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As the spring sun is giving our house really nice passive solar heat now, in a couple of months we are wondering how to not have the sun heat our house so much.

I thought it would be nice to create a wiki thread about ways to cool a house without electricity.

I'll start with

shading:

- At Wheaton Labs they have actual set up huge sunshades to keep a structure cooler in the summer heat. Related to that: Meet Bob. I think Bob is brilliant.
- Structuring south facing windows and eaves so that they let in more sunlight in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky and and less sunlight in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky.
- Plant trees on the southern side of the house. Or vines! Maybe they could produce food too.

reflecting the sun
- White walls and/or roof will reflect the sunlight instead of sucking the heat in. (In a colder climate a darker coloured walls might make sense to gain passive heating!)



This thread could eventually become a part of the recipes to cut your own carbon footprint thread!
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master gardener
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For some more traditionally built homes, the color of your exterior walls/roof can either help retain heat if it is darker or reflect it away if it is lighter.
 
gardener
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Timothy Norton wrote:For some more traditionally built homes, the color of your exterior walls/roof can either help retain heat if it is darker or reflect it away if it is lighter.



Yes! I'll add it to the list! Thank you!
 
gardener
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Structuring south facing windows and eaves so that they let in more sunlight in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky and and less sunlight in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky...as well as planting trees on that side that shade the side of the house in summer and let light in when the leaves are off in the fall/winter/spring...

That's two ways I know of... classical solar radiation management.

j
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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Thank you Jim, added to the list!
 
pollinator
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Old buildings may be a good place to look.
Passive cooling may be worth a look.
‘heavy stone walls (adobe..) for thermal mass,
‘courtyards https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095263517300249
 
pollinator
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I would start with ways to not get the house hot, esp by humans so my list would look like this.

Clothes Dryer would be outside, a clothes line would be even better
Washing Machine would also be outside
Oven would be outside, maybe it could be a countertop steam oven on a back porch or outside oven
Stove/Cooktop would be outside, maybe use a solar cooker
Cooking, kind of a repeat of the two above, and so yes outside, by maybe I would eat more raw food, spourt and ferment stuff more, use an insulated cooker?
Steamy Showers, I would try and do these outside too. at the very least, use less energy with a bathroom fan.
Electronics/Tools, all the energy that your tools and electronic use turn into heat that is trapped inside the house so, use them outside or none at all.

Shading, think greenroof and greenwalls, oak trees, bean trellis, roof overhangs, outside blinds
Reflective, somewhat similar to shading, but usually it's just painting the walls/roof a light color like white.
Thermal Mass, your house could just be the weekly temp average vs  gettin super hot and then cold, like you are a baby stuck in a park car at high-noon.
Insulation, this would mean that alot less heat makes it into the building.

If we are going to go the route of using less electricity vs "zero-electricity"
Venting,  venting the kitchen/stove and the bathroom/laundry room will help alot.
ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator), these can bring in make-up air that is dehumidifed and cooled by the outgoing air
Heat Pump, due to the stable ground/pond temp, they use alot less electricity, I wonder if a pool would also work?
 
pollinator
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Back in the 19th and first part of the 20th century in South Asia, some houses had tatty shades, they were made from reeds, and you'd get them wet in the morning and they would dry in the heat of the day, but make things slightly cooler and you would keep them down all day long in the hot season to keep the house shaded and cooler.

More modern equivilents that work for me in my household are having windows open overnight and in the morning to let in air, then closing them around 11am to hold in the cooler air.  Keeping things shaded, curtains closed etc.
 
author and steward
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my quick list ....

cooking:

   - haybox cooker (better if you have a spot outdoors)
   - instapot (better if you have a spot outdoors)
   - an outdoor kitchen
   - more cold meals
   - perhaps cooking is restricted to the cooler morning
   - overnight cooking (better if you have a spot outdoors)

shading

   - hang shades from the eaves (burlap, fabrics, or roll up bamboo)
   - the bob system has shade over the roof
   - solar panels a few inches higher than the roof
   - layers of shade
   - growies growing up walls, or near walls (trellis?) that shade the building
   - create shaded spaces near or attached to the house
   - a huge porch
   - window awnings / shade windows so the glass does not heat up

windows shades, curtains and window quilts

   - windows might be open during the night, and closed with shades and curtains during the day
   - a really good window quilt system could provide extra protection from the heat
   - possibly two layers of accordian style window blinds

