Today, we opened the windows for the Spring Window Dance

We perform the Window Dance at my house.
That is, I manipulate my windows, window quilts, window shades, and drapes to moderate the temperature of the house.

It depends on what's going on outside.

Spring is the most challenging season by far. I NEED to air out the house. I want to warm up the house but not too much. I don't want the furnace to run any more than it has too.

In Spring, the weather swings back and forth wildly; too cool then very mild and even hot.
Should I open the windows and let that fresh, warm air inside, along with all that sunshine?

If I let in too much heat, I risk raising the temperature of the house overall. This is excellent for saving money on home heating oil. It's very bad for going into Summer's heat with a warm house.

For cooling purposes over the Summer, it's best to enter the season with a COLD house, because then it takes longer for the house to get hot inside. Likewise, it's best to enter the Winter season with the hottest house I can get.

Our house is made of concrete block under vinyl siding so I do have enough thermal mass to make this work.

So, the windows are open and the furnace is turned off. I'll let the house warm up (saving money on home heating oil) but not too much. I have to watch the thermostat. If it gets much over 75 degrees, I have to close up shop and keep that lovely warming sun outside because I don't want to get warm too fast.

This is where the window shades come in. With shades, you can open your doublehung windows and use the open portion to catch the breeze and still block some solar gain in the top part of the window.

Once the sun sets, I have to make a decision: close up tight to retain heat? (windows, shades, window quilts, insulated drapes)
Or, stay open a while longer and let the temperature descend a few degrees internally, but not too much so the furnace comes on.

Spring is hard.
Autumn is easy: catch and retain as much heat as you can!
Winter is easy: catch and retain as much heat as you can!
Summer is easy: keep the heat outside where it belongs!

Spring though.

What do you do?

Teresa from Hershey

mountainmoma's picture

Here, the way the seasons are, there are rarely days the windows can be left open.

In the summer, the windows are closed all day and opened at night to air out the house.

In winter, the windows are closed. I get heat better that way, even on a sunny day, the air temperature outside is cold, but the sun hitting the south facing windows will heat up the house with the windows closed.

Fall is overall hotter than spring here. Fall is a time that windows can be open during some days.

Spring, we dont realy have much of a spring. We get fake springs, warms up in January enough to make fruit trees bloom, then it is back to cold and about half the time, freezes those buds right off. Spring is not as cold as winter, yep. But, mostly in spring, the air is cold and the windows are closed to keep the heat in. A few days here and there, we can air out the house for a couple of hours. Then, summer comes on, like someone threw a switch ! Fall is Indian summer, long, pleasant warmth.

Unless it is cold all day (as in under 55F) I suggest that you open the windows to sun and air from 11:30 to 3:30 then close windows but leave drapes open till 6:00 then close drapes and get snugged in for the night. If the windows dance to the rhythm of the Day and keep good time, the house should equalize within and without to the ambient air temp. Then let the space fronted by the western windows collect radiant heat during late afternoon. Sun shining through the glass will heat the interior just as it does in a closed car. Closing the drapes near sundown will help retain the late afternoon heat within as the air outside cools down. Adjust as needed if a sudden cold front sweeps in at midday.

Teresa, when I saw the headline for this topic I thought I would be reading about some kind of druidic spring equinox rite:)
The spring window dance clearly depends a lot on climate and house style. Here in Tas we have a long, fairly chilly spring, so keep the windows closed except in the middle of the day when it is warm enough to enjoy a breeze. I live in a weatherboard house which is well-insulated but still warms up and cools down quickly. I know that on a hot summer's day I can open the front window and the back door to get a through breeze, but need to shut the front window and curtains by 11am when the sun hits that window. I can leave the back door open until about one, when the sun swings around to that side of the house. Even on the hottest days where I am I can create enough of a breeze with the window dance that it is worth keeping some of them open to create a cross draught.
I guess the real point of all of these stories is that it takes a close knowledge of your climate, your house, its orientation and your own needs to carefully orchestrate a comfortable indoors temperature without resorting to air-conditioning, and using heating sparingly. It's a bit of a lost art, and maybe a druidical rite after all, working with the sun and wind to heat and cool your house:)

alice's picture

"I guess the real point of all of these stories is that it takes a close knowledge of your climate, your house, its orientation and your own needs to carefully orchestrate a comfortable indoors temperature without resorting to air-conditioning, and using heating sparingly. It's a bit of a lost art, and maybe a druidical rite after all, working with the sun and wind to heat and cool your house:)"

I really like this comment Blueday Jo. There is an art to managing the comfort of the house for the inhabitants, temperature and ventilation by working with its aspect, the weather, knowledge of climate etc., all the things you say. Sometimes I spend the time learning how to do these things, just a few minutes of observation and experimenting over weeks and years and just gradually building up my practice and I can't necessarily even describe what I'm learning and then someone else talks about it and I can say -- oh yes that, I've been learning a bit of that myself. Hooray for the ancient druidic art of inhabitation.

alice's picture

Here I'm organizing all the things that need the sunlight most urgently round the back of the house which is southeast facing. Shuffling the finished compost out of the bin around the trees and shrubs I mulch. I just potted up some herbaceous peony roots that I found in what is nowadays a dark corner and shuffled that big pot into the 'full sun' zone. Sowing stuff like salad leaves into pots in the cold frame. Feeding some of the hungrier indoor plants now the daylight is long enough for them to start needing the extra nutrients. Gingerly giving the first watering of the year to aloes now they've made it through the winter. Assessing the bridle paths to see what is passable by bike now the days are not so short and rainy. Bringing in daffodil flowers for their beautiful scent and colour. Planting out pignuts in places they are likely to thrive. Down to one hot water bottle per person from the midwinter high of two to three each. Drapes and windows open when I'm home when the sun is shining to air the house out but still shut evenings and at night here. We have electric storage heaters that use the concrete mass of the house as a thermal store so I don't turn those down for a while yet as I use the extra heat to chase the damp out when it's fine enough to open the windows. The old saying here is 'ne'r cast a clout til May is out', explained to me as a child as don't actually chuck/pass on any of your winter warm stuff until after May as it can still frost right up til then.

Also usually the oaks are getting ready to leaf this time of year, but we've had an exceptionally wet winter and it's looking like the ash trees will leaf first. The rhyme is 'If the oak is out before the ash then we shall have a splash. If the ash if out before the oak then we shall have a soak." so it looks like the wet weather may continue.