In sub-Saharan Africa, cooler houses would increase the coverage of insecticide-treated bednets, the primary malaria control tool. We examined whether improved ventilation, using windows screened with netting, cools houses at night and reduces malaria mosquito house entry in The Gambia. Identical houses were constructed, with badly fitting doors the only mosquito entry points. Two men slept in each house and mosquitoes captured using light traps. First, temperature and mosquito density were compared in four houses with 0, 1, 2 and 3 screened windows. Second, carbon dioxide (CO2), a major mosquito attractant, was measured in houses with (i) no windows, (ii) screened windows and (iii) screened windows and screened doors. Computational fluid dynamic modelling captured the spatial movement of CO2. Increasing ventilation made houses cooler, more comfortable and reduced malaria mosquito house entry; with three windows reducing mosquito densities by 95% (95%CI = 90–98%). Screened windows and doors reduced the indoor temperature by 0.6°C (95%CI = 0.5–0.7°C), indoor CO2 concentrations by 31% between 21.00 and 00.00 h and malaria mosquito entry by 76% (95%CI = 69–82%). Modelling shows screening reduces CO2 plumes from houses. Under our experimental conditions, cross-ventilation not only reduced indoor temperature, but reduced the density of house-entering malaria mosquitoes, by weakening CO2 plumes emanating from houses.