trees

   - just more trees overall
   - most homes can have their foundation screwed up if trees are too close
       - if your home does not have that problem, then deciduous trees that grow higher than the roof
   - one really tall tree has cool our pouring out of it


misters near (or on) the house

   - if you have infinite, free water


thermal mass indoors

   - if you live in a climate that gets cool at night, a lot of thermal mass indoors will carry the cool of the night through the day

rocket mass heater

   - leave the wood feed open and open your windows at night


vent your attic space

insulate your home

power down as many electric contraptions as you can through the summer

wofati

cool the people instead of the whole house

   - wetted bandana around the neck
   - personal fan and a wet wash cloth
   - just wetting your hands and forearms makes a big difference!
   - slushies sweetened with stevia!
   - drink more water
   - cool showers mid afternoon
   - switchel, electrolytes,  ...

if you have a lawn, a tall turf is cooler than a short turf

if you are going to use a/c, maybe just in one room instead of the whole house?

An all-aluminum trough makes a great wading pool that lasts for years!

Hang your laundry to dry outside.  It creates shade near your home and as the water evaporates, it cools.

 
pollinator
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How to cool is going to be very dependent on your location.   Here we cool off at night so all the windows are left open at night and shut and covered during the day. If we need an extra boost a damp sheet over a window open to catch a breeze/the wind will help a lot.  
In Houston where I spent my teen years the above would be nearly worthless in summer if not make things worse.   There large wrap around porches, windows set to catch the faintest breeze but shaded from sun are needed, tall ceilings let the heat rise.  Some of the old houses even had a "chimney" in the center that led to a roof with side vents to let the heat go up and out.  
 
pollinator
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Geothermal without radon danger—another project id like to see. I guess earth tubes routed to a solar chimney directly and closed off from what folks breathe. Distribute the radon out the chimney into the air around—hopefully dilute enough to be harmless…this radon thing is a big hang up in the northeast US as far as hampering cooling methods.

Alternatively, cool stuff down with the earth tubes/in the basement and then haul it up to sit on outside the basement?
 
pioneer
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Uhm... move it to Scotland?  0=oD

It was mind-blowing to me as a youngster when I visited Florida and people went *inside* to cool down.

Sorry I don't have any actual solutions to offer, I just couldn't stop myself getting a dig in at the Scots climate!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Geothermal without radon danger—another project id like to see. I guess earth tubes routed to a solar chimney directly and closed off from what folks breathe. Distribute the radon out the chimney into the air around—hopefully dilute enough to be harmless…this radon thing is a big hang up in the northeast US as far as hampering cooling methods.

Alternatively, cool stuff down with the earth tubes/in the basement and then haul it up to sit on outside the basement?



How about a chimney mass cooler?  Route an earth tube through the mass of your rocket mass heater, and maybe add some black wrapping around the chimney outside?  The hot air pulls up and out while the coolest air is still cool indoors?  Will it be too heavy to draw?  How much does air flow through earth anyway? Do you need another earth tube at a slight angle as an inlet joining the intake tube down below ground?
 
paul wheaton
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maybe we need to add something about natural swimming pools?
 
pollinator
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"windows might be open during the night, and closed with shades and curtains during the day"
This can make a huge difference, when you have nice cool nights, like it is now in Ohio. My older house is also shaded by three large silver maples and I only use the AC  a few days a year, mostly due to hot days that are also very humid and I need to get some sleep on the second floor.
 
pollinator
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Here is an idea that will work for some people and not for others, depending on your roofing material.  Green roofs or wooden shake roofs would not work.  But if one has a durable material roof - such as a metal roof, slate roof, tile roof, or shingle roof - then rooftop irrigation is a proven option.  You set up a dripline or mister that continually wets the roof during the daytime, and adjust the water flow so that all or nearly all of the water has evaporated by the time it flows down to the eaves.

You could use pressurized water - i.e. out of your water main if you are on city water - for a constant flow rate.  Or you could set up a solar-powered DC pump out of a large trough or rain barrel.  The latter has the added feature that it pumps more water onto your roof when it is needed most, which is when the sun is shining brightest.  Also, you don't have to remember to turn it off overnight; it just stops pumping when the sun goes down.

