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Q&A: Doesn’t It Get Stuffy And Hot in Tiny House Sleeping Lofts?

If you’ve been looking into tiny house sleeping lofts and wondering it wouldn’t be stuffy and hot up there you’re in the right place.

I like answering tiny house questions I receive from Facebook and Email here on the blog because then everyone (including you) can benefit from it.

Today’s question is from Michael and you can read it yourself below:

Alex, I love some of the tiny house designs in your newsletter, but one issue I never see mentioned is the terrible heat problem of sleeping in a loft with no air conditioning. Anyone who has gone up in an attic of a home in the summer knows you could not live in one of these small homes.

This is a great question and I’m glad he brought it up. (Thanks Mike!)

Isn’t It Too Stuffy & Hot in Tiny House Sleeping Lofts?

Dee Williams in her Tiny House Loft

© PADTinyHouses.com and Faircompanies.com

Well, I can introduce you to Dee Williams, who has been living in her tiny house (with a loft) for more than 7 years now.

But since she’s in Portland, OR heat is not too much of an issue for her.

So what if you live in somewhere like Florida? Or even New York in the summer. It gets hot.

Here’s how to stay cool in a tiny house loft during the heat (and I invite you to add your tips and tricks in the comments too):

How to Stay Cool in Tiny House Sleeping Lofts in Summer Heat

  • Use an air conditioner.
  • Use a fan to help circulate the air inside.
  • Heavily insulate your tiny home’s roof when building.
  • Beware of the clothing you choose.
  • Adjust your bedding for summer.
  • Eat foods that are cooling (see below).

Another option, too, is to sleep downstairs instead of in your loft during the summer because since warm air rises you’re obviously going to be cooler downstairs on your futon, murphy bed, or your couch.

What If You Don’t Want A/C?

No problem! Here are some tips I came up with that will help you keep cool even without A/C:

  • Use a fan in your loft while you sleep.
  • Invest in silk or satin pillowcases and sheets because these fabrics help keep you cooler.
  • Wear clothing that’s light and airy when you go to sleep.
  • Avoid using too many blankets and consider using very thin blankets if it’s really warm.

Foods and Herbs That Keep Your Body Cool During the Summer

I thought it was important to remind you about some foods that help keep your body cool so you can try them out during the summer (especially your last meal before bed) to help you feel cool before you go to sleep.

  • Watermelon fruit.
  • Fresh peppermint (on your salad or smoothie maybe).
  • Minted green tea.
  • Mint chocolate.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Fresh fruits (cold apples, bananas, pineapple, etc.)
  • Sip from a cold glass of water before bed.

Do You Know Any Tricks, Tips or ‘Hacks’ For Staying Cool?

If you have any suggestions or tips that I didn’t cover on here we’d all absolutely love to read them in the comments below.

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 36 comments… add one }
  • alice h May 30, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Plan for cross drafts and decent ventilation. Open a window at the highest point and lowest point of your house to let cooler night air in and let out hotter air. Won’t make as much difference in long runs of seriously hot weather but definitely extends your comfort season as long as nights are cooler. Keeping the windows closed and the sun out with blinds or curtains during the hot part of the day and not opening them until the air is cooler helps if your house is well insulated. Otherwise you’re drawing hotter air inside rather than holding on to the cooler night air.

    If you can’t move into the shade for the hot weather you might be able to make a shade cover, sort of like a tent, leaving at least a foot or two of space between it and your tiny house. Shade covers work well for single story tiny houses and trailers too. They can also get horribly hot and stuffy, even without a loft.

    You can also sleep outside in a screen house tent when it’s really hot. You could probably set up supports for one of those jungle hammock tents along the side of your tiny house.

  • Maggie May 30, 2014, 3:34 pm

    Definitely park it in the shade. That is the beauty of these tiny houses on wheels. It gets hot where I live but my loft isn’t that hot yet. We’ll see how it is in the height of summer.

  • LaMar Alexander LaMar May 30, 2014, 3:43 pm

    Just like any house if it has lots of glass an poor insulation and sits in the sun it will turn into an oven in summer. You can cool any house using some simple methods.

    1- Overhangs and porches over windows and on the sunny side.
    2- Window shades or blinds to keep the sin from penetrating.
    3- proper insulation reduces heat penetration and cold loss.
    4- park or build in a shaded spot using trees for natural shading.
    5- passive roof turbine and eve vents to allow heat to escape.
    6- Cross ventilation from the cool side through a window or door and a vent on the hot side to allow heat to escape.
    7- fans directed on the place you sit or sleep. Window fans on the cool side to bring in cool fresh air.
    8- window vents in lofts and fans directed at loft beds.

    If that isn’t enough to keep you cool then look into evaporative cooling in low humidity areas.

    LaMar

  • Beth DeRoos May 30, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Actually having shade trees that shade a tiny house is #1 in summer as is having skylights that open both in the loft areas but in the main living area as well. This allows the hot air that rises to escape.

