As a science textbook will tell you, heat rises. When you are figuring out how to cool down an upstairs apartment, you have to account for several factors. While there are plenty of options for how to cool off an apartment, how to keep a top floor apartment cool in the summer requires paying attention to these additional factors. But just because a top floor apartment is warmer doesn’t mean you have to lose your cool. In this blog, we’ll cover those heat-adding factors and how to cool down an upstairs apartment efficiently and effectively. Figure out which of these tips work best for your home and you’ll be able to effectively chill where you chill out.
Use an Air Conditioner
Okay, duh. We’re an air conditioner company. So when we recommend solutions for how to cool off an apartment, we’re obviously going to start by suggesting installing an AC unit. But it’s worth checking an AC unit off your list before you move on to other solutions. Also, if you are living in a top floor apartment, there are a few additional factors to consider when selecting your window unit.
The cooling capability of an AC unit is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units). Generally speaking, the BTU you need to cool a space is determined by the square footage of the area you are trying to cool. Other factors increase the amount of BTU required, including how high up your apartment is off the ground. So when you’re figuring out how to cool down an upstairs apartment, make sure to select an AC unit with extra BTU to compensate for altitude.
Augment AC with Fans
In addition to installing an AC unit, fans are a great way to keep cool. It’s important to know that, if you’re looking at how to cool off your apartment, a fan doesn’t actually lower the temperature. Instead, fans utilize windchill to make you feel cool. The downside of fans is that, unlike an AC, you can’t pre-cool a room, or lower the temperature of a room and turn the fan off. But the upside of fans is that they’re a relatively inexpensive way to augment the cooling power of an AC, and since you only need to run them when you’re in a room, can help save even more money.
If you’re trying to figure out how to cool down an upstairs apartment without using an AC unit, fans can be an effective method. Window fans can redirect airflow and ventilate your apartment. We’ll go into more depth about airflow later on, but fans can help redirect the air in your home where you want it to go.
Block out the Sun
The sun is hot and radiates heat. That’s why it’s warmer when in direct sunlight than it is in the shade. Apartments at higher floors are sometimes above trees, and receive a lot more direct sunlight than apartments on lower floors. So when figuring out how to keep your top floor apartment cool in the summer, you can start by preventing your apartment from getting too warm.
Keep your blinds lowered during the sunniest part of the day. You can also consider purchasing blackout shades to really keep the heat out. You don’t need to keep your blinds drawn all day long—just figure out when each window receives the most sunlight, and keep it covered during that time. Generally speaking, the sunniest part of the day is from 11 am to 4 pm, but your windows won’t all be direct sunlight at once. If you have a pet cat, you might see them move from sunbeam to sunbeam. Your cat might not like it, but tracking their movement and lowering the blinds will keep your apartment cooler.
Another way to limit sunlight is with plants. While plants won’t absorb heat, they love light. Keeping a few plants in your window or on a balcony will block some sunlight from coming in. In addition, who doesn’t love a little greenery in their home?
One upside of living further from the ground is there are fewer buildings and other structures to block the wind. As we discussed in the fan section, while fans don’t solve the problem if you’re looking into how to cool off your apartment, they do keep you cooler. Wind works the same way. Opening windows and letting wind run through your apartment can keep you feeling cool even on hotter days. Using the wind to naturally ventilate a stuffy apartment is an energy-efficient way to cycle the air in your home.
Just make sure you aren’t running your AC while your windows are open! Then the cool air will follow the wind right out the window. Which ties in nicely to our next recommendation on how to cool down an upstairs apartment.
Concentrate the Cool
At first glance, concentrating cool air looks like it’s at odds with improving the airflow. But in a weird way, it’s actually the same solution, just with a different framing. When figuring out how to keep a top floor apartment cool in the summer, try keeping a smaller area cool. If you aren’t going into your bedroom during the day, close the door to block off cool air from migrating to an empty room. The same applies to bathrooms and other rooms you occupy only part-time.
At night, try closing your bedroom door as you sleep. This will keep the cool air in the bedroom with you and block warm air from other parts of your home. By limiting the area you’re trying to cool, you can limit how often you need to run your AC. Keep in mind the BTU of your air conditioning system, as a space that is too small for an AC unit cools inefficiently and will not effectively dehumidify. That said, running your AC with the door open, and then closing the door once your room reaches a desired temperature will help keep the cooler air in one place.
If you have central AC, try closing off the vents to rooms that aren’t in use in addition to closing doors. Got an office that you never go into on the weekends? Shut the vent so you aren’t wasting cool air on an empty room.
Use Vents to Remove Heat
When figuring out how you can cool down an upstairs apartment, there are a few different behaviors you can adopt. One effective and easy to implement change is using the ventilation in your home to get rid of excess heat. When taking a hot shower, run the exhaust vent in the bathroom to suck up extra heat you produce. You’ll get the added bonus of defogging your bathroom mirror.
You can also vent out the extra heat from cooking by running the exhaust fan in your kitchen. Some people only use their kitchen fan when a cooking mishap starts burning! But you can employ the kitchen fan to suck up extra heat from the oven or stove. In most homes, the kitchen is the hottest room, but you can still limit how much heat it pours into the rest of your living space. If your kitchen has a door, shutting the door while you cook might make the kitchen hotter, but it will keep the rest of your home cooler as a result.
