Explore these alternatives to air-conditioning

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Home & Garden - posted Mon., May. 7, 2012
- Contributed Photo

Yes, our days are really warming up as spring turns to summer. But the heat is also on to reduce energy consumption and find greener energy alternatives. Air-conditioning is the most expensive way of dealing with the need for temperature moderation. Give some thought to alternatives to A/C.

You should first target dehumidification alternatives. If your basement is a finished living space, try using an appropriately sized dehumidifier. It will take out the excess moisture. Being subterranean provides a naturally cool environment.

Open the windows for a while, and let the incoming air force the stale air out, along with any standard pollutants it holds. If you can create some cross-ventilation, that should make your inside climate tolerable. Window fans also help with this.

One shortcoming of the open-window solution is that it will also allow some polluting particulates inside. Pollen and dust come to mind. If you are prone to respiratory distress, such as allergies and asthma, filtering the air on the way in may be required.

Remember that the warmest air will rise toward the ceiling. So a good multi-speed ceiling fan is just the solution to push that warmth down where it can be swept out of the building with the air flow you have developed.

At the hottest point of the day the hottest air in your home will be in your attic (or in the space just above your highest living space, if you have no attic). If you can move that air out and replace it with cooler air, the remaining living space will become cooler – perhaps cool enough to suit your comfort. Passive devices such as gable and roof vents and a roof cap will cause natural movement of the hot air out of the building.

Installing a gable fan in your roof peak will suck the hottest air out of the top of your living space. If you have passive vents installed in the ceilings of the highest living area, they will feed the air up to the area served by the gable fans.

Whole-house fans take the concept of the gable fan to the next level.  These are frequently mounted in the ceiling at the top of the highest set of stairs, where they can suck the air from the bottom floor up through the house. The warm air is then expelled through gable or roof vents. Air conditioning it’s not, but many homeowners swear by the relief it provides.

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