Tuesday, July 6, 2010

99 in the shade

Yes, it's hot.  But even as the indoor/outdoor thermometer was showing 99º in the shady backyard (I refused to look at the thermometer out front in full sun), the inside temperature never topped 80º today.  Not bad considering we don't run A/C.

When we bought this house, it needed a new roof and I don't just mean the shingles needed replacing.  When we chose the trusses we went with a 36" overhang for the eaves to help shade the windows on hot summer days.  I also put those 1" metal mini-blinds at every window -- they are an off-white like the walls and woodwork so can either blend in or unobtrusively hide behind other window treatments as desired.  Plus DH installed a whole house fan in the central hall's ceiling to help bring in the late evening's cooler outside air.  And last year, DH finally got to mark another item off his to-do list when he installed (with some help from my uncle) new windows all-around.  Unfortunately, we're still waiting for a time when we can upgrade the insulation...

But for now, we open the windows when the outside air cools down and turn on the whole house fan in order to pull the cooler air inside.  Then, during the heat of the day, we keep windows and doors closed and draw the blinds so the house maintains that coolness.  Every room has a ceiling fan that we can switch on as needed, too.

So it gets hot -- sometimes the steel front door is hot to the touch on the INSIDE, but unless the humidity goes above 60% or so it doesn't feel any worse than it might if we ran the central air.  I think it's even better because in previous years (this is the second summer for our "no a/c" policy) when we'd break down and turn on the air, many nights it would be cooler outside than in since we set the thermostat high (78º or 80º) to conserve energy and money. 

This is the second house we've put a whole house fan in. I grew up with one my dad had purchased thru the Sears catalog so I knew how effective they can be. DH was willing to give it a try at the other house and then, when we moved here, it was one of the first things he worked on. And considering how much work this house needed, that says a lot. If you're looking at ways to reduce the cost of cooling your house, consider a whole house fan. They're relatively inexpensive to buy, easy to install and cheap to run when compared with the A/C. Drawbacks? Can be noisy, check out the sound levels as it varies between models (direct drive vs. belt driven).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Too hot, too dry -- negative waves abound

This was today's harvest.  A few cucumbers, squash, bell peppers and a variety of tomatoes -- plus one shallot I pulled to check their progress.  Not too bad, huh?  Well, take a good look because it may be the best of the season.

Our garden is wilting from the heat and lack of rain.  After more than four weeks without any rain, DH used the last of the collected rainwater over a week ago.

Much of May and June was hot -- days over 90ºF. and nighttime lows tended to stay above 70º.  After a slight reprieve last week, the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Watch for the next few days.  That means it's likely to hit triple digits.  And, other than a very slight chance of thunderstorms at the end of the week, there's no rain in sight.

The melons and winter squash in the photo above are mulched with straw.  Can you tell the difference between the straw mulch and the regular grass "growing" in the upper right of the picture?  The late-planted tomatoes are coming into bloom but I have serious doubts they will produce much edible fruit.  Blossom-end rot is a killer when the water supply's erratic.  The second planting of beans is looking good but I expect it will start to show the effects of no rain before many days pass.  Yes, I know, "always with the negative waves, Moriarity, always with the negative waves."  I'll try to do better tomorrow.