my room is 2 hot
August 17, 2015 4:49 PM   Subscribe

My room is SO HOT. Hotter than the rest of the house, probably about ten degrees hotter than outside. What can I do to cool it down?

In case it's not obvious, we don't have central AC. My room is the warmest year-round because apparently mine is facing the sun or something? I currently have a floor fan, my room's not that big so the air reaches but it just blows hot air around mostly. I live with roommates and I'm not sure if they'd approve the extra energy costs in me buying my own window AC. (Is it expensive?)

What can I do before I die of heatstroke?
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get a window AC and just pay the energy difference. It costs more than running a fan but it's not THAT much, especially if you're smart about it (i.e. don't run it 24/7, put it on a reasonable temperature, close the door of your room when you're using it so it doesn't try to cool the whole house). Unless your room is enormous it'll probably only be an extra $30 a month or so. A dollar a day to not be miserable. Do it.
posted by phunniemee at 4:53 PM on August 17, 2015 [15 favorites]

You can put a reflective film on your windows, but I personally don't think they work that well. Your best bet is definitely a window unit. You could install one, see what the difference is in your next energy bill, and then offer to subsidize that difference.

There are these portable ACs, but they're more expensive and it looks like they suck up a lot more electricity.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:55 PM on August 17, 2015

If your room is getting hot because of sun, start by getting light blocking curtains that you close during the daytime. Yes, it cuts down the natural light (obviously), but that light is making your room hot. Depending on where you live - if it gets cool at night, open the windows at night and get a window fan that blows the cool air into the room.

You can at least start there cheaply and see if those make a difference before trying out an AC.
posted by brainmouse at 4:56 PM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Window A/C units suck down electricity but one sized for a small room won't be that expensive and you can offer to pay the extra part of the bill. The roommates might be interested in getting a couple units and air conditioning the entire place.

If you're in a dry environment, you can use swamp cooler style air conditioning quite efficiently.

If you're not doing that and your roommates are agreeable, what you need to do is have window fans that create airflow by having them more or less inline on opposite walls with one pulling air in from outside and the other pushing air inside out. Keeping that movement of air going will help a lot.
posted by Candleman at 4:57 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is your room humid? I purchased a small dehumidifier for around $45 from Home Depot a couple of months ago, and it's definitely helped keep things more comfortable in my apartment.
posted by raztaj at 5:13 PM on August 17, 2015

Thick light blocking thermal curtains will help keep the heat out, even better if you can get some sort of shade netting or cover on the outside of the window before the heat gets in the room. Keep the curtains shut all day, then open them & the window at night when it is cooler outside.

If you have to run a light in the room try to stick to LED's as they don't produce much heat, and don't run a computer in there, even if it's a small room, it's like running a heater & then complaining it's hot. I lived though Australian summers for 40years without airconditioning, it can be done but you have to think about light & heat together like brainmouse said.
posted by wwax at 5:20 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: >Thick light blocking thermal curtains will help keep the heat out, even better if you can get some sort of shade netting or cover on the outside of the window before the heat gets in the room. Keep the curtains shut all day, then open them & the window at night when it is cooler outside.

..Black garbage bags? I've been wondering if that would work..
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2015

How many windows do you have? You need flow. I'm guessing it gets hottest come evening. Put 2 window fans, one facing out, one coming in. Also, the floor fan at your door facing out.

I agree with the close your windows up tight come midmorning. This does not work if your place is very poorly insulated but will work pretty great if it is insulated.
posted by ReluctantViking at 5:30 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I was growing up my dad would never let us turn on the AC because it was soooo expensive. Turns out, it's like pretty much $10-20/mo. So if you can afford it, I'd say it's worth it.
posted by easter queen at 5:34 PM on August 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Australian here - we generally don't have AC (though this is changing) and our houses tend to be not very tight (which makes them super airy come winter!)

Nthing the light blocking curtains. Thick, heavy, make the room dark. We have a tradition of keeping houses dark and closed up during the day and then opening all the windows to air out at night.

Keep lights off, don't run computers etc. The heat generated makes a noticable increase in temperature.

