As we probably all learned in high school science class, hot air rises. So it should be no surprise that the upper floors of your home get warmer than the lower ones. The worst of all is your attic, which can get pretty hot and stuffy. If you have an attic bedroom, it becomes essential that you have a way to keep it livable during the hot summer months. Here are five tips on how to cool an attic bedroom and stay comfortable this summer.
1. Check Windows and Doors
Since attics aren’t typically designed as living spaces, it’s common that they’re not as well sealed as other parts of your home. Start by locating and sealing (caulk or weather-strip) any gaps or small cracks around windows, doors, and skylights. Sealing the room will go a long way to support any other cooling efforts you make.
2. Check Your Insulation
If your attic insulation is in the floor—as it is in many homes—that can restrict airflow into the attic. That includes cooling air from your AC system. A more effective way to insulate for an attic bedroom is to remove the floor insulation and instead add insulation to the attic ceiling. Now your attic bedroom will be an integral part of the rest of your home from an HVAC perspective.
3. Check Your Ductwork
If you’re already using your attic as a bedroom or other living space, you may already have ductwork installed for both heating and cooling. Consider having that ductwork inspected by an HVAC pro to see if you can upgrade or improve it for summertime cooling—as well as winter heating. Keep in mind that adequate ductwork also affects your indoor air quality, which is important for maintaining your family’s health.
If you don’t already have ductwork for your attic space, you’ve got a couple of choices. You can have ductwork installed, but again, you’ll want to have the advice of a trusted HVAC pro. They’ll be able to determine if your current AC system can accommodate the extra square footage of your attic. If not, don’t despair. There are alternatives.
4. Add a Ductless System
A ductless system is a perfect solution if you can’t or don’t want to install ductwork in your attic. Also called “ductless split systems” or “mini-splits,” ductless systems are smaller than conventional ACs, are relatively easy to install, and are reversible: they can both heat and cool. They tend to be ideal solutions for cooling small spaces like attic bedrooms. Check with your HVAC professional to find out what will work best for your home.
5. Add a Zoned Thermostat
Whether you add new ductwork or a ductless system, you’ll also need to add a thermostat to control heating and cooling in the room. Typically, ductless systems are individually controlled by remote, and that may be the easiest solution. However, for added convenience, consider adding a thermostat that can handle your attic as a zone. You’ll be able to independently control your attic cooling from a central thermostat.
Similarly, if you’ve added the attic to your overall AC system via ductwork, adding a zoned thermostat will let you control the attic independently from the rest of your house. That can be a great convenience, especially if your attic bedroom is used infrequently.