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Brian Kent
11-23-2015, 2:50 PM
We dwell in two primary rooms in our house. One is a downstairs room away from the sun. It is the coolest room in the summer and not too bad in the winter. The other is the upstairs bedroom with a triple window and a sliding glass door to a patio. The windows face South and West. It can be 20 hotter than the downstairs room, even after using insulated curtains. We have a ceiling fan in both rooms.

We are exploring several long-term solutions for the upstairs South-West bedroom:

1) a ductless mini-split AC/Heater
2) replacing windows with reflective glass (We have never seen add-on reflective coating without bubbles so we are not doing that)
3) Adding attic insulation
4) installing shade awnings over the windows

Each of these cost several hundred to several thousand dollars, so I want to assess where the greatest heat exchange is happening. How can I determine the greatest problems?

Thanks for your experience.

Brian Kent
11-23-2015, 2:57 PM
Other factoids:
We have all high-efficiency bulbs.
When windows are shut, we detect no drafts.
We have electricity only - no gas.
We use AC or heating less than 30 days per year and have a pretty wide tolerance. Our comfort range is 60-80.
The AC / Heat-pump has been recently serviced.

Mel Fulks
11-23-2015, 3:00 PM
I would go for attic insulation and styro foam cut to fit in window and covered with decorative fabric,cheap and same or more R value as thermal pane window. Easy to hang or push in and easy to remove.

Jerome Stanek
11-23-2015, 3:10 PM
See if there are any film installers I worked for a drug store chain that had the reflective film put on and there was no bubbles. I had them install it on my patio door and it was fine no bubbles for 20 years until I replaced the door.

Lee Schierer
11-23-2015, 4:20 PM
If your attic is low on insulation, that is probably the lowest cost fastest return on investment you can make for your house. As far as limiting the heat gain from the sun, if you have a forced air system you can run the fan on low to pull the warm air from the room to other parts of the house. I also am total electric and running the HVAC fan on low helps make our house uniform in temperature from room to room.

Replacing the windows or adding a low "e" film to the doors and windows would be my recommendation. Speak with the company that gives you a quote on applying a film to your glass and have them state in writing that there will be no bubbles and make it clear that you will not pay if there are. There are tax incentives and rebates in many areas for upgrading insulation and glazing with energy efficient products.

Installing shade awnings will come with their own set of problems and will change the look of your house.

A mini-split system will help but comes with the penalty of increased utility costs.

Stan Calow
11-23-2015, 4:20 PM
We have similar problem, and tinkering with insulation and windows didn't seem like effective way to deal with it. In our case, its strictly a matter of hot air rises, with no way to change return air duct work. If the goal is being comfortable using the room, I'd go with the split window unit, or even just a small window AC unit.

Mark Blatter
11-24-2015, 8:36 AM
We have a similar problem. We just put a tint on the windows and have no complaints at all about the job the guy did. We put the darkest tint on our bedroom windows which face southwest and allow the most sun during the afternoon. We keep the bedroom door closed so as to limit the heat going into the room from it rising throughout the house. The final piece was we had a cold air return installed in our bedroom ceiling.

In hindsight, I should have had a cold air return installed just out side the bedroom door at the top of the stairs too. That would have returned the build up of heat to rest of the house and gained some efficiency.

It isn't perfect by any stretch. I am in the family room right now where it is about 5-7 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. We are fortunate in that we also have a gas fireplace in the room that we use in the winter rather then run the furnace more. Puts the heat directly where it helps the most without heating up the hot rooms.

Shawn Pixley
11-24-2015, 12:34 PM
It is a little hard to offer very specific advice without knowing the exact configuration. I general, I favor prevention of heat gain rather than remediation. Being that the problem is on the southwest side and heat is the larger problem, I think that solar gain control is the primary issue. I would favor insulation and window insulation / shading.

What would help is answers to the following:
Approximate year of the house construction
existing wall thickness (2x4 vs 2x6) / insulation / siding
roof configuration (flat / gable) / insulation / roofing material / access
ability to shade the windows (awnings vs trees)
willingness to consider alternate solutions (insulated pocket shutters, etc...)

I would insulate walls and roof, replace windows, and shade wall / roof before looking at A/C. PM me for a more detailed conversation.

Rick Potter
11-24-2015, 1:57 PM
Can't quite picture it Brian, but if solar gain through a window is a problem, I would suggest an awning (maybe one of those roll ups?) on the outside. You could try placing something over the window for a few days to see if it helps.

In our house, we use ceiling fans in most rooms. They really help.

Myk Rian
11-24-2015, 7:03 PM
2) replacing windows with reflective glass (We have never seen add-on reflective coating without bubbles so we are not doing that)
If it's done right, there are no bubbles. You spritz it with a mild soapy water. Dawn works great.
Don't take your time if the sun is shining on the window.

Jerome Stanek
11-25-2015, 7:08 AM
The film installers use a slip spray made just for that but windex or other glass cleaner works as will dish soap

Kent Adams
11-25-2015, 7:31 AM
I use bronze tinted film on my greenhouse in North Carolina to control heat and it works very well. This is the same type of tint used in office buildings to control heat. The bronze film reflects the sun's rays, like a mirror, reducing the heat into the structure. No bubbles and I self installed and I'm no expert on installing this stuff.