Once upon a time folks had plenty of ways to keep their homes cool, and none of them involved air conditioning. They understood that hot air rises and knew how to use this to their advantage.
Here are eleven considerations when trying to cool your home.
It’s better to prevent your house from over-heating than trying to cool it after the fact.
1. Plant deciduous trees on the south and/or west sides of your house. In the winter, when you want the sun to help warm your home, the leaves will be gone, allowing an open path.
2. Place awnings over the windows with the most solar gain. Awnings are great because they don’t block views of your yard.
3. Place bamboo shades or shutters over the outside of your windows. Like awnings, shades prevent the sun from heating the glass. However, they also block your view.
4. If you’re in the position of planning a new home or the renovation of an existing one, you may be able to wrap a wide veranda around these sides of your home, providing a built-in awning.
Can’t do any of the above, or they’re not enough?
5. Place solar film over the inside of your windows. While these may distort your view somewhat, they’ll make a big difference.
6. Run ceiling fans. Remember that in the winter the blades should run clockwise (forward) to push up the air, forcing the warm air to circulate. In summer, run the blades counter-clockwise (reverse), to push the air down, producing a comfortable breeze.
7. Keep all windows closed and drapes drawn (on the sun-side) when the outside temperature is higher than the inside temperature, unless there is enough breeze to counter the heat’s effect. When the outdoor temperature is equal to or lower than the inside, open everything up as wide as possible.
8. During window-open time, create a draft through your home by having high windows open on the hot side of the house (west) and low windows open on the cool side of the house. Hot air rises, sucking cool air through the living space.
9. Re-insulate your home if needed. If your home seems cold in winter and hot in summer, not holding the preferred temperature, likely your insulation needs an upgrade. Blown-in insulation can be surprisingly cost effective.
10. Vent your attic. Older homes (and barns) were often built with a cupola that gave hot air a place to escape. Under-eave venting or exhaust turbines will do much the same thing.
11. Keep your house from over-heating from human use as much as possible by hanging your clothes outside rather than using a heated dryer. Use your barbecue instead of your oven. Eat lots of salad! Or cook your food outside in a solar oven such as Sharon shared with us last week.
Any other house-cooling tips you might have?
We have A LOT of south facing windows. When we built our home, I was all "Yay! Light" (our apartment was dismally dark) and as soon as the summer hit, I was all "oh crap, its' hot".
We ultimately installed air conditioning (not a green alternative, I know). We have hung the solar film, and it makes a HUGE difference. It only distorts the view if you're looking out your window at an angle – straight on and you can hardly tell it's there.
You could always hook one of these up: http://lifehacker.com/181510/make-your-own-air-co… A friend of mine made one, and said that it works pretty well, actually.
I admit we have window air conditioners in two bedrooms upstairs because our attic is not properly vented and not insulated well enough as the joists are too narrow. All this is on our to-do list! Some day…
I've been using the "open windows on the cool side/shut down windows on the hot" for a long while and we usually manage the summer with only 2-3 days of air conditioning. That said, we're completely failing this year with the temps up so high. the solar film sounds interesting.