Definitely flow. Even having an internal door open as well as the window will make a significant difference.
posted by kitten magic at 5:37 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

My mother insists that putting frozen ice packs in front of a small fan does big things for cooling a room. YMMV.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:38 PM on August 17, 2015

Black garbage bags? I've been wondering if that would work.

No - you want white. Black absorbs the heat, white reflects it back. If your place has crappy insulation, just getting a cheap AC unit might be your best bet. But you can first try a light blocking curtain/window shade down all day with the window shut, and then a fan bringing in cool air all night.
posted by missmary6 at 6:02 PM on August 17, 2015

If you and/or your roommates are concerned and/or curious, you can plug the unit into a $17 device called a Killawatt that will tell you exactly how much power it used; your bill will tell you how much that power cost. Home Depot or Amazon.
posted by ftm at 6:19 PM on August 17, 2015

Best answer: I have had to keep a small room cool for several summers for snakes (in ambient 40°C weather), and the AC unit, along with a standing fan for air circulation, is the ONLY thing that made any difference. You can try keeping the window open overnight with a window fan circulating air, and then closing the window during the day and taping tinfoil over it with the reflective side out… but it really just looks awful and maybe lowers your temperature a degree or so.

If you really don't want an AC unit, an in-window dual fan works but will only lower the temperature by a few degrees. Not enough to sleep comfortably by. Ask me how I know. :(
posted by Nyx at 6:20 PM on August 17, 2015

If you can't alter your building to put wooden blinds or a shade on the outside of the window, then better even than fabric for inside would be some kind of wood or bamboo blinds. Yes, every Australian house has this problem and it's block up during the day, let the heat out at night.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:21 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yea, it's like $10 a month for a small room, especially if you only run it when you want to sleep/really need it.

A cheapo 5000btu unit will be fine. Something like this.

I've lived with roommates and we ALL had air conditoners, and we were awful about keeping doors shut and stuff. The power difference between fall/spring when no heat or AC was used and summer was maybe $40 TOTAL, for the whole house, with like 5 air conditioners.

Just do it.
posted by emptythought at 6:23 PM on August 17, 2015

If you don't get a/c (out of stock by now, roommates flip out, window too small or the wrong shape, tragic installation fail), window covering, two fans and access to a shower can help a lot. I speak from the experience of working in a tiny, sunny second floor room for 10 years.

1) Prevent the heat from coming into your room in the first place. Make sure your windows are CLOSED and the window glass blocked with an opaque, light covering by the time the sun comes up. A cheap, light coloured bedspread from the thrift shop will do.

2) Once the sun moves over your building to the other side, it's OK to open the window covering and open your windows. Yes, even if it's still hot out and you can see that it's a sunny day -- IF you now set up a fan to suck any hot air in your room OUT the window.

3) During the time that you are in the room and it's too hot to be comfortable:

a) Take a tepid shower and barely dry off
b) Have a fan directed at you in the room (it won't cool off the room, but it will help cool YOU off)

4) If it cools down at night, set up the window fan to blow in more cool air if needed.

5) If it is still hot at night, take another shower and sleep with a fan blowing on you.

BTW, if you can't find a window unit that fits, look for a portable, wheeled a/c that will just need a hose fed out your window. You will also have to change the pan fairly often as the moisture in the room collects.
posted by maudlin at 6:57 PM on August 17, 2015

I am super jealous of the answers that say AC is cheap. I think our electricity (Australia) is really expensive. It's also such a cultural thing doing the close up during the day / cheer when we get a southerly buster in the evening that having air con seems so extravagantly wasteful when generations before me suffered through exactly what the OP describes. Meh, I want cheap icy coolness all summer!
posted by kitten magic at 6:59 PM on August 17, 2015

Just to piggyback on this question, what if your room is hot not from the sun hitting directly, but just because it's on the 2nd floor and heat rises?

I have a small fan, would it help to put it on my windowsill facing inward or outward?
posted by picklenickle at 7:07 PM on August 17, 2015

For sunblocking on the cheap, I have taped thermal blankets like these on the window:

If you searched, you could probably find a unit of less than 20 to buy, but you can see they are pretty cheap. They kept the sun out and they are transparent like sunglasses.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:10 PM on August 17, 2015

Best answer: Damn it, I just realized that my advice assumed that you were in an east-facing room.

