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).


A Brush with Color said...

That was an informative post, Carolyn! I don't think I realized how a full house fan worked before, but it does sound very effective. We had an attic fan, before we had a/c in our house as kids, but I never felt a damn bit of difference from that thing! It is definitely hot right now, isn't it!

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

LOL! I wrote this post because I was tired of having to explain how we can "survive" without a/c.

Apparently a lot of people have experience with an attic fan but not so many have used a whole house fan because the usual response is "I didn't know they worked like that!"

And an attic fan doesn't make me feel a damn bit cooler either no matter how well it may serve to exhaust hot air from the attic. Stay cool!

Anonymous said...

Am thinking we need to check into a whole house fan. So is your direct drive or belt driven? I need to make the investment of new shades for our windows (lots of windows!) Ours are needing replaced but what a difference they make!

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...


Our current fan is a belt-drive. It is louder than the one in our old house which was direct drive but my uncle gave DH this one when we moved. Brand-new and free vs. another expense when we had all the costs of just getting the house livable so we can move in? Yeah, I'm frugal... ;)

Do miss the more variable speed, tho. This one is just high-low-off. If it ever fails or I have money to throw around (ha!) I'd probably replace it with the direct-drive type.

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

Uh-oh. DH just read my reply, Debbie, and he says I have it backwards. We currently have a direct-drive and the one at the old house is belt-driven. Well, no points for knowing they're different if I can't tell you which is which, huh?

I can say, with absolute accuracy, that our current whole house fan has a pull chain and the old one had a nice wall-mounted dial with variable speed. ;) Which DH says means this one was slightly easier to install, too.

LauraP said...

We had a whole house fan years ago and went 5 years without turning on the AC. They're terrific. We'll eventually figure out how to have one here in this house with all its attic and eave oddities.

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

Good luck sorting out a spot, LauraP. Our house has an almost perfect spot for the fan, where the hallway and entryway meet. In a house where doorways and fixtures were set in the oddest places, it was nice to find one thing that worked perfectly.

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