Posted on: 24 September 2015
Cape Cod style homes are known for their unique upstairs floors, which are essentially built into what would have been the attic space and feature slanted ceilings. This unique design makes for a quaint home, but it makes cooling the home a challenge. Not only does the warm air tend to get trapped in the corners under the low ceilings, but the upstairs' proximity to the roof means that warmth from the sun is easily transferred to the home interior.
If the upstairs of your Cape Cod home seems to stay warm and stuffy, even with the air conditioning running, here are a few ways to address the problem.
Keep the fan on all the time.
Your thermostat likely has two fan settings. The first setting, labeled "auto," turns the fan on only when the air conditioner is actively cooling the air. The second setting, "on," leaves the fan on all the time, regardless of whether the air conditioning is currently cooling. If you have a Cape Cod home, you're probably better off putting the fan on the "on" setting, especially on the hottest days of the year. This will ensure the air stays evenly mixed in your home, instead of allowing the hot air to accumulate in the upstairs while the cooler air sinks downstairs. You'll also feel cooler upstairs, since the air from the vents will be flowing past your skin.
The downfall to using the "on" fan setting is that constantly operating the fan is expensive. Thus, you may want to save this little tip for the hottest days, and rely on the other two tips in this article for those ordinary, warm but not scorching, summer nights.
Put a door between the upstairs and downstairs.
This is another strategy that helps keep all of the warm air from traveling upstairs, and the cool air traveling down. If your home design allows for it, place a door somewhere between the upstairs and down. Placing it at the bottom of the stairs is ideal, since then the warm air won't travel up the staircase at all. However, if you can only sneak a door in at the top of the stairs, this is better than nothing.
If your design does not allow for a door to be installed, then try hanging a thick insulating curtain across the stairway instead. You can hang a tension rod (the type used for shower curtains or drapes) across the top of the stairway, as close to the ceiling as you can get, and drape some long, insulating curtains, or even just a big piece of fleece material, over it.
Install a window air conditioner to use on the hottest days.
If you're finding that your energy bills are really high due to your efforts to cool the upstairs of your Cape Cod home, you might save money by investing in small window air conditioners to use in your upstairs rooms. On most days, you may be able to get away without using them, but on days when you're tempted to turn your thermostat down to try and make the upstairs bearable, you can turn them on instead of making your central air conditioner work harder. Your upstairs will be more comfortable, and your energy bills will likely be lower too -- since it requires less energy to run a small window unit than to work a large central air conditioner at its maximum capacity.
If you're having trouble cooling your Cape Cod home in spite of following these tips, talk to an HVAC professional. This is a hard type of home to cool evenly, but an HVAC tech who has worked with Cape Cod homes in the past may have some additional advice to offer. Call a company like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy for more tips.