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?
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +9
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Sep 12, 2008
"Which side of the argument is your wife on? "

Did you mean: "Whichever side of the argument your wife is on."

Scott: Did you consider titanium window shutters for at least one of the lower floor windows ?
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 12, 2008
Are you just playing dumb or is this part of your mechanical disinclination? Looks like your readers have given you all the information you need to solve the problem.
Sep 12, 2008
Seriously? Jail bars or never leaving a window open?

I already made this comment last time you revealed how clueless Americans are in controlling the temperature of their homes, but here it is this time with pictures.

What you need is a window like this:

The part on the left in the picture functions like this on the inside:

Those are the best pictures I could find at the moment, but hopefully you get the idea. With these type of windows you don't open the window itself, but a narrow door like part that has a bug screen and looks nice from the outside. You can even put extra air filters on them if you have allergies.
Sep 12, 2008
Jebus. With major corrections and 100% less snark......


Assuming you have vertical windows and not the dopey roll out kind, here's what you need to do:

Get a metal bar that is thin enough to fit in the top of your vertical window track so that the window can only open so far, say 6 inches. You could affix the bar so that it won't fall out if the window is lowered and cannot be removed unless you are standing in front of it. I believe this could be accomplished with a a few pins through the bar and into the window frame. Viola, unless your criminals are super crafty or very flat you can have your windows locked, yet open. Self pwnage is the worst kind. = (
Sep 12, 2008

Assuming you have horizontal windows and not the dopey roll out kind, here's what you need to do if you:

Get a metal bar that is thin enough to fit in the top of your horizontal window track so that the window can only open so far, say 6 inches. You could affix the bar so that it won't fall out if the window is lowered and cannot be removed unless you are standing in front of it. I believe this could be accomplished with a a few pins through the bar and into the window frame. Viola, unless your criminals are super crafty or very flat you can have your windows locked, yet open. I know, its a damn good idea. You're welcome.

Sep 12, 2008
You're right. The heat is accumulation of thermal exposure to sun during the day. In fact, the indoor temperature often peaks at around 630pm, rather than noon that most people assume. Indoor temperature is the lowest early morning around 530am.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 12, 2008
Your home = your property. Bar as many windows as you want.
Your home = your property. Booby trap your downstairs windows.

Can you tell I'm not an american? That I don't live in the 'land of the free'? :D

Oh, and I have a feeling your temperatures are wrong; the hottest place on Earth is in Libya with 66 degrees.

Oh, bollocks... You're Americans! You don't use the same temperatures the rest of the world* does! Sorry, my mistake. *rolls eyes*

(Why use that bloody illogical system when the rest* of the world uses a more logical system from 0-100? *sigh*)

* Yeah, I know. -Most- of the rest of the world...
Sep 12, 2008
They have really small air-conditioners designed for one room. Also, you could have an enclosure built around the top portion of the bed and just air condition that small space... thus allowing you to sleep but using the least amount of energy. The various passive systems sound better, though.
Sep 12, 2008
Check your attic, if it's so hot up there you can hardly breath, that's probably the problem. All you need to do is install an attic fan.
Before I put one in, my house had the same problem. It would stay unbearably hot at night even win the outside temperature cooled down. After I installed it, it keeps the house cool even during the day. When it's 85 degrees outside, it's usually a comfortable 79 inside. We only have to keep our upstairs windows open at night with the a/c off, but I always hear everyone else's house's a/c running.
We haven't turned the house's a/c on the last two summers. (we live in Cleveland, but it still gets fairly hot in the summer)
Sep 12, 2008
Which side of the argument is your wife on?
Sep 12, 2008
I didn't see it posted anywhere else, but hey, bars on the windows means burglars can't get in, but also that you and your small kids can't get out (in a fire).
Sep 12, 2008
I lived in California for almost 15 years in town, hot during the day and cool at night (now I live in rural Wisconsin, I don't even know if my doors have locks) In California I installed a security screen door for about $100. It looked nice and let us sleep with the front door open to let some cool air in at night. Cheap fix and you get to go to the home center and try to pick one out with the better half (bonus points). After you agree on the style, you then get to try to agree on the color (more bonus points). Aint life grand?!?
Sep 12, 2008
Add one or more simple solar powered fans that runs when the sun shines cooling the attic. They can be installed very unobtrusively to a gable vent or outside on a highpoint of the roof. The association would be hard put to refuse this amenity. Also plant climbing vines or other tall plant or shade trees if possible on the West side of the home for shade. Wherever a outside wall gets heat paint the inside of it with thermal paint. Your sun exposed windows could be further inside tinted or awninged if you can get away with it.
Sep 12, 2008
What about window grills?

http://images.google.com/images?q=window grill&rls=p,com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7SUNA&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi/
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 12, 2008
There are certainly cheap and affordable options which rely on an operator to actively set in motion, such as opening windows at different parts of the home, and turning on fans in other areas.

If you want a system that looks after itself, you can incorporate an 'economizer' into your forced air, AC system. Essentially this consists of an louvre in your exterior wall, connected to your air conditioner via some ductwork. The economizer will measure the outdoor air temperature and humidity, and based on indoor conditions and outdoor conditions, will open the outdoor air louvre to draw in cool outside air, instead of running the AC. This is called 'free cooling'. It's typical for most commercial applications of a certain size, and obviously less common in residential applications.

Again, depending on your climate, and location, other options make more sense and are more cost effective. The whole house fan works very well in certain climates, as long as you don't mind opening a couple of windows on the ground floor. Sadly, paranoia (AKA - concern for safety), seems to trump these ideas.
Sep 12, 2008
Great question. Since I am practically your neighbor, also in a new house, I have the same problem.

Putting a fan upstairs pointing out is a good idea. Works for my parents in Upstate NY where it gets hot and humid for a few days in the summer but is usually comfortable or cold. Having an air conditioner is a big waste for them, so they've got an attic fan instead.
Sep 12, 2008
Solution: Get rid of the Home Owner's Association (Biddy Committee). Live free like God--err, I mean the Universe intended.
Sep 12, 2008
There is a very simple solution that requires no installation of anything - jail bars, ceiling fans, attic fans. Nothing.

If you look at your termostat, you will notice that, in addition to the A/C Auto setting, there's one for FAN. Put the switch in that position, and the fan will run, taking air from the outside and CIRCULATING it throughout the house.

It's not as energy efficient as a set of open windows, but they only work if there's a minimal breeze blowing to move the air. It is much more efficient than running the compressor of the A/C.

The real issue, the one that Scott is bemoaning, is that EVERY SINGLE THEMOSTAT IS STUPID!. They are not rigged to detect what the outside air is, to determine if "free cooling" (as it's called in the trade) is available. They only have one set mode at a time (Heat OR A/C), and only one setpoint.

This means that if its hot during the day (and you need A/C to keep comfortable), then it cannot switch over to heat at night. Sure, ideally there would be some way of storing the coldness (commercially, by making ice in a basement,during the night)

It's not that hard of an engineering problem. Someone just needs to get rich making a simple, smart thermostat. Scott would buy one. So would I.
Sep 12, 2008
Allergies. Or at least that's what my wife uses as an excuse for turning on the AC when putting the kids to sleep when its 65 outside. I don't have allergies myself, so I open the windows to try to cool down the house before she feels the need to turn on the AC.
Sep 12, 2008
Seems to me if it's colder outside and you have the top floor windows open, all you need is something blowing air from the ground floor to the outside.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog