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Improving insulation and passive cooling to existing home in southern Oregon

 
pollinator
Posts: 627
Location: Southern Oregon
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So, when we purchased our property I had no idea how hot the summers would be, the average temperature isn't that hotter than our previous home, but there is little variance. Where we lived previously had hot spells and mild spells, where we live now it's always hot (very little variance), this was not apparent in viewing simple data. We don't have whole house air conditioning. I have a small room air conditioner, as heat makes me ill. A fairly large swamp cooler was left on the property by the previous owners which we now use up at my daughters house to blow it out overnight. It appears that a fair amount of insulation has been added to the walls, ceilings, and crawl spaces. Both houses have attic fans, and double paned windows, but the house temperature currently is unbearable for us. Some ideas that we have come up with include, adding honeycomb blinds to more of the windows. putting exterior metal awning on the southern windows on my house, and getting another swamp cooler to help blow out my house overnight. Does anyone else have any better ideas, or more ideas?
 
gardener
Posts: 676
Location: Western Washington
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I used to live in Ashland and where I live now has surprisingly hot summers.

Trees on the easter, southern, and western side do make an enormous difference, though it will be time until they get tall enough. I know there's a lot of considerations with this like septic and falling branches.

I'd plant an outer ring further from your house of things like black locust and empress tree, and maybe some leyland cypress. Actually, that might be ok in the inner ring too (the cypress). Closer in to the house could go moderate grow trees that are less like to de limb in a big way (apple, cherry, etc). I'm no expert, this is just my take. I have no air conditioning now but there are ornamental cherry trees on my southern border and my house stays pretty cool (downstairs anyway) with just a fan

Yes, the shades on the windows will help a bit I think as well.
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
Location: nevada zone7
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vent heat out the top of your house, open upper attic access, windows, ect.
only use upstairs at night.
place bed near open window, or on a sleeping porch.
awnings to block windows.
hang wet sheets in front of open windows , create cross breezes.
cool off the house at night and keep it closed up and dark during the day.
white exterior walls and white rock roof to reflect the sun

is Oregon humid? if so a swamp cooler wont work very well.

 
James Landreth
gardener
Posts: 676
Location: Western Washington
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bernetta putnam wrote:vent heat out the top of your house, open upper attic access, windows, ect.
only use upstairs at night.
place bed near open window, or on a sleeping porch.
awnings to block windows.
hang wet sheets in front of open windows , create cross breezes.
cool off the house at night and keep it closed up and dark during the day.
white exterior walls and white rock roof to reflect the sun

is Oregon humid? if so a swamp cooler wont work very well.



Luckily it's a dry heat during summer! I'm unfamiliar with a swamp cooler though
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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Location: Southern Oregon
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bernetta - we pretty much do all of that already, it's proving to not be enough. Right now, it's not cooling off sufficiently at night. It's not humid here typically.

A swamp cooler is technically called an evaporative cooler. It uses about the same amount of energy as a fan, but blows over water and/or ice to increase cooling. It works well, but the house has to be open or the increase in humidity negates any decrease in temperature.
 
Posts: 29
Location: Portland, OR
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If its getting hotter in the building than it is outdoors then you've got an issue with solar heating!  Keeping the sun from hitting walls and roofs is critical ... and those that do get sun exposure need to be vented (especially roofs).  Roof ventilation is finicky, so don't presume that just because there are some vents that there is enough ventilation or that they are placed properly.*

Solar shade fabric - not unlike what many nurseries use - and sold under Coolaroo (sp?) and others - can do tremendous things.  Just hanging it from the eaves of the house to prevent full sun from hitting a wall works wonders.

Some photos of the house would be really helpful ...

* I once made the mistake of adding powered vents to a roof.  The logic was good ... the attic was so hot, it needed more ventilation and what's better than a powered fan?  But I didn't replace vents, I just added these and didn't make sure that my lower air-intakes were good.  The fan would blow ... but air was sucked IN through the other vents.  I effectively created an air barrier that prevented the passive exit of heat...
 
Posts: 758
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Consider adding a safari roof above the roof.
Such a device invovs creating shade,air gap and insulation to reduce the heat falling on the originl roof, and the cooling breeze that goes under the insulation sheet really helps
 
Posts: 70
Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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Stacy,

When you say attic fans do you mean through the roof?
My primary house is a hundred year old 2 story with a hip roof.
No AC.
I installed a through the roof exhaust fan as close to the peak as possible, and in summer I leave the attic door open.  It does an amazingly good job drawing the hot out of the house.

I have reason to appreciate how well it works, because the motor recently died (they last about a decade) and it's now too miserable up there to do the replacement.  The bedrooms are uncomfortable too.  You can bet I will get that motor switched out as soon as the weather cooperates.

In the new house on my ridgetop property, my SIL built a tall box dormer and I installed side windows that run parallel to the prevailing winds.  That too does a good job of sucking out hot air.

The other item you mention is ceiling insulation, but not roof insulation.  Putting fiberglass batts between roof rafters is essential.
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 627
Location: Southern Oregon
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The attic fan is at the peak, and it comes on when the temperature in the attic reaches a certain point. My house has two porches on the east and west sides which I have covered with shade cloth. The house is on a slope so the south side windows are 20 feet from the ground, so I was thinking that I could get some Coolaroo shades installed that I could raise and lower from porches, but I would have to get someone to install them.

An additional problem is that a lot of solutions seem to be bad for fire protection, creates more gaps when embers can go isn't recommended.

It's too hot to get into the attic at this point, but when it cools down I will have to see what's going on up there.
 
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Two things I might consider, first, the addition of shades over the window outdoors. You still see the old metal shades in some areas that haven’t been removed after AC became commonly available. Canvas shades could offer the same protection from the sun and have the advantage of not being super expensive. The extendable rollup shades that you often see on RVs offer a good solution and they can sometimes be found in working condition on CraigsList for less $. The new ones offer automatic controls that can detect when the wind gets too high and retract before being torn off the structure (a downside to using canvas, not too mention flapping noisily in the wind). I’ve considered getting one for some large windows on our south side of the city house.

The second thing relates to what was earlier spoken to, shade from trees. One way to gain the advantage of shade over your roof quickly would be to add a second roof over the existing roof, leaving a space allowing air to flow from the bottom of the eaves to the top, the action of which I am told cools the attic.

Planting those trees is probably a good idea as well if we are looking at super hot summers being the new normal.
 
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