Natural Air Conditioning

Learn How to Naturally Cool Your Home With Air Conditioner Alternatives

There are three major sources of unwanted heat in your home during the summer: heat that conducts through your walls and ceiling from the outside air, waste heat that is given off by lights and appliances, and sunlight that shines through your windows. These are described below, along with natural air conditioning techniques to help cool your home without a conventional air conditioner. 


Insulate your house to save energy

Whenever the outdoor temperature is higher than the indoor temperature, warm air will blow into the house through cracks. To reduce these gains, you can insulate and tighten your house. If you don’t have wall insulation, have cellulose or fiberglass blown into the walls by a qualified insulation contractor. Tighten up your house to reduce infiltration. You might also want to install a radiant barrier in the attic to cut down on summer heat gain. If properly installed, a radiant barrier can reduce cooling costs to some extent, particularly in the South. An energy auditor can help you decide which measures make the most sense for your house and how much they will cost.


Get rid of inefficient appliances to naturally cool your home

Lighting, refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and other household appliances are all sources of waste heat, raising the interior temperature of your house. The best solution is to buy energy-efficient products. Energy-efficient appliances and lights produce far less waste heat. Standard incandescent light bulbs, for example, emit 90% of their energy as heat - only 10% as light. Compact fluorescent lights, on the other hand, produce only a fraction of the heat. In some cases, you can delay heat-producing tasks, such as dishwashing, until the cooler evening hours. You might also consider relocating a freezer to the basement or garage, where it won’t contribute its waste heat to your living space. And by planning your meals carefully, you can minimize use of the oven on the hottest days.


Choose roofing or painting wisely

Lighter colors tend to reflect more solar radiation from your house, cutting down the amount of heat penetrating the roof and walls. This may seem like a minor tip, but using “cool” products may lower roof surface temperatures by 100oF and reduce your peak cooling demand by 10–15%. If you are replacing your roofing tiles or if your roof is black, look for shingles, coatings, and other roofing materials that have been rated for high  “solar reflectance” and high “thermal emittance.” If your neighborhood has certain codes for roof tiling or if you are otherwise concerned about the aesthetics of a light-colored roof, look for new products on the market that use familiar dark pigments that have been engineered to conduct less heat. 


Shade or improve windows for easy air conditioner alternatives

Sunlight shining in windows, particularly those on the east and west sides of the house, usually adds the largest amount of unwanted summertime heat. In addition, the sun heats up the roof and walls of the house, increasing heat conduction to the interior. With no shading of east and west windows, the interior temperature of a typical house could rise as much as 20°F on a hot day, either making your air conditioner work a lot harder, or making you a lot less comfortable.

The best way to eliminate solar heat gain is to provide effective shading. Use horizontal trellises above east- and west-facing windows, which collect more summer sun than the others. Plant tall trees (prune lower branches so as not impede summer breezes), or use awnings wider than the windows to provide shade. If you have a choice, place porches, sheds, and garages on east and west walls to provide further shading. Unless you have extensive areas of south glass, the south wall should not require summer shading because the summer sun is at too high an angle to cause much of a problem. Planting evergreen trees in front of south windows, however, will block beneficial winter gains.

If you’re replacing windows, put in high-performance windows with low-e glazings that look perfectly clear yet block out a large percentage of unwanted heat gain. It makes sense to install windows with low solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC) on west and east walls, where heat gain from the sun is the greatest in the summer. Windows with high SHGC make more sense on the south walls, especially when you want to benefit from passive solar heating during the winter months. Another way to reduce solar gain through windows is to install drapes with light-colored linings or operable blinds that will reflect  sunlight back outside. Vertical blinds are particularly effective on east-  and west-facing windows. Also choose lighter colors for roofs and walls to reflect sunlight and reduce conductive heat gain. 


Natural air conditioning with air movement and ventilation

Ceiling fans work to cool by creating a low-level “wind chill” effect throughout a room. As long as indoor humidity isn’t stifling, they can be quite effective. If your fan has a motor that can spin in either direction, you can use it to lower your energy costs all year round. During the summer, a counter-clockwise motion creates a breeze. In the winter, a clockwise motion creates an updraft that keeps warm air in the occupied space. Fans should have multiple speed settings so that airflow can be reduced at lower temperatures. When shopping for a ceiling fan, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR ceiling fans provide more effective fan cooling with less energy by using improved blade design, offering more control options, and including high efficiency light kits. If you already have a ceiling fan, make sure to adjust the blades when needed to minimize wobbling. You can also reduce the energy the fan uses by replacing the lighting component with one certified by ENERGY STAR. As an added bonus, these light kits require fewer bulb changes. Also, remember that fans cool people - they don’t actually reduce room temperature - so turn it off when you leave the room. 


Stay Connected.
You've been added to our mailing list.
Thank you for signing up!
Like ecolife on Facebook & Google, and join us in the Green movement!