These guys skip some of the bigger ticket items like taking windows out of service, and buying a dehumidifier, closing off the upper floors of your house and pumping cool air from your basement using your furnace fan. Still you have to start somewhere.
Reading Mickey’s interview Author Stan Cox Explores Some Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World makes one think about what the alternatives are. Planet Green and TreeHugger have covered many of them; we round them up ten of them here.
According to the Washington Post, The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain—the amount temperature rises because of sunshine—by as much as 65 percent on windows with southern exposures and 77 percent on those with western exposures. Your furniture will last longer, too.
We noted in Planet Green last spring that this can translate into a saving of cooling energy of 26 percent in hot climates, and 33 percent in more temperate climates where it might even make air conditioning unnecessary.
Plant A Tree.
I don’t own an air conditioner. The house immediately to the south does it for us, completely shading the south side of our house. What it misses, a huge ancient maple in its front yard gets, so in winter I get a lot of sun in my window, and in summer I am always in shade. A tree is as sophisticated as any electronic device around; it lets the sun through in winter and grows leaves in summer to block it.
Geoffrey Donovan studied it in Sacramento, and calculated the savings.
“Everyone knows that shade trees cool a house. No one is going to get a Nobel Prize for that conclusion,” says the study co-author, Geoffrey Donovan. “But this study gets at the details: Where should a tree be placed to get the most benefits? And how exactly do shade trees impact our carbon footprint?”
Frank Lloyd Wright once said “a doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” It turns out he could have been a mechanical engineer, for it is surprising how effective vines are at keeping a house cool. With the new weatherization grants, the salesmen are out peddling ground source heat pumps to keep you cool for less, but really, free is better.
Vines such as ivy, russian-vine and virgina creeper grow quickly and have an immediate effect; according to Livingroofs.org.
Climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shading walls from the sun, the daily temperature fluctuation being reduced by as much as 50%.Together with the insulation effect, temperature fluctuations at the wall surface can be reduced from between –10°/14°F to 60°C/140°F to between 5°C/41°F and 30°/86°F. Vines also cool your home through envirotranspiration, described in our post Be Cool and Plant A Tree.
Please read the rest for more. The next idea “opening your windows” might not be such a good idea.
More tomorrow if I live.