Well summer is just around the corner. It got above 60 degrees for the first time since we bought this house. At 8,000 square feet it’s going to be impossible to air condition this place and still keep it affordable. We are going to need to do a summer test to make sure we can keep it cool.
We are learning a lot about how Victorian houses are designed. Modern houses you tell them how many bedrooms, bathrooms, etc you want, and a draftsman makes some blueprints to fit it in the rectangle space that is provided. In the Victorian age they didn’t have the technology to bend the environment to your will. So, they did a better job of making the housework to make living more comfortable.
With no electric and gas lighting being new being able to see in the house was very important. Windows to the rescue. The more you wanted your house lit the more windows you had. It’s not as simple as slapping a large number of windows on all the outside walls. The angles, position and size are carefully thought out. You look at this house and every floor has so many windows that you can look in one side of the house and see out the other side. Even on an overcast day we can open all the drapes and the house is so light you can read a book in every room without issue.
Using the sun.
The big wrap around porches on the front of the house is not just for relaxing on a warm summer day. In the winter when the sun is lower in the sky the massive windows let in as much light as possible. This helps heat the house in the day. As we move to summer and the sun is higher in the sky this is where the wrap around porch shines. It starts shading the large windows keeping the sun off them. Keeping the house cooler than it would be otherwise.
The wind is your friend.
Opening all the windows provides huge breeze ways. That goes across the house. The grand staircase opening acts like a large flue pushing air up to the 2nd floor. The back hallway and staircases pushing fresh air to all the rooms letting it circulate around the house. The 3rd floor windows allowing heat to escape the house creating a vacuum to pull air from the lower floors.
In the winter heavy drapes over the windows help prevent drafts. Closing interior doors acts like a damper on the flue slowing the air flow also keeping the heat at the core of the house. Heat still rising in the grand staircase pushing air back down the back staircase. Keeping the air from getting stale and evening out the heat. All this saving on the heating bill but still allowing the house to breath.
Our summer test
For some ungodly reason someone decided to remove all the doors from the first floor and every single screen on the house. So that the house is stuck in limbo land. This winter the house was hard to heat because there was no way to restrict the air flow or where the heat is in the house. We did the best we could by putting plastic on all the windows and patching any holes we found in the house.
I did manage to find 8 screens that I could install and a few temporary screens. I spread these out throughout the floors in the house. We ended up with gale force winds in 1/2 of the first floor and second. The top floor it was sucking air out of the house like a huge vacuum. Still large parts of the house weren’t getting any airflow at all.
Work to be done
So, it looks like I have my work cut out for me. The screens we did find are rotten. This will be an easy and cheap fix. The rest of the screens are going to run around $20 to $40 each. Doesn’t sound like a lot till you start figuring out how many windows we have in the house.
Also, on my to-do list is get some doors installed. I’m going to try to find a place that sells refurbished old doors. You can get them cheaper than new ones. Considering we need 9 doors on the first floor, cheaper is better. Not sure what we are going to do with the pocket doors that are inside the wall.
Yep, a new project that is going to be a mound of cash to fix. Seems like it never ends in this house. In the end it’ll be worth it. I can’t wait till we have our first guest stay with us. So, we can share this wonderful house. If you would like to help us fix it up our donation page is here.