Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Low Energy and Unusual Ways to Keep Cool

Here are some low energy, low carbon, cheap, off the beaten path ways to keep cool in this hot summer...

The Sleep Genie:
This is an idea from the SunFrost website.  It basically builds a little cubby around your bed and limits the active cooling to the small area.  Links here...

This idea is equally useful in the winter to reduce heating energy!

Mother Earth News just put up an article on built in bedrooms that might fit with the Sleep Genie idea quite well.

Randy suggested some time back that you can make use of the thermal mass of a waterbed by sleeping either right on the bed water bladder or with just a thin layer between you and the bladder.  I suppose a clever person could work out a way to keep the bladder water cool by introducing new water.

Simple Shading From the Outside
Windows let in very large amounts of solar heat and and are responsible (on average) for nearly half of home heat gain.  There are lots of inexpensive ways to add shading to the outside of the house where it is much more effective.   Overhangs, solar screens, awnings, a trellis, outside rollup shades, trees or vines, shade sails, ...
Lots of ideas on external shading ...

The main thing is finding out where your heat gain is coming from and reducing it at the source.

While windows are the worst of the heat gain sources, walls that receive a lot of sun during the day can also transfer a lot of heat to the house -- especially if they are not well insulated.  Shading whole walls can greatly reduce this gain.

Reflective Roofs
In hot climates, reflective roofs reduce attic temperatures and heat gain from the attic to the living space.

Reflective roofs...

This may not be for everyone, but here is a quick and cheap way to get a white roof...

AC in the Attic 
The FSEC has found that AC units and/or distribution ducts located in the attic typically have large coolth losses to the attic space.  Often big gains can be made by taking steps to reduce leakage of cooled air into the attic and to insulated against heat loss to the attic from ducts and AC equipment.
If you can move this equipment out of the attic, better yet.

Taking steps like more attic ventilation, radiant barriers, and reflective roofing can keep the attic cooler and help to reduce the coolth loss to the attic space from AC ducts and equipment in the attic.
These are all simple, cheap DIY projects.

Night Ventilation
In climates that have hot days but cool nights, a strategy of ventilating heavily at night to pre-cool the house thermal mass for the coming hot day can be very effective and very inexpensive.
This is how we use this strategy to cool our house without AC...

More on effective ventilation for cooling...

Using the Basement Cool Air
Here is an Fran's great story on defeating the evil air conditioner with a ten dollar fan and a scheme to get cool basement air up through the house and out the top...

I've heard from several people who have been able to use this simple technique to good effect.

Got Ideas???
If you have any other ideas or simple, low energy techniques that have worked for you, lets hear about them.


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