Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 7, 2007

fighting the heat fight

I live in a place that nature really wants to be a desert. It isn't one because of some pretty creative irrigation. Every year we have multiple weeks of 90º - 105º weather. And every year we try to keep our home cool and end up battling mother nature (who might I add puts up a hell of a fight!). We live in a new home with good insulation, good windows and such, and we try to bear with the highest comfortable temp that we can. Still, I know that our A/C ends up running a lot more that we would like. So this year I have installed a powered attic fan. This should help us keep the house cooler by assisting us in fighting the biggest heat load that we have; an attic the gets well into the 120º range. This load of heat sitting over our top floor (it's a two story home), combined with heats' natural tendancy to rise makes our second story a sauna. We have however learned a few really good lessons over the last couple of years from researching how to save $$ and reduce our energy consumption.

• Get a programmable digital thermostat first thing. They are far more accurate, and less susceptible to human error( i.e. forgetting to turn off/down at night). They can be programmed to run during the specific hours needed, or can stay off all day while your out, and turn on only an hour before you get back home so you return to a comfortable house, that hasn't been that way all day for no reason.

• If you have the option of "AUTO / ON" on your thermostat for the fan. Try leaving it "ON" whenever your in the house. the AUTO setting will only kick on the fan when the thermo. senses that the A/C needs to kick on to cool the house (this works for heaters in the winter also). The problem is that as I said before heat rises and cool air settles, we all know that, but our thermo. doesn't; it senses the air around it and that's all. Leaving the fan on all the time, will bring in air through vents cold air returns and will recirculate it through the vent registers. In a home like mine with a second story this has the effect of leveling the temperatures so that the colder air from below gets mixed with the hotter air from above and results in a more even and comfortable house and the A/C needs to kick in far less frequently. We noticed a significant drop in our heating and cooling costs the first year that we did this.

• If you can, work with Mother Nature, she really wants to and is quite helpful if you let her be. Every morning, the west side of our house is much cooler, because the sun is not beating down on it. However in the evening, and even to a greater extent, the opposite is true. We open the windows on the cool side of the house and circulate that colder air in the morning, and in the evening do the opposite; both while running the circulating fan as mentioned above. This allows us to really reduce the running time for our A/C since we don't need it until much later, and then can merely maintain the coolness rather than have to create it. As a side note to this, if you don't have the ability to run a circulating fan but do have a second story, or even a high window or fireplace chimney, open the windows on the highest level or the flue to allow hot air to naturally move up and out creating a vacume that will draw in the colder air from below. This is called creating a thermal chimney and can be a very low impact way of cooling.

There are a lot of other suggestions, but these are a couple that I have employed and can attest to. Hope this can help someone with their home cooling, and maybe save some energy and a little $ to boot.

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