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Community and Q&A

Cold house in Southern California

maylaree | Posted in Interior Design on

Thanks to a giant ash tree in front (east side) of our Southern California house, we almost never need to run the air conditioning, which is great. Downside is, our house is uncomfortably cold even when it’s 75 outside. We’re thinking of remodeling. Is there anything we can do to use the natural climate to make the house warmer in the winter without making it warmer in the summer?

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  1. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #1

    SoCal is a big area, with many smaller climate zones. Can you be a bit more specific as to location (a ZIP code, perhaps)?

    What is the construction type, R-values, the type of foundation, etc.??

  2. SwitchgrassFarmer | | #2

    Might want to talk to some UC Cooperative Extension or California forestry folks about your ash tree. Emerald Ash Borer is spreading across the US. I don't know whether the mountains will halt it or not.

    Map here of its advance to date:

    Almost all of the ash trees on our PA farm are now dead.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    If your house is too cold, there are several possible remedies:

    1. You can either install a heating system (if your house doesn't have one), or you can turn up your thermostat if your house already has a heating system. This measure won't make your house any warmer in the summer.

    2. You can seal air leaks in your home's thermal envelope. This measure won't make your house any warmer in the summer (assuming that you still have a few windows that you can open when you want to).

    3. You can add insulation above your ceiling or in your walls. In most cases, this measure won't make your house any warmer in the summer.

    4. You can increase the size of any south-facing windows. This measure will only work if sunlight reaches the windows on cold winter days. If the windows under discussion are protected by a roof overhang that shades the windows from the summer sun (which is higher in the sky than winter sun), it may do more good than harm. However, the cost of this measure will be more than the value of the energy that is collected by the windows.

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