They will suck the hot air right out of your house. You can open your lower floor windows an inch or so and put in a bar or something that won't let anyone else open the window from the outside.
Also - the attic fan is a must. We have one that starts up when the temp hits a certain degree. Also, we have a an access panel in our master closet to get to the attic. I made a screen the size of the panel and install that in the summer so much more air gets sucked through the house. You can definitely feel the current when that is in place.
Sep 15, 2008
That's fine, but an attic fan would be cheaper and more efficient.
Sep 15, 2008
You could just put some vents for air, so that the air could enter the house without having to open the windows.
That way you solved the burglars problem, and without visible in-esthetics.
You could also put some remote controls for controlling the vents opening from wherever you were.
Still, you could lose at least some of the energy-saving capabilities of the house…
Sep 14, 2008
We have a product hear in australia called crimsafe. Basically looks like an insect screen, but made out of steel weave that can't be breached. Very subtle/unobtrusive and very secure.....
Sep 14, 2008
I had wondered about this: Since I already have big blowers for the central air/heat in the attic, I had wondered about adding a gate and a duct into the attic, so they'd act like a whole-house fan if I switched it. That is, instead of pushing air out through the ducts into the house, dump it into the attic. Obviously, I'd only do this with windows open, and on fan-only mode, and when I really needed heat or A/C I'd switch the gate back so that the air was going through the vents. Anyone tried this?
Sep 14, 2008
This is actually the ONE situation where our otherwise hateful style of house, a "raised ranch," comes in handy. Windows downstairs, in the lower level, are locked. It stays pretty cool down there in summer, in the TV room, laundry room, office and arts and craft zone, because it's half underground. Windows upstairs, in the main living and sleeping areas, can be opened without fear of burglars - unless they were to have pogo sticks strapped on their legs. Also we live in New Hampshire, where the crime rate is unusually low, probably because of Winter.
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Sep 14, 2008
To answer your question, under the conditions you describe, you may be better off running the AC with the windows open.

Of course, NoCal has weenie weather. Here in Florida you have to close the windows and run the AC just to cut down the humidity so you don't wake up with mushrooms growing out of your ears. Not to mention the flying teeth we call "no-see-ums" that fly right through screens, or the occasional tropical storm that can soak and then rearrange your furniture. We also have the demon garbage truck from hell that roars by at 5 AM.

However, as others have pointed out, there has to be a better way. After all, if the average air temperature across the 24 hour day is about 70 degrees, where does all the residual heat come from? And, if your entire family comprises about 10 cubic feet of meat, is it really necessary to cool or heat 30,000 cubic feet of house to the same temperature all the time?

There are lots of ways to conserve energy in buildings without compromising comfort. These are the real low-hanging fruit in the whole energy challenge.
Sep 14, 2008
A well insulated modern house will hold heat very well and although opening a window or using an attic fan seems like a perfect solution, there are a few problems with this method.

Yes, hot air rises, but your house is not just one open room - there are cool areas and hot areas. The attic fan will draw air masses together and slowly equalize the temperature of the house - you will also warm cool areas. I would recommend sleeping in an area that is cooler like the basement, if you have one.

Sep 13, 2008
I live in Texas, where we know from heat. We have a whole-house fan, and it works great. Under the conditions you describe, we could open windows downstairs and upstairs, run the whole-house fan, and have a houseful of 54-degree air in a half-hour.
Sep 13, 2008
I live in Texas, where we know from heat. Our house has a whole-house fan, and it works great. Under the conditions you describe, we could open windows downstairs and upstairs, run the fan, and have a houseful of 54-degree air in a half-hour.
Sep 13, 2008
First of all, just opening your windows won't necessarily convince the nice cool air on the outside of your house that it should mingle with the harsh hot air inside your house. The cool air needs some persuasion.

High and low pressure areas to move the wind around are notoriously unreliable. Attic fans will do the trick, but they need to pull air into the house from the outside, and that is normally done with an open ground-floor window, so you still have a problem. (I've turned on my attic fan without opening any windows first, and it sucked air in through the vent of my hot water heater, extinguishing the pilot light).

I lived in a house where my central air had a 'fan only' mode. A lot of air in the house is recycled, but there is also an air intake outside the house so cool/cold air is slowly mixed in with the rest. This still uses energy, but is better than running the A/C.
Sep 13, 2008
I live down the road near Concord, in a ranch home. We open most of the windows when it gets below 80 in the Summer (our AC is set to 80), and it quickly cools the house down. At bedtime, we close a lot of them that are easy to get into, but it gets pretty cool by morning. If we're home during the day, we leave the windows open until it gets warmer outside than inside. Lately, we don't even need the AC, and my wife gets cold by about 8pm, so we close windows.

So, it must be the heat rising at your house - I don't see why opening the upstairs windows doesn't help for you. Can't you open some downstairs windows in the earlier evening? I wouldn't think you'd need to open all of them.
Sep 13, 2008
Or simply an extractor fan fitted in reverse. Of course, it would have to be in a vent with an airtight seal when closed.

Added functionalities could include some sort of air filter, so u get clean air and not cold guck, and a potentiometer on the switch so u could select various speeds depending on how cold it is outside and how much of the cold u want to bring in.

should be quite cheap. except the air filter. that'd have to be a good filter or u cud end up with some nasty wake up calls! :o)

(cant be bothered to read all the posts, so scusie me if someone's already brought this up.)
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