Mother Earth Living

The Good Life

All things Mother Earth Living

Add to My MSN

Cool Your House Without AC

6/20/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: air conditioning, AC, keep cool, green summer, natural ventilation, Mission Zero House, Matt Grocoff, Greenovation.TV

I posted recently about three houses that were built to stay cool without air conditioning. But what about those of us who live in older, pre-existing homes and don’t have the means to retrofit?

My friend and green renovation expert Matt Grocoff, host of Greenovation.TV, offered up this wonderful solution in an article on Old House Web. If you have a basement and a second-floor window, Matt says, you’re in luck. Just follow these five steps to stay cool without raising your energy bill.

1. Close all of the windows and doors in the house.

2. Open one window on the uppermost conditioned space in your house.

3. Place a small window fan fitted to the window (optional).

4. Open one window in the farthest corner of the basement or the north side of the lowest floor.

5. Sit back and feel the cool breeze stream through your house.

“Before you can naturally ventilate your old house, you must reactivate the original ventilation features of the house like the attic and basement windows,” Matt writes. “Many old homes have basement and attic windows that have been sealed shut. In some cases, these have been sealed to try to keep out moisture. Big mistake. Unfortunately, sealing up basement windows to keep out moisture ends up trapping moisture inside instead.”

grocoff exterior
Matt and Kelly Grocoff take advantage of their 110-year-old home's natural ventilation to keep it cool without turning on the AC. 

In his own 110-year-old Mission Zero House—the nation’s oldest net-zero energy home—Matt and his wife, Kelly, restored every window and added energy-efficient storm windows with low-E glass. Built before air conditioning, the home has ventilation features that move warm air through the home and out through the attic. On hot days Matt and Kelly close all the Victorian home’s windows and doors but leave open one gable window in the attic (with a small box fan) and one window in the basement. Warm outside air is drawn through the open window into the basement, which helps chill it. The open attic window draws the warm air up through the house and out, in a movement referred to as the “stack effect.”

“If all is working well you should be able to stand in your basement doorway and feel the cool air blowing up the stairwell,” Matt writes. “Two weeks ago, on an 85 degree day, I was able to keep our home at a nice 73 degrees all day long without needing to turn on the geothermal air conditioning. Sure, the geothermal AC is ultra-efficient, but nothing beats virtually free natural ventilation.”



Related Content

Student-Built Earth Block Home Brings Natural Cooling to Navajo Reservation

When a group of graduation students began designing a home on the Navajo reservation in southeast Ut...

Powering Cable Boxes Costs Us $3 Billion Per Year--And Much of That Energy Could Be Saved

Cable set-top boxes in the United States consume 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—equivalent...

Cool Without AC? 3 Homes in the South Prove It Can Be Done

These three homes--in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina--use passive cooling techniques to ...

Cool Without AC? 3 Homes in the South Prove It Can Be Done(2)

Take a lesson from Southerners, who know a thing or two about keeping cool naturally. These homes ta...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.