The evaporation cools the roofing material.  The cool roof does NOT transfer heat to your attic.  With a cooler attic, it is easier to keep the living space below cool as well through any of the various means already mentioned in other posts.  Keep in mind that most of the heat gained or lost from any structure is through the roof.
 
out to pasture
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Clothes Dryer would be outside, a clothes line would be even better



I hang damp laundry INDOORS during the summer months for the evaporative cooling effect.

It's also gentler on the clothes than putting them outside in our harsh sun.

During the winter, I dry outside in daylight hours. When I don't need the cooling but the sun is brighter, I dry overnight outside. During the heat of summer, indoors!
 
S Bengi
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I like to dry outside in the summer due to the super high humidity, here on the east cost of USA. And in the winter I like to dry inside because the air is too dryndue to the furnace. But with you being on the west coast I can see you having the opposite in terms of humidity problems.
 
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I live in a very very hot and dry area during summer - 110 degrees or more daily for weeks but it does cool during nights into 50s-60s most of those nights. My solution has been to stop work by noon and live in my pool (which is under a shade tree). I wear my usual clothes in the pool and when I get out I let my cool wet clothing keep cooling me for hours longer. Often I can get a few more hours of work done in the evening when the breeze comes up.

Also consider the venturi effect as an option for cooling near buildings. I like many of the other solutions but as I HATE humid weather, I have nothing to add for those in that type of climate.
 
gardener
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Cooling people, not spaces

I'd take a look at this list and see what works for you.

Damp bandana on your neck
Damp clothes
Damp shoes

Personal shade:
Shemagh
-Shemagh worn loose in the Saudi style

Loose long sleeve shirt or even a loose sweatshirt. Landscapers often take this route

Straw hat
Wearable Umbrellas
Wearable pods
 
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I saw a youtube recently of how to DIY radiant/infrared cooling paint


that paint could then be used in a north-sky-facing "window solar heater" (similar to pictured below)

to make a cooler.
 
pollinator
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Here, in the South of France, where summer temperature can reach 40C, and like most of Southern Europe, we use thick wooden shutters.

We open all the windows and shutters at night when the temperature has come down and by 9 am, we close windows and shutters to keep the freshness in.  We keep the shutters on a latch so that a small ray of light comes into the house.  It is essential to keep the windows shut, but I guess it helps that the old houses have 30 to 50cm thick stone walls!

(In the winter, we do the opposite, close the shutters as soon as it gets dark and the temperature deeps. Those stone walls become a thermal mass then and the shutters keep the heat in.)

Double glazing and good insulation help of course as previously mentioned.  Heavy curtains (drapes), lined with insulating fabric can play the role of shutters to some extend.

Our house is south facing but has a large ancient linden tree in front of it that provides shade and has a cooling effect.  I prefer shade from trees rather than awnings for cooling a house.

Outdoor kitchen.  Doesn't need to be elaborate.  Simple cooking facilities under a shelter is sufficient and keep the cooking to early morning or early evening.  Same with the laundry.

That is for the house.  To keep myself cool,  I have found that in the hottest part of the season, it is better for me to get up at the crack of dawn, work until 10 or 11 and have a sleep in the afternoon.  Resume work outdoors when the temperature is bearable, until sundown.



 
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You mean western? Also, Bill says, no window or doors on the western wall.

Saana Jalimauchi wrote:
- Plant trees on the southern side of the house. Or vines!

 
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When looking at thermal heating and cooling, it is important to specify whether you are discussing this in the northern or southern hemisphere, or whether between the tropical bands (Cancer or Capricorn).

From my reading, the west side, especially during summer needs to be kept shaded which encourages cooling.  Between the tropical bands, the sun is pretty much overhead all year so a roof shade, with an air gap works very well.
In the southern hemisphere, we have trees at the south and western sides to stop the winter cold winds and make a winter heat trap.  The south-western quarter protects from the late afternoon summer heat.
 
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If you’re willing/able to do it yourself, radiant barrier is a decent bang for buck in warmer/hot climates. I like the idea of combining with trees on the north and west sides of the house.
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Rocket Scientist
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Shade trees a bit away from the western side of the house will keep summer sun out of west-facing windows on an existing house, yet allow winter afternoon sun in.

I am adding onto the west side of my kitchen/entry and my wife really wants to have a good view to the long driveway and visitors. A youngish hickory 30-40 feet due west along with some closer more southerly birches shade the big window as soon as the roof overhang stops shading it in summertime. In winter none of those trees blocks the sun's lower path.
 
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