Get Green with Style Blog

Greener Cooling Tips

by Hilary Sopata

It is HOT in the Midwestern United States this time of year.  I don’t doubt that most people run their air conditioning from the time it gets a little bit warm in the spring until the cooling breezes of Autumn arrive.  There are also some people out there who run their air conditioning to cool off one day and run their heater the next.  

Here at my house, we save energy (and money) by taking a different approach with our cooling.  We know some basic principles of warm and cool air: heat rises and cooler air sinks.  Also, most weather systems in North America go from West to East meaning that breezes come from the West.  Add to this the fact that the North side of the house is coolest because that side of the house has the least amount of direct sunlight and that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  We now have some basic principles to use to design our cooling system.

We put one big box fan facing OUT in a South-facing window and open two windows on the North side of the house, then we use a smaller fan facing IN directly cooling the bedroom at the other end of the house that also unfortunately happens to have a South-facing window.  For larger homes, just add more fans, but remember to equalize the air coming in with the air going out and also keep the OUT fans on one side of the house (preferably the South or West sides) and the IN fans in the other part of the house.  (Note: We use filters on our IN windows to filter allergens out of the air.)

For two or more stories, you have two choices.  You can treat each level like its own independent system which is best for people who really like their fan blowing directly on them at night.  The second and more big picture alternative is to push the warmer air on the second floor of the house OUT (remember that heat naturally rises) and have the fans on the first floor pulling IN.

If it is really hot during the day and the temperature indoors is cooler than outdoors late into the evening, we plug the fans into timers and have it set to turn on at a specific time that we determine by looking at an hourly weather forecast online.  For those few weeks that it is so hot you can’t fall asleep – that is when we use a small window air conditioning unit in the bedroom! 

In the morning, when the temperature is at equilibrium indoors and outdoors, we shut the house up as tight as a drum including closing most of the window treatments to keep the heat from building up indoors.  When we’re actually using a particular room, we open the window treatments and let the sun shine in!

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  1. * Tabitha Long says:

    We do the same thing in our home and it works just fine! Better than air conditioning, better on the environment and my pocketbook!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 3 months ago

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