In the times before electric air conditioning became widely available people used other means to keep their homes and other buildings cool. Over the years, many of these methods of cooling have been forgotten or largely ignored due to the relative ease of cooling with electric air conditioners.
In recent years builders have built well insulated houses without regard for ventilation or other natural methods of keeping a house cool. The windows in some houses are not placed strategically to catch a breeze, there are typically fewer windows, and some of them don’t even open at all.
Lately, there has been renewed interest in how the older homes were built to take advantage of the natural elements to lessen their dependence on mechanical air conditioning. Whether your purpose is to cut down on your cooling bill or eliminate it altogether, you can benefit by taking advantage of some of the methods used by the old timers that were off grid and had no access to electricity.
Here are just some of the methods they used;
- Location; The old timers always tried to put their houses in a position to take advantage of the prevailing breeze.
- They placed their windows strategically throughout the house to take advantage of available breezes.
- They used higher ceilings to allow space for the hot air to rise out of their living area.
- Some had double roofs with air space in between to prevent heating from the ceiling.
- Many had underground basements for a cool room.
- They would roof over an area between 2 buildings for a “breezeway”.
- Many of the castles and abbeys in Europe had clay tile lined tunnels beneath them from which air was drawn into the building by opening the upper windows releasing the hot air and drawing in cool air from the tunnels by convective current.
These are just some of the many methods used before air conditioning was widely available. There are many more but these will hopefully get you thinking about what can be used to advantage in your own circumstances. Not every method is practical in all situations and some, like a second roof or tunnels for cool air, are downright expensive.
There are also many smaller things you can do to keep your dwelling cooler;
- Put awnings over the windows to keep out the direct sunlight.
- Grow shrubs around the house to keep the sun off the exterior walls.
- Open windows and encourage ventilation in the night and early morning while the air is cool.
- Keep an aquarium or indoor fountain as evaporating water cools the surrounding air.
- Keep indoor plants for the same reason.
- If you have 2 stories, keep the upstairs windows open and a couple open downstairs. This will set up convection current and draw fresh air into the downstairs windows.
There are an unlimited number of things you can do to keep your house cooler if you just think about it. None of these things is likely to keep your house as cool as electric air conditioning but, used together, some of these things will keep your house cooler and cut down on the air conditioning bill, and if you live in a place where it doesn’t get too hot, may eliminate the need for air conditioning altogether.
For this and other money saving articles of interest to off gridders and those that want to be off grid go to ; http://www.offgridok.com/ .