Heat Reduction Products Carlsbad CA
Del Mar, CA
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Central AC Installation, Commercial HVAC Service, Furnace Installation, Heat Installation, HVAC Contractors, HVAC Maintenance, Outdoor Cooling System Installation, Residential HVAC Service
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Central AC, Furnace, Heater, Outdoor Cooling System
San Diego, CA
San Diego, CA
When I was designing my home in the central Piedmont Region of North Carolina, my primary goal was to build a house that could be cooled without a mechanical air conditioning system. Whenever I made a design decision, I first evaluated it in terms of impact upon the cooling abilities of the structure. I had no idea how successful I would be, but I wanted to try, knowing I could always retrofit an AC system if necessary.
Why build a home without AC? First, I was looking forward to avoiding the significant costs of purchasing a system, as well as to the monthly energy savings. Secondly, I believe it is healthier to avoid going in and out of air conditioning, and that we can more easily adapt to seasonal heat, especially in the South, when we allow our bodies to adjust to it.
Additionally, my wife and I work at home and homeschool, so we have less exposure to air conditioning than most people and thus can more readily adapt to the natural temperature. Other significant benefits include the avoidance of noise from an AC system and the environmental advantages resulting from less energy use.
I have always been impressed by the old houses in North Carolina and realized they held many keys to living comfortably in hot weather. On trips to the coast, I noticed design features on old Coastal Plain homes that helped keep the houses cool. Many had belvederes or cupolas on the roof, verandas or other strategically located porches, and trees and shrubs for shade.
My ultimately successful approach to cooling a home without AC can be boiled down to three simple principles:
Prevent as much heat as possible from entering the house
Minimize heat generation inside
Be aware of airflow through the building.
1Properly sized south-facing eaves are essential to blocking the rays of the summer sun and avoiding the resultant heat build-up. This is a standard feature of passive solar construction, which allows the winter sun as it passes lower to the horizon to cast its warming rays into the building while blocking the summer sun on its higher path.
Eave sizing is based on your latitude (the sun will shine at different angles at different latitudes) and the average height of your windows. You can find sun angle information in books or online that can aid you in figuring the winter and summer sun angles for your locale. You can then determine how far your eave must extend to provide shade in the summer and solar access in the winter.
Another approach is to talk to solar builders or homeowners in your area. You don't need to know calculations to fractions of an inch. For instance, in my area (latitude 36 degrees) a 2-foot eave works great for windows installed in 8-foot walls with an average sill height of 3 feet. If you are planning to build next year, you could observe the shading this year and make an accurate determination.
Then you have to figure out how to deal with the sun as it shines on the eastern and western sides of your house. The rays come in at low angles, so using the same eave size as on the southern side will not suffice.
One strategy is to minimize the amount of glazing (i.e. windows) on the east and west side, although daylighting and aesthetic considerations like desirable views are worthy considerations. Since the western sun seems to be more heat producing than the morning sun, I chose to build a porch along the western wall of my home with a roof extending out 16 feet.
On the eastern side, where our kitchen and dining room are located, we chose not to skimp on windows and enjoy the morning light. The heat-producing effects are ameliorated by shade from the nearby woods.
Awnings are useful on east- and west-facing windows, as well as on any windows that do not have functioning eaves. On our home, the east- and west-facing windows are low-e windows, which allow less solar radiation to penetrate the house than the clear insulated glass on the southern windows, which provide maximum solar gain in the winter.
2There are many ways heat is generated inside our homes. Lighting, computers, refrigerators, freezers, cooking and bathing are some of the primary sources. Reducing the heat generated from these sources or venting that heat quickly to the outside are key cooling strategies.
With lighting, the first tactic should be to provide as much natural light as possible to minimize the need to turn on lights during the day. Lights produce a surprising amount of heat. When designing my house, I made it a priority to introduce natural light into every room.
One challenging area was an internal hallway. I designed the adjacent south-facing bedroom so I could install a full glass interior door without sacrificing privacy. This delivered light from the bedroom windows into the hallway and has saved countless kilowatts and resultant heat gain.
Skylights can be useful, but bear in mind that they can also be powerful heat collectors, since they often directly face the sky. I consider them a last resort.