  • Sally May 30, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Seventh generation Florida girl here, and you’re better off sleeping downstairs if you’re not going to use a real AC unit. There aren’t always breezes conveniently floating in the windows, and it can get very stuffy and still up under a large tree. In the old days, we used attic fans to draw hot air out, and “cool” air in a few windows in the bedrooms. Before that, we had a large industrial (and seriously noisy) fan that was in a back bedroom, and it pulled the hot air OUT. Few people slept with an actual fan blowing on them that I can recall, at least in the country.
    Tiny houses have a further problem because the kitchen is not a separate room, and heat from cooking adds to the misery. We stopped cooking after supper, and nobody went in the kitchen after dishes were washed around 8 pm.
    To live in a hot humid climate these days in a TH, just get a small room-sized AC. God knows we would have if we’d had a choice. They make portable units now, too, that just need a window vent so you don’t “lose” the view from a window. I hear they are noisy, but I’d rather have some white noise and be comfortable and fit to be around the next day than endure bad nights tossing and turning in a sweat box and wake up miserable.

  • Anthony McCarthy May 31, 2014, 8:03 pm

    I don’t know if it would work but I’d buy a white tarp big enough to cover the roof and cover it for the summer. My brother put a white rubber roof on his shed dormer and it cooled things off incredibly. Maybe on the South side, as well. Or park it in the shade if it’s mobile.

  • Greg Scott May 31, 2014, 8:49 pm

    The very most effective solution other than placing the roof in shade or
    painting or covering the top roof with the reflective color of white is
    to design the loft to be optionally a sealed off 2nd floor accessable via
    something like a trap door etc. Then after you have exaggerated the
    insulation in the roof, you should close the trap door and seal the loft
    from the 1st floor. This increases the effective R value to the lower main
    floor to somewhere up in the 80’s or 90’s. Of course you have to sleep
    on the main floor with or without ventilation. Other than exhaust fans
    that could pull the breeze over your body, you could sleep nude under
    a ceiling fan. It is very important to have airflow over your skin. If you
    do not use a ceiling fan, then use a smallish 9 to 14 inch desk type fan
    blowing directly on you. The perspiration on your skin will evaporate to
    help keep you cool. Think about the ancient Egyptians with the slaves and
    palm leaves that waved them over the kings to keep them cool as they
    slept.

  • Colleen May 31, 2014, 10:04 pm

    Watch what you eat in the summer time. Starches will up your body heat. Put a bowl of ice in front of the fan will also help to cool you off.

  • Susan Dunaway May 31, 2014, 10:13 pm

    I learned a great trick. If you have a wood stove with a blower, you can place a metal bucket inside with a bag of ice in it. Turn on the blower and you’ll be cool as a cucumber in no time. I had a friend who sold wood stoves. I walked into his shop on a blisteringly hot, humid Kentucky August and was thrilled with the AC. It was coming from one single wood stove and it was a large showroom! I could hardly believe it.

    All the other suggestions are great with extra insulation, using a fan to draw the cool air thru, but seriously, if you have the right set up, this wood stove thing was amazing. His electric bill was lower than my folks house. The ice lasted for a couple of days. And one last thing, I guess it’s from using ice, but the air had those negative ions that make you feel healthy and happy. Hope that helps chill some of you down.

  • Eula Irene Bunting May 31, 2014, 11:39 pm

    I was online and saw some home maid air conditioners that would be excellent for this type of living. Do search them and do it for yourself, extremely cheap and best in small places hope this helps you all.

  • Marsha Cowan June 1, 2014, 12:02 am

    I,had a small fan in one of my loft windows blowing out, and at night I closed all the windows downstairsso the fan could draw in cool air from the other loft window straight across me. I slept like a log all summer!

  • coffeewitholiver June 1, 2014, 12:45 am

    Well, I’m late to the party, and there are already a ton of good suggestions, but here’s my 2 cents from experience:

    Natural shade from trees, or put up a canopy/tarp/whatever to shade the south side of the house.

    Don’t let the sun hit your windows directly ~ use exterior shades to help keep the glass cool.

    Keep air moving with a fan.

    Insulate, insulate, insulate!

    Design the loft with windows that open on at least two sides ~ three is better.

    Eat light foods like raw or lightly steamed vegetables, fresh in-season fruit, low-fat foods, cold sandwiches, salads, etc, and eat earlier in the evening rather than later.

    Sleep outside ; )

    Parker

  • Ruth June 1, 2014, 1:43 am

    Here is a trick I’ve used when traveling in hot climates.

    Take a light weight blanket (i used a sarong) and get it wet. Wring it out and lay it over you to fall asleep. I did that, along with a fan running in the room and it worked out perfectly. Cooled me as I fell asleep and just about the time I would start to feel like I was going to get TOO cooled off, the sarong would be dry and I slept very very well all night. And I HATE heat and live somewhere where the nights are RARELY about 50-60 degrees. So to be comfy enough to sleep even though it was stupid hot even at night means something was working!

