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Keeping it cool old school

Being part of the design process for your home means making decisions — and compromises.

DH and I had a bit of a struggle over air conditioning.  Neither of us can handle the heat in the summer — we tend to wilt around 25° C. And as for sleeping in a hot, humid room – well, it ain’t gonna happen.


DH wanted air conditioning for the laneway.  I did not.  I think we can keep the space cool through the summer using what we have, and not use more energy cooling off the place.

On his side of the discussion — summer.

On my side — windows on all four sides of the house, so we’re sure of getting a cross breeze, upstairs and down (our ex-condo had windows on one side of the building — north — so no chance of a cross breeze). Plus the house is built facing full south, but the sun does not hit the windows after 5 pm (this far in the year) so we don’t get the hot rays of the setting sun streaming in. We can close the blinds on the south and east sides of the upstairs to keep the hottest sun of the day out.  Plus we have fans to blow cooling breezes (when available) throughout the house, and we can move them from room to room as we need them.

So the weight of words won the day and we did not install air conditioning.  We have high hopes that we will survive without it.

Since the bedroom is tucked into the slope of the lot, with a small north-facing window, we can keep it lovely and cool. Last year  we were thrilled to find how cool and dark the bedroom was in the basement suite we rented during the build, and how easy it was to get a good sleep compared to the hot, stuffy master bedroom of our ex-condo.  We expect our open-and-screened bedroom window will provide enough cool air for the bedroom fan to circulate and keep us comfortable.

And we can always step onto our deck if we start to swoon from the heat upstairs.  Delightfully we could even watch TV through the window from the deck, so we’ll always have a cool place to go if it gets too warm in the sitting room.

Right now the sitting room is wonderfully comfortable, with a couple of windows open at the top (tilt and turn windows — great idea)



It tilts!  It turns!  It slices, dices, and juliennes (not exactly as shown) plus it gives our cats the illusion that they can escape if they can just discover how they work.

There’s no shortage of fresh air.  We will put the screens on our windows this weekend, so we can keep the bugs out (and the cats in) when we open the windows nice and wide.

We also expect the extra insulation of the living roof will provide an extra layer of comfort.

We will have to live and learn to see if our plans work as well as we hope they will to keep us really cool in the heat of summer.

In short:

  1. Windows on at least 3 sides of the building to catch all the breezes.
  2. Blinds to keep out the most intense rays of the sun.
  3. Sleeping on the lowest level of the house (a basement if you can).
  4. Getting outside if the heat is too much inside.
  5. Fans.  We are fans of fans.

We are ready for the summer.

Because summer is coming. Keep cool.

About ladywholivesdownthelane

Starting the adventure of building a laneway house in the real-estate jungle of Vancouver, BC

2 responses »

  1. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how cool you can keep your house without air conditioning. We live at Cultus Lake and our big sliding doors all face west. My husband is religious about closing those drapes once the sun moves around and the cross breezes and ceiling fans do the trick. Mind you, it does cool down nicely here at night, I don’t know what the situation is like where you are,o.

    • We are finding that the place cools down nicely once the sun is not pouring in the windows. We’ve put some screens on some of the windows so can open them wide without worrying about bugs or escaping indoor cats.


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