It's HOT in here!!! How to keep house cool?

skubaSeptember 7, 2013

Hey Guys,
We live in San Francisco and just had a baby 1 week ago. Besides already dealing with sewer/water work outside our house with tractors all week, now it's the crazy SF weather. We don't have A/C and it's been really hot. Last night at 9pm it was 81� in the bedroom. We had a fan and an air purifier acting as fan on. Baby ended up sleeping ok after temp dropped to around 77� around 11:30pm.

We recently moved so we don't have shades in the room yet, just hanging a sheet on the window. But all my windows are high efficiency. Do I keep them closed all day or open them? I don't know what's worse.

In the kitchen is where we can get the most air flow because there is a deck and skylight, but it's also south facing so it gets the most sun during the day. What to do about that? Keep deck window and skylight closed or open?

Today I am trying a new thing. I open the door from our floor to the garage and open the garage door to backyard. Trying to create an up draft. Not sure it will help if air outside is also hot.

Any advice is very appreciated.

Thanks so much

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Fori is not pleased

I'm across the bay from you. Hot, huh? :)

You open everything up at night and close it in the morning and hope you can keep the cool in until sunset. It'll always get cold at night!

You probably won't be able to beat THIS heat wave before it's over--not with a baby--but shades, exterior awnings, trees, etc. are things to look into before next summer.

Look into a portable AC unit from Home Depot or Lowe's or where-ever. You could probably get that set up today.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 5:13PM
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Hot? I live in Redding. 80úF sounds like a cold snap.

An alternative to the AC would be a box fan in a window at night to blow thru. Then close it up as fori says. We do that.

Till you get things squared away damp cloths on the baby will keep it cool. Gotta change em often.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Fori is not pleased

But in Redding you have AC!

Or you're one tough sonofagun. :)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Swamp Cooler. Big window fan. Tough? Yup.

Do guns have sons?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Quickly install some sort of shade screens on the south-facing window to minimize heat gain. What do the windows look like outside? Is there enough room to get a tension curtain rod in there? If so, I have plans for a no-sew, no nail shade screen.

Open something LOW for an air entrance, preferably on the shady side of the house. Open the highest possible window or skylight for the hot air to exit.

Ideally you would have the air input on one side of the house and the exit on the other side, so cool air gets pulled through all the rooms ... but do what you can. The room with the air input will cool off first, the one with the exit cools off last.

As soon as it's cooler outside than inside, open the venting windows.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 12:30PM
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Hi Guys, thanks for the tips. So what we tried this time was to leave all major windows open through the night (except where baby sleeps). This morning was a nice 64 inside the house. Around 9am when sun started showing and fog going away I closed all windows. Current indoor and outdoor temp is 70, but it's supposed to go up to 81 today. We will see how it holds up.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Can you just buy a $200 window unit to cool it down temporarily? That's what we did for the house we're remodeling, because the A/C's got a bad coil and we're not ready to replace it yet. We stuck it in the kitchen window and it helped immensely.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 3:36PM
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Well I am sure in a sweat worrying about that baby.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Fori is not pleased

Don't worry. It's cool again. :)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 12:56PM
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81ð...pshaw! Try 100 with no airconditioning. Central Ohio for you...sun, rain, possible frost can happen all in one day. Last week it was 89 at 10pm and got down to I believe 75. This past couple days, highs were around 73 and lows down to 54.

San Francisco has weather I'd kill for, gladly giving up several feet of snow and ice in winter and roasting summers with high humidity.

As lazygardens said, use the suggested method of circulating the cool air from bottom to top...that is how old houses coped in addition to their higher ceilings. A box fan will also help the effect by having one suck air in on the cool side and expelling it on the hot side during the day. Keep all other windows closed, and pull shades or curtains on the sunnier façades. I have a small window a/c which I can use in the computer room if it is extremely hot, but haven't used it yet this year.

I'm not familiar with babies, but considering their previous home was a comfy 98.6, I can't imagine 81 being a problem. Feed and care as usual. :)

Prioritize installing roller shades (preferably room-darkening) and curtains to help in temperature control...and congratulations on both the house and baby.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Hi Guys, thanks for tips. Yes I know it's hotter in other places, I am not comparing. Anyway, another heat wave came by on the weekend and it was brutal again.
I have tried many methods: windows open at night closed during the day, or windows opened day and night. I have closed the (almost) black out curtain on all major window, and didn't help much.

Not sure how much a central A/C unit would have cost, but I am missing it.

I have been doing some research about attic venting, attic insulation, whole house fans, etc... I am trying to figure out what would be a cost effective solution to reduce the temp inside the house on those 80+ degree days.

I am also thinking of adding e-film to one original window and one original skylight, but not sure if these 2 things alone will make any difference.

Do you have any tips? Should I talk to a roofing contractor?