  • Sam W. June 1, 2014, 10:45 am

    When building, people use insulation that deters conductive and convective heat loss/gain. But don’t forget the third type of heat transfer–infrared radiation! Using insulation that blocks infrared radiation can dramatically reduce heat loss and gain. This website has more information on this subject http://www.radiantbarrier.com/physics-of-foil.htm.

  • alice h June 1, 2014, 11:53 am

    I’m not on Facebook, can’t reply up there to the comments on silk and satin so I’ll do it here.
    Silk is a specific material available in different weaves and weights, satin is a weave type available in different fabrics. Not all silk fabric is light and thin, some can be quite heavy. Satin refers to the weaving method that results in a specific shiny surface. Linen is better than cotton for summer, especially a lighter weight fabric, and makes great long lasting bedding but can be quite expensive. Some notes on the environmental impacts of various fabrics can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/living/stuff/guide-greener-fibers.asp

  • Chris brown June 1, 2014, 1:50 pm

    If you have a house with a permanent foundation how about adding an old fashioned enclosed porch? Many of the older small home in my area have them, and before A/C was generally available, people just slept out on the porch when it was hot. In vacation cabins out in the country they were often just screened but in the city windows gave extra security and extended use into the cooler months. They are such a great amenity I am surprised you see so few modern small homes with them.

  • david June 1, 2014, 3:36 pm

    and i did…as you suggest, try using thin blankets when it was really warm, but found through a lengthy process of trial and error that i was much cooler without any blankets whatsoever…

  • di June 1, 2014, 4:21 pm

    We just open our skylights.

  • di June 1, 2014, 4:27 pm

    Sleep in a portable screenhouse.

  • david June 1, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Also.. if you’re wearing fur lined hunters cap like the one’s they wear in the Artic and some parts of Alaska…it’s a good idea on particulary hot nights, especially if you live in the Mojave region or there a bouts to consider turning the fur lined fold down ear muffs up…or you may consider removing the cap altogether and replacing it with a light cotton assembledge…

  • Todd June 1, 2014, 5:04 pm

    Brazilian or Mayan hammock. These are canvas or a fine springy mesh, hang like a banana with no spreader bars. I sleep in them year round: will never choose a bed again. Usually they are too cold where I live, so I suspend insulation from below. But in hot weather with no insulation underneath, they are cooler than any bed. And they fold out of the way like a drape against a wall when not in use, perfect for tiny spaces.

  • gus g June 1, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Really necessary conversation with many terrific suggestions. The double canopy or “second roof” cover works if you have the materials, site suitability, and structural members to complete one. Friends in western Arkansas put their RVs (notoriously under insulated) in a ‘car port’ type structure during the summer. Also, search the web for swamp/DIY ice-chest/fan coolers. Even a small one will put enough cool air, long enough, to allow a cool night’s sleep…and the expense is minimal. Just be aware of the moisture these AC units add to your house. Thanks to all for really good ideas and comments. gus

  • John Page Jr June 3, 2014, 1:57 am

    when it is hot out I learned to close the house up and pull the shades down in the morning about 10:00 am or when the temperature out side is equel to the temperature inside the house and do not open it up until the temperature in side the house is hoter then the temperature outside. If your house is insulated really well this will keep the inside of the house cooler then the outside most of the day. If the temperature is in the 50’s at night by morning the inside your house will be the same and if you have good insulation when you close the house up when the temperature is like 60% inside and out it will stay cooler inside then out well into the late afternoon. You need to get a themometer that gives you a good inside and outside temperature don’t just quess. That way instead of the inside of your house being 90% or hoter from noon till 8:00 in the evening it may not reach 80% untill say 4:00 pm in the after noon and that would be still cooler then the 90% it is outside. So you would only have to indure the 90% heat for say two or three hours in the evening instead of from noon till 8:00 pm.

  • Barbara S June 3, 2014, 12:14 pm

    I saw a really cheap neat idea on Pintrest….homemade air-conditioner for YES..$8.00……styrofoam cooler, 2 dryer vent elbows, a cheap fan and some frozen bottles of water……..I have heard it really works……sure beats spending a lot of money for an air-conditioner that would also use a lot of electricity…!!!!

  • david June 12, 2014, 6:05 pm

    yes, great suggestions from Alex..get rid of heavy blankets.

  • david June 12, 2014, 6:07 pm

    …and remember to switch off the electric blanket.

  • Lisa September 8, 2015, 8:15 pm

    Alex: Is there a reason, aside from aesthetics, that people continue to use the gable roof design with shed dormers only in the sleeping loft portion of the tiny home? I would think it would feel much more spacious to have the entire space roofed with a shallow pitch gable as in the dormers or a full shed roof or even a slight barrel vault. That would ease the transition from stair/ladder into the loft. just wondering.

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