Cool Down Without Breaking the Bank
Low Cost Alternatives for Cooling Your Home
As a result of rising energy costs, concerns about global
warming, and other housing restrictions, air-conditioning is simply not an
option for many people. This situation can
prove challenging, especially in the summer when heat becomes trapped indoors.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple, low-cost alternatives for keeping
your home cool and comfortable when temperatures start to rise.
An alternative way to maintain a cool house or reduce the use of air-conditioning
is to use natural (or passive) cooling. Passive cooling uses non-mechanical
methods to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. These methods include:
Heat – The most effective method to cool your home is to keep the heat from
building up in the first place. The primary source of heat buildup is sunlight
absorbed by your house through the roof, walls, and windows. Using light colored
paints on these surfaces as well as special reflective coatings and films can make
a significant difference in the temperature of your home.
to Remove Warm Air - One of the simplest things you can do to cool down
your home is to force existing warm air out and encourage cool air to enter. This can be accomplished naturally by
ventilating the home during the coolest parts of the day or night, and sealing
it off during the hottest parts. The type of climate you live in will determine
the ideal time to ventilate.
> Reducing Heat
Generating Sources – Incandescent lamps and household appliances such as
ovens, dishwashers, and dryers are the number one culprits when it comes to
generating additional heat in the home.
By restricting the use of these devices during the hottest part of the
day or purchasing more energy-efficient models, you can significantly reduce
the temperature in your home.
Although these passive strategies will help, there may be days when they are
not enough. Sometimes you’ll need to supplement natural cooling with mechanical
devices. Oscillating and ceiling fans are a popular mechanical alternative to
air-conditioning. Fans make you feel
cooler (their effect is equivalent to lowering the air temperature by about 4°
F or 2° C) and they may be installed and operated for a fraction of the cost of
Whole House Fans
A whole-house fan is typically placed in the ceiling of the home and works by
sucking hot air out of the building and forcing it into the attic. This
displaces the very hot air trapped in the attic (which is pushed out of vents
in the roof). Then, with windows and/or doors open to the outside, the
whole-house fan draws cooler outside air into the building to replace the hot
air (creating a cooling breeze). Spring-mounted “louvers” on the fan allow air
to flow into the attic and automatically snap back into a closed position when
the device is turned off, preventing cold attic air from leaking into the home
during the winter.
Whole house ventilation fans are available through most home centers,
lumberyards, and plumbing and electrical retailers, typically by special order.
Your dealer can help you with sizing and locating the units for best
performance. Complete instructions are provided with the unit, but you may need
to consult with a qualified contractor and / or a licensed electrician before
*For a more detailed look at
passive cooling, see Reflection & Ventilation – A Two Step Strategy for
Cooling Your Home