How do I use my double-tiered windows efficiently?
June 20, 2006 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I have double-tiered windows (windows with two panes that slide from either the top or the bottom). Is it better to open the top tier or the bottom tier in the summer?

I'm confused about when it's best to open the bottom or the top tier. If I open the top tier, I let the hot air escape, right? But it's only when the bottom tier is open that we feel a cool breeze inside. What's the best thing to do to keep it cool inside?
posted by hooray to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They're called "double hung". If leaving them open all the time, I would leave the top open (because we had storm windows on the outside on top) so there was venting but if it rained the rain wouldn't come in.

If we wanted maximum breeze, we opened up the bottoms because they were less restrictive. If your windows don't have storms, though, none of this applies.

Just play with it; I don't think there is too much difference from a "physics" perspective as to which will cool down the house best.
posted by Doohickie at 7:44 AM on June 20, 2006

Well, warm air does rises, so having an outlet closer to the ceiling will help. You can try having the top down halfway and the bottom up halfway... lose some hot air, gain a cool breeze. This assumes that your screen covers the entire window.
posted by blackkar at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2006

Double-hung windows open from the top and bottom for the reason you discovered, hooray. With both open you get convection currents set up and the air in your home will refresh/be replaced much more quickly than with just the top or bottom open.
You don't say where you live, but when it's hot:
1. Open top and bottom as soon as it's cooler outside than it is inside.
2. Leave them open until it gets hot again (overnight, is what this usually means).
3. When the sun hits the window, close it up tight, and draw blinds, curtains, what have you.
4. When it is still cooler outside than inside, close up all the windows (and blinds) - timing may mean that you close it up just before you leave for work.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Sometimes a couple of fans going can speed up the cooling process.
Closing in the cool air, and keeping warmer air out is key to this process. It will seem stuffy when you come in, but should stay cooler.
Of course, some of this depends on temp differences where you live - less than 10 degrees between high/low might mean not much difference; however, keeping out the solar gain can keep it from getting hotter inside than out.
If you get a lot of sun at the hottest times of day, hangi some wide-slat bamboo blinds on the outside of building and lower them before you leave/the sun hits that window. This will create a shady space between where the sun hits and the glass of your windows. Then, when it's cooler, open the outside blinds.
posted by dbmcd at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ideally both glass portions should be in the middle of the window, leaving a gap at both the top and the bottom. This only works if you have two screens, though. Alternatively, if you have windows on two sides of the house, determine which side is letting the cool air in, and open the bottom on that side while opening the top on the other.
posted by OmieWise at 8:27 AM on June 20, 2006

Right, what Omie said... check outside to see which way the wind is blowing. Open the lower windows on that side of the house, and the upper windows on the opposite side.

We used to get pretty good mileage out of a big box fan parked in one of the windows... it really helped move air. I imagine two, one pulling and one pushing, would be even better, but mounting the push fan up high could be a pain.
posted by Malor at 8:50 AM on June 20, 2006

Omie - we have double-hungs and the screen covers the entire window - top, bottom, and middle - so I'm not sure what you mean by "two screens."?
Also, it really is more powerful (stronger currents) to open top/bottom of every pair of windows that are being opened (or so claims my glazier husband - and my experience bears that out).
posted by dbmcd at 8:50 AM on June 20, 2006

Two screens: I'm guessing OmieWise is talking about the screens that fit into the opening, for when you don't have a screen that covers the whole window.
posted by hattifattener at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2006

Well, my windows only have one screen each (which covers half the size of the window). On one wall, I opened one on the top, and the other on the bottom. And on the opposite side of the apartment, I opened it at the bottom. There's a nice breeze and the place is much cooler.

Thanks for your answers everyone!
posted by hooray at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2006

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