Breezing In   2 comments

Ugh, it’s hot. So… here’s part two in the series on strategies that I have used to keep my house cool (see Awnings Up for part one) without over-reliance on air conditioning.

The first principle to reduce your cooling load is to block the sun. The second principle is to take advantage of breezes (both outdoor and fan-made) and cool night temperatures.

Taking advantage of natural breezes is especially easy in this part of California since we get the Delta breeze every night (except tonight which explains why it is 11 pm and the house is still at 84 degrees). As soon as the temperature is the same outside as inside, we open up the doors and windows and let nature finish the cooling, for free. When it’s really hot, we leave some windows open overnight so that the house is nicely chilled by morning. Likewise in the morning we keep the doors and windows open until the breeze coming in is the approximate temperature that we want the house to be. If a house is warm in the morning in the summer, it will be even worse later in the day, so do whatever you can to take advantage of night cooling. Even a slightly warm breeze can actually make a room feel cooler by reducing the stuffiness.

To really take advantage of breezes and indoor vs outdoor temperatures, you have to understand not only your overall climate, but the microclimates around your house and the ventilation patterns inside your house. Vegetation, hardscape, and shade elements make a big difference outside; while knowing what path the air will take through the house helps optimize the natural cooling inside. Our driveway is shaded on the west side starting in mid afternoon, so in the evening the air in the front (south) side of the house is comfortably cool long before the temperature has dropped on the west side of the house. We can open the front door and windows relatively early, and likewise we can keep the side door (west) open until early afternoon because it is still shaded and cool there. But our bedroom is a dead zone and we have no option except the air conditioner in there.

The other aspect of breezes is of course the use of fans. They don’t cool the room (in fact they technically heat it up a little bit), but when sitting in front of a fan it is possible to be comfortable at a much higher ambient temperature than otherwise. Fans in windows and doors can help the cool night breezes reach the entire house. Not all fans move air from one side to the other, though, and there is such a thing as overkill. Using a network of four fans in an attempt to force the breeze into the dead zone that is our bedroom really showed up on our electric bill, without helping cool our bedroom much. Unfortunately, while there are EnergyStar ratings for ceiling fans, there are no efficiency standards for floor fans. The last couple of times that I shopped for a floor fan I tried unsuccessfully to find out the energy usage to make sure I bought something that would be efficient. I don’t trust marketing: “efficient cooling and ventilation!”; I want numbers.

Posted June 28, 2010 by mayakey in energy use, frugal living, home

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2 responses to “Breezing In

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  1. This is pretty much a good advice…YOu can really help reduce the electric bills by doing so!

    Laying laminate flooring

  2. Pingback: Keeping Cool Without Breaking the Bank (Or Not) | Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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