{Green Living} Beating the Heat (and the Cold) with Smart Building

Recently, a facebook friend commented during a 100 degree heat wave that she still hadn”t turned on her air conditioner. As you can imagine, the comments blew up with people shocked at her statement, but I knew her secret.

Many houses today are built with huge expanses of glass, complete disregard for the sun”s orientation, then landscaped with miles of sod and no shade trees. Her house, on the other hand, was built when builders designed with climate in mind, making the a difference between a dependence on artificial climate control and the ability to stay relatively comfortable in the worst conditions.

While most of us can”t rebuild our houses, here are some tips from the past to help:

In hot weather:
– Plant deciduous trees, especially on the south and west sides. This will shade your house in summer, yet allow the natural solar energy to help heat your house all winter.

– Retractable awnings on south and west facing windows work as well as trees while you”re waiting for them to grow in. Many are cloth, and you might even be able to make your own!

Ventilate your attic properly, both for temperature regulation and to combat mold.

-Forgo A/C entirely for a whole house fan. Even here in the deep south, they work wonders. (this, btw, was my friend”s secret weapon!)

– Open your windows at night when it”s cool, but close them and draw the curtains once the sun starts to come up. Open both the top and bottom of your windows to allow the warmer air to escape from the top while cooler air flows in the bottom.

-If you want (or need) to keep the windows open all day, consider shutters. They keep light out, while allowing good air circulation. You can even get shuttered doors.

REALLY  hot day? Put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. Seriously, it works!

– If you get overheated, fill your bathtub with a couple inches of cold water and stand in it. Add ice if it”s super hot. You”ll be amazed at how fast this cools you down, and it”s great for right before bed.

In cold weather:
-Plant evergreen trees on the north and east faces of your home to help shield it from blustery winter winds.

Those deciduous trees you planted should have lost their leaves, allowing plenty of solar energy to flow right into your living room.

– yourself a good pair of wool slippers, and a warm blanket. You can keep the temps a little lower by insulating yourself! Or, make your own draft dodgers.

-Invest in weatherstripping, insulation and good thick curtains to keep what energy you are using right where it belongs; in your house!

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  1. I wasn’t used to AC before moving to California and it is still something i don’t use for a lot of reasons, even in the car… Sharing the tips!

  2. Fabulous tips that we love ourselves!

  3. You are so right about builders no longer constructing homes suited to sites or giving consideration to weather!
    I have a large, south facing window in my bedroom and my husband built a trellis just outside of it that has hop plants growing over it. It keeps our bedroom shady and cool all summer.

  4. Great tips, thank you :) I think that this photo belongs to someone on my Etsy team, and I don’t see her name below it. Photographers should have their work credited on websites. Thanks!

    • It is Kanelstrand’s photo, she is on this team. Her name is supposed to be in the caption, I’m not sure why it’s not showing up.