stairs to second floor of home

What will it take to cool down that notoriously hot upstairs?

We’ve got the answers you need.


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August 27, 2019

You probably notice it the most when you head up the stairs from your living room or kitchen that has been nice and cool, thanks to your air conditioner. With every step, it seems to get a full degree warmer, until you are at the top of your staircase in a stuffy and sweaty second floor. What gives? You’ve had your cooling system on all day, why is the upstairs still too hot?

This is a common problem for many Vermonters with two story homes, and many of our customers ask us “Why are top floor buildings hotter than other floors?”. So what can be done about these hot bedrooms, and hot second floors? Though you may have a fully functioning air conditioner, we often find the problem is more than just replacing your AC unit. At EnergySmart Vermont, we specialize in locating these underlying issues, to help keep your upstairs as cool as the other side of the pillow!

Reasons For A Hot Second Floor

Before we get into all the underlying things that may be affecting your overall building performance, do a double check of all your windows and air conditioning vents. Are all the windows closed, and the vents open? It may seem rudimentary, but it is an easily overlooked mistake.

When it gets down to it, your upstairs is too hot because heat has infiltrated your home. This can happen for a couple of reasons:

  1. Existing air holes & gaps in your attic, windows, & building materials

  2. Insufficient wall & attic insulation

Did you know that your attic can reach temperatures upwards of 140ºF? The job of your insulation is not just to keep the heat in during the winter, but also to keep the heat out in the summer! These two issues affect your building envelope, or the barrier that separates your home from the unconditioned air outside. 

 In addition to these building envelope problems, lapses in your air conditioner and ductwork could be preventing your cool, conditioned air from reaching the second floor. Common cooling system issues include:

  1. Leaky or poorly designed ductwork

  2. Improperly sized cooling equipment

Leaks in your ductwork can account for up to a 30% loss in the cold air you depend on throughout each New England summer. This means more than just a sweaty and uncomfortable home, but also unnecessarily high heating and cooling costs! It is also a common misconception that “bigger is better” when it comes to air conditioners. An air conditioner that is too large will turn on and off too quickly, wasting energy (and electricity costs) each time it kicks on. An air conditioner that is too small will be running constantly, spiking your electricity costs and incurring unnecessary wear and tear. 

Fixing A Hot Second Floor

Bringing the second floor of your Vermont home back down to “livable” temperatures begins with finding the root cause. So how can you find the invisible leaks and insulation lapses in your home? With an EnergySmart Vermont energy audit. When you get in touch with our home comfort experts and schedule an energy audit, we will assess your home from top to bottom to determine where you are in need of air sealing and insulation upgrades. Our energy audit includes:

  • A blower door test to determine total air leakage

  • Infrared camera scans to locate air leaks & insulation issues

  • Safety tests on your heating & cooling system

  • Inspection of your lighting for additional energy savings

After your audit is complete, you will receive a list of recommended updates that will not only increase your homes overall comfort and performance but save you money each month on your energy bills throughout the year! These upgrades can include our professional insulation and air sealing services, as well as energy efficient heat pump installation for homes that will benefit from supplementing their existing air conditioners. 

Stay Cool This Summer with EnergySmart Vermont!

Though the technology and techniques we use to keep your home performing at its best may be state of the art, our approach to customer satisfaction is old school. At EnergySmart Vermont, our only goal is to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. So if you are tired of sweating out the hot summer nights in your stuff upstairs bedroom, schedule an energy audit with the pros at EnergySmart Vermont!

Keep your upstairs temperatures down where they belong this summer. Schedule an energy audit with Vermont's trusted home performance contractor! Call EnergySmart Vermont today at 802-476-3549 or contact us.