Reduce Extra Heat Production
While we’re talking about kitchens, let’s discuss how to cool down an upstairs apartment by never heating it up in the first place. As we mentioned, your kitchen produces a ton of heat while you cook. Eating uncooked meals like salads, or using the microwave instead of the oven or stove dramatically cuts down the heat your kitchen produces. Cookouts are a fun way to cut down on kitchen heat. Don’t have a fancy grill? You can find cheap charcoal grills and have yourself a cookout anyway.
It’s not just the kitchen that makes a ton of heat. If you’re lucky enough to have an in-unit washing machine and dryer, the dryer produces a ton of heat. Which makes sense if you think about it—even on lower heat settings, the dryer still uses a ton of electricity, which releases ambient heat into your home. Try hang-drying your laundry; you’ll save money on electricity and keep your apartment cooler.
Look for Energy Efficient Alternatives
But why stop at the kitchen and the laundry room? When figuring out how to keep a top floor apartment cool in summer, energy efficiency is your friend. In addition to microwaving over using the oven and hang-drying clothes, small optimizations add up to a big difference. For example, every appliance plugged into an outlet produces some amount of ambient heat. Heavy consumption appliances like televisions and computers produce more, but even phone chargers produce some. Unplugging out-of-use appliances adds up to a cooler home.
It can be a pain to remember to unplug each and every appliance when they’re out of use. One easy solution is to make use of outlet splitters. That way, you only need to remember to unplug the splitter in order to unplug all of the attached appliances.
If you’re still trying to solve how you can cool down an upstairs apartment, LED lights can be the answer. LED lights use less energy, produce less heat, and last longer than traditional light bulbs. As an added benefit, many LED lights can be programmed to turn off automatically, so you don’t have to worry about leaving the light running through the night.
No one likes humidity. When planning how to cool down an upstairs apartment, humidity is a wildcard. Even if you successfully lower the temperature, a humid home will feel hotter than a home at the same temperature from dry heat.
Humidity is how much water vapor there is in the air. You might see humidity expressed as a percentage, like 78%. The percentage refers to the relative humidity of the air. 100% is the dew point, at which the water vapor would be so saturated in the air that it would precipitate. With regards to relative humidity, anything approaching 60% or higher feels uncomfortable. So when you’re looking into how to cool off your apartment, reducing humidity goes a long way.
So how do you reduce humidity? Running an air conditioner dehumidifies the air in your home. For additional dehumidification, you can purchase a standalone dehumidifier unit. But before you purchase a dehumidifier, try out these solutions:
Open windows and run fans to circulate air. Circulating air will disperse the water vapor and lower humidity.
Use your bathroom vent while showering. Hot water evaporates, so the air receives an influx of water vapor after a warm shower. Taking cooler showers and running the vent lowers humidity.
Make a natural dehumidifier. Charcoal naturally absorbs moisture, so leaving a small jar of charcoal in your home will take humidity out of the air.
Limit the number of indoor plants. Plants produce humidity after they receive water, so keep them outdoors, or decorate with succulents and other low-water plants.
White Furniture Reflects Heat
Bright colors are a huge help when figuring out how to cool down an upstairs apartment. White furniture might get dirty easily, but it’s harder to warm it up. Light colors reflect light, while darker colors absorb more light. And as we covered previously, sunlight is heat. If you’ve ever sat on a hot leather couch, you know exactly how heat gets trapped in furniture. In fact, this same color principle is why white cars can run their AC less than black cars.
You might wonder: if white reflects heat, then why do we recommend blackout shades as a way to cut down on heat? That’s because blackout shades absorb the light and heat that would come in through the windows. Your furniture is already in your home, so it can’t block out heat. But by absorbing heat, your furniture will retain some of that warmth even as you try to cool down the rest of your home.
If you can’t figure out how to cool off your apartment, cool yourself off. Just as cooling down one room takes less effort than cooling a multi-room apartment, cooling yourself can be easier than cooling your home. Wearing loose-fitting clothing made of breathable material will help you keep cool in the summer, as will taking cooler showers. Eating cold foods and drinking iced beverages also provides relief from the heat.
Have you ever put a sweater in the dryer before wearing it on a cold day? You can achieve a similar but opposite effect by refrigerating your sheets before bed. Your body heat will warm the sheets, but not before they cool you down.
These are just some solutions for when you’re trying to figure out how to cool down an upstairs apartment. While you might not be able to adopt all these solutions—and some will be best implemented at different times—try out as many as you can to figure out which solution works best for you.
There are tons of benefits to living in an upstairs apartment. It’s hard to beat an on-high view of your city or town. Higher apartments are further removed from the sounds of the street and traffic. So don’t let all this talk of how to keep a top floor apartment cool in summer scare you from moving into a loft!
Remember that keeping cool is as much about behavioral changes as it is about technological improvements. Get in the habit of using less heavy-consumption appliances and unplugging appliances that are out of use. Close doors to empty rooms and run fans in the room you’re occupying. If you have questions about optimizing how cool your home is, our support team is available every day of the week to help you out. Our specialty is cool temperatures, but we can also rate your aesthetics, if you ask nicely.