ABOUT NATURAL & ALTERNATIVE COOLING
The principles of staying cool haven’t changed
For thousands of years before residential air conditioning became popular people relied on a variety of strategies, including natural ventilation, to keep their homes cool.
These time-tested strategies still work. In temperate climates, they should be enough to handle all cooling and ventilation needs. In warmer regions, natural cooling can reduce reliance on refrigerated air conditioning equipment, which is expensive to install and operate.
Strategically placed windows capture prevailing winds and direct fresh air inside. Window selection also helps: casements make better wind scoops than double-hung or sliding windows.
In the evening, when it’s cooler outside than inside, convection can expel warm air from vents or windows at the top of the house. Cooler air will be drawn in to replace it.
Using natural convection. A light monitor or a solar chimney creates a stack effect that helps cool a house without electricity.
A solar chimney is a vertical shaft designed to encourage air flow. Solar chimneys usually have dark, heat-absorbing material on the inner wall and glazing on the south-facing outer wall; these features readily heat the air in the chimney, causing it to rise.
As air rises and escapes at the top of the chimney, fresh air is drawn in at lower levels.
Fans make us feel cooler. Fans move air without lowering its temperature, yet they can make us feel cooler. At night, whole-house fans can be used to flush hot air out of the house and replace it with cooler outdoor air.
Evaporative coolers save energy. Suitable for some, but not all, climates, they are less complicated than a full-blown air conditioning system. These alternatives to central air conditioning use evaporation to lower the temperature of ventilation air.