Thanks much,

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:50PM
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Put in the roof vents. At least r30 for attic insulation. This will easily drop five degrees off. Start there, this is the the most cost effective.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:47AM
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Shade screens to keep the heat OUT would be an economical start. Even "high efficiency" windows let in an amazing amount of heat.

I have one 18x24 window (double-paned), in my un-airconditioned utility room. Putting a shade screen on it lowered the temperature in that room about 10 degrees.

Post a picture of the outside of the windows - some of them can be screened with no carpentry skills.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 7:34AM
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Hi Lazygardens, thanks for the message. Would this be screens to replace current bug screens?


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Skuba - they can, if you have full-sized screens.

They go outside, covering the whole window or at least most of it, to keep the heat out of the house.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Something don't add up here to me. I raised several chilluns in Sunnyale and Milpitas and 80F wasn't that big a deal.

I wonder if your attic/house has zero insulation such that there is radiant heat to you from the walls and ceiling. For example if the attic is 150F + your ceiling may be radiating heat to you especially to your head. Accordingly your inside ambient temp may not be high but the radiant heat could be overpowering.

This principle was brought home to me here in Redding quite dramatically when I was insulating our garage. I was puttng up 4 foot sections of overhead dry wall then sliding in R-38 insulation batts. At mid day I was standing under an insulated section and stepped out under the non-insulated section and nearly got sick. The radiation off the underside of the roof was intense or brutal as you put it.

To check this out look in the attic, measure the temp there with a digital themometer using a remote readout and also feel the ceiling - you can easily tell if it's over body temp. Mount the thermometer in the early morning while still cool. A digital remote thermometer is about $10 so this is a cheap experimental investigation.

So even if I am rong you would at least have one definite answer/clue/data point from which to proceed with the case of the San Francisco Brutal Temperature New Baby Household.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 7:02PM
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mxyplx, great idea. I will put a digital thermometer there and compare to the temperature inside the house.

Yes, my house has no insulation except for the kitchen area witch was remodeled.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Is your baby wearing clothes or just a diaper? Skin red with rash? Hope you aren't using Tide as that can cause discomfort as can most clothes soaps. If baby can't sleep with just diaper, you might try ice cubes in a pan under crib, that would cool area a little. I happen to have problems with AC so when it's over 110 I can get miserable .I have lots of ice tea(decaf) loaded with ice, very light clothing & loose, ice in washcloth to wipe over my arms & legs. I did install a window type AC in wall in case I was so hot I was about to black out. Haven't used it yet. Can't have fans. Do have heavy security screen doors(not really screen but steel with holes in it) open doors early & close as soon as warms. My house is fully insulated walls(used car lights while they were building it & stapled it in) guy checked attic in a suit- I said get back up there & walk around as I was up & looked earlier so they added more & I later added lot more myself. To cool things further I bought 20 ft long shade cloth & attached to edge of patio cover & poles that are removable sunk in concrete makes things much easier walking over to pick tomatoes or peppers etc. Cut down water bill too which is good as on restrictions. Can get vinyl outside shades but they break up in wind so you can cut shade cloth to put over window. Good Luck! If baby feels hot & is fussy, good time to give bath right before bed with lukewarm water. That will cool him/her for at least 30 minutes.Is baby on blanket, should be on just a cotton sheet that is fitted over crib mattress.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 12:11AM
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Try a radiant barrier under the ceiling rafters. It worked wonders at our last house. It looks like car windshield sun screens (foiled bubble wrap) and just gets stapled to the joists. You can get large rolls at the orange box.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Maryinthefalls, that's a great idea. But unfortunately there is no access. The attic is like 1 foot high only. I think only option would be by blowing insulation. Or it would have to be done on the roof.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:09PM
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Do you have a flat roof? Perhaps this calls for a pro - like em or not they've seen it all.

I googled >how to insulate a 1 foot high attic<. most hits didn seem to apply. this one it had some good info especially if you scroll down a the last paragraph. seems might be in region of pg energy upgrade ca rebate program. can click on that link and get site.>The first comment also had good info. That's as far as I took it. Maybe another search term would do mo bettah.

I had a apt in Mountain View with no insulation. I could put my fingers on the cold wall and could feel the temp gradient along my arm to my shoulder. 655-C Fairmont I think. 1962. What a memory. :-) Hadn't thot of it in years.

Here is a link that might be useful: Try it

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 1:06AM
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This post was edited by mxyplx on Sat, Oct 12, 13 at 9:53

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 1:10AM
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Thanks Mxypix.

So yesterday I measure the temp with a digital thermometer inside the house at 70f. Then opened the access to the attic and put it in there. Measured 106f!!!! And this is right above our heads.
I guess my best bet is really to insulate the attic.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 7:05PM
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