However, my design ended up with a bathroom that could not include a window. I came up with two solutions. Since the hallway outside the bathroom was fairly well lit by a window, I installed an opaque glass block window in the bathroom wall closest to the hall window. Then I installed a small skylight that I was able to position behind the third-story belvedere on the building's north side. The end result is that direct sunlight rarely penetrates the skylight well, and heat build-up is avoided. In addition, the skylight has a manually operated vent that helps passively release heat and steam.
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use only about 25 percent of the energy needed to power traditional incandescents. Given that 90 percent of the energy produced by incandescent bulbs is heat energy, switching to CFLs dramatically reduces heat output. In addition to cooling, electrical lighting costs are reduced by 75 percent.
As for refrigerators and freezers, choose the most efficient models you can find. These types of appliances run intermittently and generate heat when running. The more efficient they are, the less they will run, and the less heat they will give off.
A lot of heat and humidity is generated in kitchens and bathrooms. The best strategy is to install quality vent fans as close to the point of generation as possible that can pull hot, humid air out of the house. A strong range hood fan in the kitchen is essential; it should vent to the outside rather than pass the intake air through a filter and re-circulate it back into the living space. When I get up on summer mornings, I always turn on the range exhaust fan as I boil my coffee water, so none of that heat remains inside.
For bathrooms, I recommend Panasonic vent fans. Studies have shown them to be the quietest (and noisy fans just don't get used as much), the most energy efficient and the most powerful. You also can install a timer so that after a bath or shower, it can be set to run for ample time to pull all the steamy air outside.
A couple of miscellaneous tips: Notebook computers generate less heat than desktops, and running your dishwasher at night avoids adding to the hotter daytime temperature inside.
3We all know that hot air will travel up and out if we give it a chance. In the old days, many builders figured out that if they built a ventilation route into their homes - like a cupola on a barn - it would cool the dwellings naturally.
I built a belvedere atop our second story. It's actually a small useable room with a cupola on top and insulated hatch doors below. Within the cupola is a whole-house fan. From mid-spring to mid-fall we leave the hatch doors open, so air continuously flows through the house and out this opening. Not only does it help cool the interior, but it also keeps fresh air circulating through the house.
The belvedere has windows on all sides and, since it is the tallest part of the structure, the sun heats up the air inside the room before shining on any other part of the house. This causes the warm air in the belvedere to rise out through the ceiling opening, pulling air from the house below, which in turn pulls in cool early morning air from the outside. This is called a solar chimney.
I designed the lower floors to facilitate the flow of warm air up to the belvedere. The kitchen has an 8-foot ceiling and the adjacent living room has a 10-foot ceiling. The stairway that leads up to the hall below the belvedere starts at the edge of the living room next to the kitchen.
Since significant heat can be generated in the kitchen, the change in ceiling heights encourages the air to start flowing up and out of the kitchen. Then the path of least resistance leads it up the stairwell, which in turn leads up to the belvedere. This natural circulation system pulls air from all around the house as it rises. A key to making this air flow work is to have an open, airy design.
After a hot day, we run the whole-house fan for half an hour or so in the evening. This changes the air in the house and creates a comfortable temperature.
Most of the time the inside temperature of our house is quite comfortable and significantly lower than the outdoors. However, there are some days when prolonged heat causes us to utilize a different strategy.
When we anticipate a very hot day, we will close all the windows and doors, as if we were running a mechanical air conditioning system. This traps the cool air from the night and keeps the house relatively comfortable throughout the day. When evening comes, we run the whole-house fan, bringing in a houseful of fresh air. Our house is superinsulated, which is important to the success of this approach.
Another traditional technique we have come to appreciate is the use of ceiling fans. We have them in the living room, dining room and all bedrooms. They really make a difference in comfort. Plus, they keep the air moving, which helps prevent mold growth.
Our system works very well for us. A major reason is that woods surround us and the air we draw into our house is already cool and fresh. Another reason is that we live there all week long, with our two home businesses and homeschooling, so we are able to better acclimate to the natural temperature than if we were working all day in air-conditioned offices.
No matter where you live, you can utilize many of these strategies in your own home. If you do, you will use your air conditioner less often, reduce your energy bills and lessen our impact on the environment.
Mark Marcoplos is a builder, designer and writer who has been building green for many years. He's based in Chapel Hill, N.C.