Tag Archives: cold

Why is my house acting like a refrigerator?

GE nor Mabe built your house!  But I have lived in two beautiful homes with boveda ceilings and nice architectural details and for at least two months of the year, I had to go outside to get warm. No fireplace or electric heater could warm it up. The minute I turned off the heat, the room returned quickly to refrigerator temperatures.

So what’s going on?

Mass. Homes in San Miguel are most often built with stone, tabique/bricks, adobe and concrete masonry of different types. A lot of mass with no exterior insulation. As the temperatures drop in the fall and winter the dense heat absorbing mass goes to work. Your body radiates its heat out and the walls, floors and ceilings suck it up. Just like cooling coils of your refrigerator. To make matters worse, the homes in our area are often built completely connected without airspace between houses so the mass just increases….it is insatiable. Anyone living next door or even two doors down from a remodel knows that the masses are connected without the sound deadening and insulating quality of air space. Who’s banging on our walls ?

Sun. The only savior is the sun or massive amounts of gas and electricity. In the Centro, the sun isn’t so easy to come by and if you have some south facing windows then you are probably huddled in front of one of them during the winter.

Rules for Buying a New Home. If you haven’t bought yet you can minimize the “refrigerator effect” by following a few simple rules. Ask your professional Realtor to show you houses on the north side of streets that run predominately east west. The top of maps are almost always north. Your house should face the bottom of the map if possible. The street creates a little distance so the house across the street, in front of the lower winter sun does not cast a shadow on your home.  This will make all the difference. Nothing can replace the San Miguel sun.

I live in a home in upper Independencia, it is on the north side of the street, it has south facing windows and doors, it is cold in the early morning winter and quickly warms up as the sun floods in through the windows. It is not a “solar” house but it has very straightforward no nonsense design features that make the house comfortable all year long. My new neighbor bought her home without thinking of any of these concerns but happily is on my side of the street. Her “gut” feeling when she saw the house may have told her about the southern light and the suns warmth she would get to enjoy. She got lucky but you don’t need luck. You have information which is better.

Okay….so you fell in love with a house that doesn’t follow my “rules” and will have some cold rooms. Now what do you do? See my upcoming blog on clerestories and getting the most out of what little sun you have.