Cooling without air conditioning

Cooling without air conditioningSummer is always a mixed bag. Sunshine is always nice, but the heat can make you downright uncomfortable. Cooling your space not only feels good, it also helps avoid the dangerous consequences of overheating. But what’s the trick to cooling without air conditioning?

3 tips for cooling without air conditioning

Darken your space. A lot of heat that accumulates in the house during the summer comes from solar heat gain. Your space heats up when sun’s full spectrum light shines through your glass windows, UV radiation and all. The objects in your house (carpets, floors, furniture) absorb the UV radiation, then re-radiate it out into the room. If it also happens to be humid, that’s when things will get uncomfortable. The same thing happens in your car, except that your car is a very small, well sealed space compared to your house. The temperature in your car might shoot up 50° F in just a few minutes. The temperature rise in your house won’t be so extreme, but it will still be uncomfortable.

One key to cooling without air conditioning is to limit solar heat gain. Use shades, blinds or drapes on the east, south and west windows in your space. You can also install exterior awnings to limit direct sunlight without blocking out the windows.

Dry out your space. Humidity plays a big role in how you feel during the summer. Air takes on water when it’s dry, but doesn’t like to take on water when it’s already saturated. (The ideal humidity is 50%.) Water, including the water in the air, takes on heat. The more water in the air, the more heat the water can take on. An 80° F day in the summer will feel great when the relative humidity is 50%. Crank the humidity up to 80%, and your 80° F day will make you miserable.

Combine this with the fact that human beings are water-cooled. We sweat to transfer excess heat from our bodies to the air around us. If the air around us is already overly wet, our excess heat is going to stay put.

One key to cooling without air conditioning is to reduce the humidity in the air, so that it’s better able to take on water. That’s kind of what air conditioners do. A whole-house dehumidifier can help keep heavy humidity in check and make your surroundings more comfortable. Portable dehumidifiers usually end up heating up the space around them. Unless you can vent them to the outside, a portable dehumidifier may not be as helpful for cooling purposes.

Swamp cooler, anyone? In Boston, we’re much more likely to be overly humid than overly dry, but you can pull off evaporative cooling without an air conditioner when the humidity is low. A so-called “swamp cooler” can cool the air pretty effectively under the right conditions. With evaporative cooling, you actually add water mist to the air to reduce the temperature and increase the humidity. Both of these will make you more comfortable IF the temperature is high AND the humidity is low. You can fake a swamp cooler by putting a fan in front of a dish of cold water. (You could also put a lightweight damp cloth over the fan.) This will create a mist that will cool you off, and lower the temperature in the vicinity of the fan.

Depending upon your circumstances, you might want to consider a ductless cooling system. Ductless systems are affordable and highly efficient. They’ll also provide heat in the winter!

If you’re tired of trying to beat the heat, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can provide a range of options that can help keep you cool in the summer!

Photo Credit: Radu B, via FreeImages.com