Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 19, 2008
Ok, I’ve officially made it this far in the summer with only turning on my central air conditioner once for a few hours in total this summer. I also live in Regina, where the highs this week are all well over 30 C and we have days that get up to 40 C every year. How do I do it? Well a few words for you: heat tolerance and heat management.
Heat Tolerance is a very important concept to have down. Accept right off you will not keep your house at 21 C during the late afternoon. It simply won’t happen with an outside temperature of over 30C for hours on end. So far we have typically kept our indoor high to around 24C. Is it warm? Yes, but it isn’t uncomfortable. If you can stand that you can save huge amounts on your power bill avoiding using your air conditioner.
Heat Management is really just being a little smart with the natural cycles of the day. Here’s the steps to make it work:
- Insulate. Yes, you read that right. Insulation and caulking do keep heat in during the winter and also helps keep heat out during the summer. Add insulation where you can and seal it where you can and save money all year round.
- Temperature Gauges. To effectively manage heat you will need at least two thermostats. One inside the house and one outside. When your ground floor temperature is within two degrees C of your outdoor temperature start opening all your windows to let the cooling start. You might be actually heating up the main floor sightly, but the air movement will feel good so do it anyways.
- Move Air. Depending on your location your evening might have no wind which makes it hard to cool anything down with no air movement. So use a fan upstairs by a window to pump out the hot air. The cooler air will be come in all by itself on the first floor. A fan or two for air movement cost pennies a day compared to dollars to run the air conditioner. Keep the windows open over night (unless you expect some rain).
- Close Up. Close all the windows and all the blinds in the house by 7am or earlier. Yes the air might still be a bit cooler outside, but you will have to face the fact you will be better off to keep the currently cold air in than start heating the house when the sun comes up.
- Keep Out the Sun. This one is critical. The more sun you can block the cooler your house will stay. If possible block the sun from the outside on your south facing windows.
- Keep the Outside Doors Closed. Do you stand in front of your fridge with the door open? If so, someone likely told you that you were wasting power. Guess what, your house is now like a big fridge. Keep the door closed to keep it cooler.
- Humidity Control. Depending on your climate a dehumidifier may also be a great way to keep things comfortable in the house. I don’t have on because it really doesn’t get all that humid where I live.
- Repeat. Then as the evening cools off go back to step two and repeat it all.
If you got other ideas for your location, please share.