We’ve all been there. You put on your festive Christmas sweater and head over to friend or family member’s home for a holiday party. The house is packed with people. The ham or turkey is baking in the oven. A fire is burning merrily in the hearth, and pretty soon, you start to feel like you’re baking, too.
Now your Christmas sweater is really living up to its name. You’re wishing you had shorts and a t-shirt to change into. Even though it’s December, inside that house, it’s feeling more like Christmas in July.
It’s a miserable situation for both guests and hosts, and obviously one that you’d like to prevent when you do your own entertaining this holiday season. So how can you make sure your home stays comfortable during your holiday meals and parties? Well, it’s all about preparation!
Why Your Home Gets Overheated Over the Holidays
In order to prevent overheating, you need to understand why it often happens during holiday entertaining. First, there’s the human factor. Human beings generate heat at a rate of approximately 250 BTU/hour when at rest. The more active the people at your party are, the more heat they’ll generate.
When an HVAC system is designed for a home, the load calculation that determines the capacity of that system is based on the number of occupants. In general, for residential homes, the standard rule is to assume one occupant per bedroom, plus one. For example, for a three bedroom house, we’d calculate the load based on four occupants.
So, if your home has three bedrooms, the HVAC system is designed to work at its best when there are four people in your home. But what about during a holiday get-together when you’ve got thirty people at your house? Well, now you’ve got a lot more heat being generated than your HVAC system was designed for.
In addition to generating heat, human beings also add to the humidity inside of a building. This is because we release water vapor into the air when we breathe. And when the humidity goes up inside your home, it feels warmer and more uncomfortable. This is even if the temperature stays the same.
On top of the human factor, there’s also the issue of cooking. A lot of holiday entertaining involves food, whether it’s a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings or just hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
Using the oven and stove heats up the kitchen and adjacent rooms, plus cooking on the stove and running the dishwasher can also release a lot of humidity into the air. Again, the additional humidity can make your home feel warmer and more uncomfortable too.
See Also: Deck the Halls with Mold
Prepare to Keep Your Guests Cool and Comfortable
So how can you keep your home from overheating when it’s filled with holiday guests eating, drinking, and making merry? A little preparation can make a big difference.
First, pre-cool your home before your guests arrive. Assuming that it’s cold outside and you’re using the heat, you should turn down your thermostat about 3-5 degrees a couple of hours before your guests arrive. That way, when your house fills up with people, they’ll be bringing the temperature back up to a comfortable level rather than overheating it.
If the weather is warm enough that your heat isn’t running anyway—which sometimes happens over the holidays here in the Tennessee Valley—you may want to switch on the air conditioning for a short time to cool down your home by a couple of degrees.
If the weather outside is cold and dry, you may also want to consider opening a few windows slightly. This can help release some of the humidity generated by your party guests. It also is good with keeping the temperatures down and lets in the air fresh. Of course, if you do this, you should turn off the heat as long as the windows are open. You don’t want to waste energy heating the neighborhood!
Finally, pre-cook as much as possible. Try to get as much cooking done before your guests arrive as you can. The oven in particular can really heat up your house. Getting your baking done beforehand is a big step towards keeping your home comfortable.
When you’re using the stove, make sure to turn on the exhaust fan. This can help remove the heat and humidity generated by cooking from your home. It’s also helpful to wait until the party is over to run your dishwasher.
Consider Other Heat Sources in Your Home
While people and cooking are the main things heating up your home during a holiday party, you may want to consider the effects of other potential heat sources in your home. For instance, if your fireplace puts out a lot of heat and you really want to have it going during the party. Then you may want to pre-cool your house even more.
Check out your overhead lighting too. Some types of overhead lighting put out a great deal of heat. While this can be nice on a cold winter morning when it’s just your family at home, during a party it can make rooms uncomfortably hot.
You may want to use lamps or other light sources in those rooms and keep the overhead lights off. Or you may be able to switch out the lightbulbs in those fixtures for ones that generate less heat, at least while you’re entertaining.
Nobody wants their guests to be uncomfortable. Taking some simple steps to prepare can help to ensure that you and your guests stay merry and bright through all your holiday entertaining.