6 Mistakes That Are Making Your Home Feel Too Hot (and How to Fix Them)

Keeping your home cool during the hot summer months can be a challenge. Even with air conditioning, some homes just never seem to feel comfortable. If your house feels hotter than it should be, it’s likely due to one of these common mistakes:

1. Poor Insulation

One of the biggest reasons a home feels hot is due to inadequate insulation. Insulation acts as a barrier to prevent heat transfer between the inside and outside of your home. If your insulation is old, thin, or full of gaps and holes, hot outdoor air can easily transfer into your living spaces.

Some signs your home needs more insulation:

  • High cooling bills, even when you keep the thermostat set high
  • Parts of the house that are always hot, like attics or upstairs bedrooms
  • Being able to feel drafts or see daylight coming in around windows and doors

Improving your home’s insulation should be a top priority if it feels overly hot. Consider having an energy audit done to determine where insulation upgrades will have the biggest impact. Key areas to focus on include:

  • Attic – Attic insulation should be at least R-38. Dense packed cellulose or fiberglass batts work well.
  • Exterior walls – Insulate with batt insulation or foam. Aim for at least R-13.
  • Basement or crawlspace walls – Use R-10 to R-15 batts or spray foam.
  • Ductwork – Seal and insulate all ducts to prevent cooled air from escaping.

With proper insulation installation, your home will stay cooler and your energy bills will shrink.

2. Letting the Sun Bake Your Roof

For homes with dark shingle roofs, the roof surface can get extremely hot in the sun – up to 150°F! This heat radiates into your attic, heating up the air that then enters your living spaces.

The simplest solution is to coat your roof with reflective paint. White is ideal, but lighter shades of gray and bare metal can also help. The reflection helps keep roof temperatures down by up to 50°F.

If a new roof is in your future, choose light-colored shingles or metal roofing to minimize heat gain. Other options like “cool roofs” are coated to reflect more sunlight while still coming in darker hues.

3. Minimal Landscaping and Tree Cover

Plenty of lush landscaping around your home provides natural cooling power. Trees offer shade and release water vapor through their leaves. Meanwhile, shrubs, bushes, and green lawns help reduce ground temperatures.

Homes with bare, exposed exterior walls and minimal plantings absorb more heat from sunlight and re-radiate it back out. Large expanses of concrete or asphalt have a similar effect.

To benefit from plants’ cooling abilities:

  • Plant trees strategically to shade your roof, windows, patios, and driveways
  • Choose low-maintenance native species appropriate for your climate
  • Maintain lush, healthy greenery all around the exterior
  • Limit paved areas and use permeable pavers when possible

Trees that shed leaves in winter are ideal for seasonal shade. For year-round relief in hot climates, consider evergreens.

4. Blocked Intake Vents

For homes with central air, the air handler unit draws in outdoor air through intake vents, helping push out indoor air. If these vents are obstructed, the system must recirculate hot indoor air repeatedly.

Check that intake vents on the exterior of your home are not blocked by:

  • Plants, mulch, or soil
  • Debris like leaves or trash
  • Furniture, equipment, or other stored items
  • Snow during winter months

Also inspect the ductwork leading from the intake vents into the air handler unit. Make sure nothing is blocking the path or limiting air flow. Keeping your intake pathway clear improves efficiency and prevents your home from overheating.

5. Heat-Generating Appliances and Lights

All the appliances, electronics, and lighting fixtures in your home give off some heat as they operate. While each one may not seem like much, they can have a cumulative effect on indoor temperatures.

To minimize internal heat gains:

  • Switch incandescent bulbs for cooler, energy-efficient LEDs
  • Replace dated appliances with newer ENERGY STAR models
  • Turn off lights, TVs, computers and other devices when not in use
  • Use smart power strips to cut phantom load waste
  • Run clothes dryers, dishwashers and ovens at night instead of daytime
  • Cook on your grill or outdoor stove when possible
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible

Rethinking when and how you use heat-producing devices can noticeably reduce indoor heat.

6. Forced-Air System Issues

Forced-air HVAC systems distribute cooled air through ductwork throughout your home. But when ducts leak or have issues, your air conditioning system has to work harder, running excessively to try and cool things down.

Some common problems that lead to hot rooms include:

  • Leaky ducts in unconditioned attic spaces
  • Disconnected or damaged ductwork
  • Obstructions blocking vents and registers
  • Failing duct fans or blower motor
  • Unbalanced system with some rooms getting more air flow
  • Undersized air conditioner for your home’s size

If your system is unbalanced or has significant duct problems, certain rooms will always feel hotter. Have an HVAC technician inspect your ducts and air handler unit for needed repairs. Properly maintaining your forced-air system prevents unnecessary strain and cools your home effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cooling a Hot House

Still wondering why your home feels uncomfortably hot? Here are answers to some common questions on how to fix the issue:

How much insulation should I add to my attic?

For optimal cooling, attics should have R-38 or higher insulation. Dense packed cellulose or batts of fiberglass or mineral wool are good choices.

Should I close my vents on the upper floor to force more air downstairs?

No, closing vents can put strain on your HVAC system. Have a technician balance and adjust your duct system instead.

Will replacing my windows help my home feel cooler?

New energy efficient windows can help, but insulating and air sealing make a bigger difference. Do those first before investing in new windows.

Does ceiling fan direction matter for cooling?

Yes, ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise in the summer to create a cooling downdraft. Make sure any fans are set to the correct direction.

How much shade coverage is ideal around my home?

Aim for shading at least 50% of your roof area and 35-40% of your home’s wall surfaces to see a noticeable cooling effect.

How often should I have my A/C system maintained?

HVAC systems should be serviced at least once per year, preferably before summer cooling season. This improves performance and prevents breakdowns.

Will installing a radiant barrier help lower my cooling costs?

Radiant barriers can reduce heat transfer in hot climates. Install under your roof or on attic floors for best effect. Foil-sided sheathing also works well.

Should I use weather stripping around my doors?

Yes, weather stripping limits air leaks that allow hot outdoor air to penetrate your home. Use around doors, windows and attic hatches.

Will a whole house fan help my A/C work less?

Strategic use of a whole house fan at night can flush your home’s hot air out and reduce cooling demands the next day. Just close windows in the morning.

Is my air conditioner big enough for my home?

If some rooms are always hot, your A/C may be undersized. Have an HVAC pro evaluate your system’s BTU rating and tonnage for your square footage.

Keeping Cool Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

With soaring summer temperatures, it’s frustrating to be stuck in a house that just won’t cool down. But in many cases, the problem can be fixed with simple solutions like insulation upgrades, more shade trees, or ductwork repairs.

Tackling these common home cooling mistakes can help lower your energy bills while making your living spaces more comfortable. With a few smart improvements, you can finally relax in cool comfort this summer.


A hot home during summer is not only uncomfortable, but leads to higher energy bills and strain on your A/C system. The most common culprits making homes overly hot involve insufficient insulation, roof and landscaping issues, blocked air flow, and heat gain from appliances. With strategic upgrades and fixes, you can prevent heat buildup and keep your house nice and cool even on hot summer days. Focus on improving insulation, increasing shade, enhancing landscaping, and maintaining your HVAC system to maximize comfort and efficiency this cooling season. With a cool and comfortable home, you can fully enjoy the summer months ahead!