For a while we toyed with the idea of getting Air Conditioning for our laneway home. But we decided no for two reasons (well, three if you include the cost).
- It’s not in keeping with our goal of using less energy.
- It only gets super hot in Vancouver for a couple of days a year, and we could work around it.
The living roof actually helps quite a bit. The plants keep the hot sun from hitting and heating our roof, which makes it a bit cooler inside. Plus the moisture in the planting medium evaporates during the hot part of the day, which cools it off a bit, too.
Now summer is here and we are finding ways to keep our home as comfortable as possible.
Number 1 is to keep the sun from heating up the interior. We love it when the morning sun pours into our upper storey where our kitchen and sitting room are. And the cats love the warm sunny spots on the floor and the furniture. But that heat sticks around all day. So we keep our blinds closed on the windows facing East until the sun moves around to the South, then we open the eastern blinds and close the southern blinds*. That way the furnishings and interior finishes don’t heat up in the first place.
Number 2 is to create some cross-breezes. The home is designed with windows on all four sides that can open up and catch any breeze available. Right now we only have screens on the tilt-and-turn windows, so can’t take full advantage of the windows that open out — but we’re getting screens for those windows soon. We crack them open an inch or so but the bugs want to get in and the cats want to get out so we’ll have to wait for the screens to really open them wide.
Number 3 is fans. We have two fans going all the time just moving the air around in the bedroom and the studio/den downstairs. When the sun goes down and the air is cooler outside we turn on the bathroom and the stove fans and keep the windows open to pull that air inside. If it gets really hot we can soak fabrics (T-shirts are the perfect size) in water and put them over the standing fans to spread cool air throughout the rooms.
Number 4 is not bringing more heat into the place with our cooking. Luckily we both love salads and cold soups and DH loves to grill on his new natural-gas fuelled barbecue so we are keeping the cooking to a minimum.
Number 5 is drinking cool drinks. That may seem a little obvious, but it’s so easy to become dehydrated in the heat. The other day I was sitting in a nice breeze at the kitchen counter, quite comfortable, and I looked over at the thermostat to see what temperature it was. 88F! 31C! I didn’t notice the heat because I was so comfortable. But I was sweating like crazy, the water evaporating as soon as it got to my skin. I needed cool water and lots of it.
And here’s a bonus: Take cool showers. Take two or three if you want, but I always take one just before bed to cool me off and make it much easier to drift off to sleep.
*(I know about Copernicus and the whole heliocentrism thing but it’s easier to say the sun moves rather than the earth moves.)
Any hints on how to keep cool without AC? Spill!