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Saving Energy With an Evaporative Cooler

In a dry climate, lowering the temperature of your indoor air with a swamp cooler uses much less electricity than an air conditioner

Posted on Jul 17 2015 by Martin Holladay
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Evaporative coolers are appliances used to cool indoor air. Evaporative coolers use much less energy than air conditioners, but they can’t cool indoor air effectively in all weather conditions.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Public domain
  2. Image #2: Rheem
  3. Image #3: NREL
  4. Image #4: Home Energy magazine
  5. Image #5: Up-Dux

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High-Tech Ceiling Fans for Low-Tech Cooling

The sleek, energy-efficient Haiku fan from Big Ass Fans will help keep us comfortable in our new house this summer

Posted on May 15 2014 by Alex Wilson

Winter has barely ended in Vermont, but as I write this the forecast is for 82 degrees tomorrow. This makes me think about strategies for keeping cool in the months ahead. I’m looking forward to trying out the high-tech ceiling fans we installed in our two upstairs bedrooms. I’ll get to those fans in a minute, but first I’ll explain why I like ceiling fans so much.


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Image Credits:

  1. Images #1 and #2: Alex Wilson
  2. Image #3: Big Ass Fans

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How to Buy an Energy-Efficient Ceiling Fan

Reading the label helps, and so does avoiding bad advice

Posted on May 14 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

A little over a decade ago when I was building a house and buying a bunch of ceiling fans, it wasn't so easy to figure out which fans were energy efficient and which weren't. That's not the case anymore because every ceiling fan now has a label on the package that tells you how much air movement you can expect for each watt of electricity you put into the fan.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Kevin Marsh
  2. Image #2: Energy Vanguard
  3. Image #3: Energy Vanguard
  4. Image #4: Energy Star
  5. Image #5: Big Ass Fans

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Is There an Alternative to a Heat-Recovery Ventilator?

HRVs are a great idea, but they can get expensive

Posted on Dec 17 2012 by Scott Gibson

The tighter the house, the more it needs mechanical ventilation. That's become a rule of thumb for energy-efficient builders, and designers often turn to heat-recovery ventilators to get the job done. These relatively simple (but not necessarily cheap) devices use the temperature of outgoing air to moderate the temperature of incoming air, thus lowering the energy penalty for providing fresh air to the whole house.


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Image Credits:

  1. Fantech

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Keeping Cool

Simple strategies to keep cool without the use of mechanical air conditioning

Posted on Jun 28 2012 by Alex Wilson

Welcome to summer. Burlington, Vermont hit a record 97°F the other day, and my place in West Dummerston reached 93°, with high humidity. What’s the best way to stay comfortable in weather like this — assuming that you’re not using mechanical air conditioning?

First, it’s important to understand that the goal isn’t really about temperature; it’s about comfort. Some very simple strategies can help you remain comfortable even with high air temperatures.


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Image Credits:

  1. Alex Wilson

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Resilient Design: Natural Cooling

Natural cooling strategies can keep homeowners safe if power is lost

Posted on Jan 19 2012 by Alex Wilson

Over the past month and a half, my blogs been focusing on resilient design — which will become all the more important in this age of climate change. Achieving resilience in homes not only involves keeping them comfortable in the winter months through lots of insulation and some passive solar gain (which I've covered in the previous two blogs), it also involves keeping them from getting too hot in the summer months if we lose power and our air conditioning systems stop working.


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Image Credits:

  1. Alex Wilson

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European Products for Building Tight Homes

A new importer in Brooklyn is distributing European tapes, housewrap, ventilation fans, and a ‘magic box’

Posted on Nov 25 2011 by Martin Holladay

A new distributor of building products from Europe has set up shop in Brooklyn, New York. The company, called Four Seven Five, was recently founded by a trio of PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. consultants: Floris Keverling Buisman, Sam McAfee, and Ken Levenson. Four Seven Five plans to import air-sealing products and ventilation fans from Germany, as well as HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. equipment from Denmark.


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Image Credits:

  1. Lunos Lueftungstechnik

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Using Ceiling Fans To Keep Cool Without AC

If you don’t have air conditioning, ceiling fans can save energy — but turn them off when you leave the room

Posted on Jun 11 2010 by Martin Holladay

When I was a young backpacker traveling through India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand in the 1970s, I couldn’t afford air-conditioned hotels or restaurants. In these tropical conditions, I became quite accustomed to the benefits of Casablanca-style fans.


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Image Credits:

  1. Gossamer Wind

Fans and Natural Cooling

Breezes and Fans Can Keep You Cool

UPDATED 5/30/2012

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Image Credits:

  1. Don Mannes/Fine Homebuilding
  2. Chuck Lockhart/Fine Homebuilding
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