If you face west (afternoon sun) you will need to keep your window covered and the window closed at least from late morning/early afternoon to sunset. Use the fan to blow out hot air or blow in cool air (if there is any) at appropriate times.

If you have southern exposure, you may need to keep your window closed and covered from dawn till dusk.

If you have northern exposure, keep your blind up and window open and blow hot air out as needed.

picklenickle, blow hot air out the window when it's hot AND you don't have the sun on that side of the building. Blow cool air in if there is actually cool air at any time. In addition, take quick, tepid shows and direct a fan on you only.

Seriously, if you're going to get a/c, the portable units may be more expensive, but they will work with all windows.
posted by maudlin at 7:15 PM on August 17, 2015

If your window faces west and has mini-blinds which you're keeping closed during the afternoon, make sure the blinds are also turned to keep the sun from streaming in (i.e., have them pointing out and down), otherwise they're not much good as sun barriers.
posted by bentley at 7:34 PM on August 17, 2015

We have a portable unit and it's awesome, because we have it in a window between the bedroom and the living room and we can just point it into whatever room we're hanging out in. We got it super cheap from a craigslist-esque website at our local university. Worth looking into if you have a local university!
posted by easter queen at 7:57 PM on August 17, 2015

If you don't have window coverings, taping white paper to the glass- cover it all- will make a noticeable difference in heat, but still let in light.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:37 PM on August 17, 2015

Turn off your computer during the day. Depending on what it is, that's anywhere from 50 to 1000 watts of heat. (Some towers are even worse.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:25 PM on August 17, 2015

Black garbage bags?

No. If sunlight coming in through your windows is what's heating up your room, then you want to bounce that energy straight back out again, not have it absorbed inside. Incoming sunlight will heat up your space regardless of whether it's being absorbed by your walls and furniture and carpets or by something black just inside your windows.

You want something opaque and bright white that offers a fairly flat surface to the outside when closed. Wooden venetian blinds work quite well, or perhaps a light-blocking pulldown blind with a bright white side facing the window.

If you can arrange for something white and fairly opaque to shade your window from the outside, that will work even better because it will also avoid giving your window glass the opportunity to absorb energy from light passing through it in two directions.
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 PM on August 17, 2015

Don't bother with inside blinds, they don't do much. Get outside window blinds and you'll block 70% of the heat by stopping the sun heating up the air inside your room.
posted by gorcha at 11:59 PM on August 17, 2015

Don't bother with inside blinds, they don't do much

If they present a dark surface to the window, this is absolutely true. If they have a stark white surface facing the outside and they're opaque enough that your room needs its interior lights switched on when they're closed, then they could easily work well enough to make modifying the outside of your building not worth the trouble.
posted by flabdablet at 12:13 AM on August 18, 2015

I have white heavyweight roller blinds. They block external light and heat extremely well. If you can't afford custom blinds, try any opaque curtains with a white or pale sun-facing surface.
posted by maudlin at 12:38 AM on August 18, 2015

(External window blinds are effective and attractive if you can afford them and if they fit your house and climate. If you have casement windows and/or brutal winters, they are not a choice for you.)
posted by maudlin at 12:40 AM on August 18, 2015

If your roomates have issues with the cost just get a a monitor for your outlet so you can track how much electricity your A/C uses and calculate the extra the you need to pay. Don't just pay the increase in your bill because your roomates my free ride once they know you are picking up any extra. Also indoor activity and electricity consumption goes up when it is too hot to be outside even without a/c - fans, tv, lights, etc...
posted by srboisvert at 5:14 AM on August 18, 2015

Just get an A/C and save yourself the trouble-- there are plenty of tricks and tips you can use to make the room slightly cooler without one but nothing will get the job done like air conditioning.

Unless your roommates have already explicitly expressed concern about increased utilities related to air conditioning I would say just get one, be mindful about using it, and offer to pay only if there's a significant increase in the electric bill.

The best ways to keep costs down are to limit how often you use it (I generally only use mine at night, and if I really need it during the day I turn it off as soon as the room cools down), utilize any energy saver or timer functions it has, and unplug it when it's not in use.
posted by fox problems at 5:39 AM on August 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm gonna get the AC now knowing it won't cost too much :)
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:13 PM on August 18, 2015

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