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Cooling in hot weather when the power is out

Post in 'The Green Room' started by GaryGary, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    Hi,

    I know there are still a lot of people out there in 100F weather with no power for AC.
    I put together this list of cooling methods that work without power -- maybe helpful in some cases:
    Build-It-Solar Blog: Cooling Without Power

    Got any other ideas?

    Gary

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's a good article. I remember reading an article way back when about using cooling tubes to naturally convect cool air into the house in Mother Earth News. If one has the right property, this seems like a good way to work with nature.

    http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12460

    Out here we have natural AC. When our summer high pressure system moves in (just arrived yesterday), our winds shift to the north, blowing air over Puget Sound right at our house. There is nothing like a giant 48F heat sink to cool the air down. (Or warm it up in the winter)
  3. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    Hi,
    I've put together all the material I could find over time on Earth Tubes here: http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Cooling/passive_cooling.htm#Other

    I'm personally on the fence about whether its a good way to go -- its certainly not as simple to do a good and safe earth tube system as it first appears when you look at it, but some of them do seem to work OK. Europe seems to have done more on developing systems that work well.

    Has anyone here tried one?

    Gary
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Old Elky had his house set up this way. Said it worked pretty well for him. We have no need for it, but if I lived in back east with the right land setup and had a backhoe, I'd probably try it.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  6. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

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    Sierra Nevadas, California
    We'll get triple-digit weather for an average of one to maybe three weeks a year. Our local waterways are all snow melt, so I actually look forward to this time so I can swim in them with some level of comfort. Otherwise we just dress light, maybe take a cold shower or play in the sprinkler, and leave the windows open at night. Unless we get into the 105°F+ range, it's just 'really warm'. If there's no power, we're likely to go out swimming anyway. My other favorite pastime during this season is watching the wood piles season... this is usually when new cracks in the ends of the wood become very pronounced, and the once-true stack begins to noticeably distort as the splits shrink.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    First lack of knowledge, 2nd ignorance, and 3rd exceptionally cheap energy all have led to building homes without regard to solar, passive, wind, natural convection and other natural means of heating and cooling. Imagine the energy savings (translated means money in the bank) that can be achieved with smarter home siting, window arrangements, eave construction, landscaping with trees and other techniques for a one-time investment and life-time return on free heating and cooling. Obviously, retrofitting an existing ill-placed and constructed home is problematical, but so much new construction suffers from the same blindness.

    Through dumb-luck the 1956 house we bought in 1990 is sited to take advantage of prevailing breezes, summer sun shading with winter sun passive solar gain, windows that allow air to flow through the house, and since 1990 improved with good insulation and highly efficient windows. We don't experience +90F temperatures and excessive humidity for lengthy periods, but comparatively we have used a window a/c for less than a week total in 22 years while neighbors, including one with a new house they built, use a/c all the time. The neighbor new house has a good view of the outside, when the windows are not shaded, but also faces west with a window glass front that now has shades (no view) to keep the summer sun out, and also 24' foot ceilings that function well as a heat trap both for summer and winter heat, resulting in near constant cooling or heating need.

    For everyone fortunate enough to be able to build new, siting and energy smart construction for both heating and cooling, perhaps are two of the most important long-term considerations.
    DexterDay likes this.
  8. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    A big thumbs up to the last post, especially the last sentence - and add on to that that it won't cost much more to do this at the outset.
  9. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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  10. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    The old standby, not sure if mentioned already or not.
    Keep all windows closed during the day, and shades down on those in direct sun.
    When the evening air is cool, open all windows and screen doors.
    In the morning, before air starts to warm, close all windows and doors.
    Rinse, repeat.
    btuser likes this.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That actually can work pretty well, if your wife doesn't go opening windows behind you and the kids don't leave the doors open.
    woodsmaster and MishMouse like this.
  12. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    That's all we need in our house. All windows are across from another so cross ventilation is easy. In the Winter we get a ton of solar gain, but large oaks shade us in the Summer till the sun is over the roof. Of course it's not really that hot all the time in NH, and if we ever get a heat wave after about 3-4 days of 90+ the house does start to heat up. As far as passive cooling we have a walk-out basement that's 68 all Summer so if it gets bad we pile into the cave.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Our passive cooler is Puget Sound. It was about 85::F in most of the region today. We hit 75 briefly.
  14. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Ya but dont you have to put up with a lot of rain? Rain all the time would be depressing to me.
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Not in the summer. However, it depends on where you live out here. Locally, we are in a microclimate. Our average rainfall is about half of NYC. Still, we do have grey, mild 35F winters instead of the sunny, 20 degree days back east.
  16. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Oregon, Washington, Idaho, & slivers of Montana, California & Nevada. Should give you some idea of the impact of the rain shadow provided by the Coastal, Olympic & Cascade mountain ranges. Out here, 25 miles can mean the difference between 12"/yr and 180"/yr. (Note: the numbers are in centimeters...but the colors tell the story, regardless of the units). Rick

    pnwrain.gif
  17. woodsmaster

    woodsmaster Minister of Fire

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    Thanks fossil, I did a search for a map like that but didn't find one.
  18. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    While not really thinking about it when buying it, our 1970 split level provides us a remarkably cool lower level. Even a week or two ago when we were in the mid to upper 90's for a week (pretty hot for NEOhio), the lower level was quite cool, especially if we opened the basement door. The front of the house faces due West, so we routinely close all blinds on the front windows in the afternoon and keep the ceiling fans running on low in the upstaris bedrooms to circulate air. Combined with the massive amount of attic insulation we put in a few years back we leave the AC set to 77, put at the bottom of the lower level stairs blowing cool air to the middle level, and are very comfortable. We could easily live without AC by sleeping downstairs.

    It's amazing what can be done to existing homes by just adding insulation, being smart about window coverings, etc.

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