A portable air conditioner or window unit can keep your place nice and chill even during the hottest summer months. But if you're looking for a way to stay cool without blowing up your energy bills, consider these ways to air out your home without cranking the A/C.
1: The Cross Breeze
Best for: A single floor
If there’s a breeze, open a window on the side of the house receiving the breeze, and another on the opposite side. Using a smaller opening on the breeze (intake) side and a larger opening on the exhaust side will increase the airspeed through the house. Strategically open and close doors to force air through the rooms you want to cool. If there isn’t a breeze, you can use fans to create one. The intake window should be on the home’s coolest external wall; put a fan in the window facing into the room to suck in cool air. A fan facing out an open window on another external wall exhausts warm air.
2: The Thermal Chimney
Best for: Multiple Floors
Open the lowest windows on the coolest exterior wall of the house. Then open the highest windows in the house. Hot air goes out the top windows, creating a vacuum that pulls in cool air from the downstairs windows. That cooler air absorbs warmth, rises, and continues the cycle. This can also cool an attic. Install soffit vents for intake, and exhaust vents at the high point of the roof. A vented attic is generally about 30 degrees cooler than an unvented attic, and losing that hot air will cool upper floors.
3. Make Your Own Air Conditioner
Best for: When the other ways can't hack it
Okay, maybe it’s not technically an air conditioner, since a true a/c both cools and removes moisture. This won’t do the latter. But a bunch of ice is much cheaper than a refrigerant loop.
1. Pick up a from your local convenience store. The lid must be large enough for you to cut out a hole the size of your fan. (A standard floor fan separated from its post will work.)
2. Trace your fan’s outline on the cooler lid. Cut out the hole.
3. Trace and cut a couple holes for air outlets. You want to be able to insert some kind of pipe or tube to direct the air. Toilet-paper rolls will work, but elbow fittings are best, because they can be rotated in the hole to redirect output.
4. Fill the cooler with ice. (Note: Block takes the longest to melt.) Put the lid in place, insert the fan facedown, and turn it on.
This appears in the July/August 2018 issue.