Is It Possible To Live Without Air Conditioning in North Central Texas?Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Is It Possible To Live Without Air Conditioning in North Central Texas?

23 June 2010 at 10:13:36 AM

Yes. We have the AC cranked up today. Yes. We had some really low electricity bills up until the time we turned on the AC INCLUDING running fans. Gary who used to work at the Glen Rose post office told me one time that his electricity bills were really low in the summer because he has trees all around his house.

When we had our house built, we did it on top of a hill, no trees, rock, etc. Started planting trees, some of which are now getting pretty big, and, particuilarly on the west side, some crepe myrtles are of a size to block the sun-you can feel a temperature drop when you walk around them. Also have a couple of chinese pistaches with a hammock in between-the other day I planted a crepe myrtle on the other side of one of the trees and hope in a few years that it makes it even more shady and cool under the pistaches.

I've been considering awnings for awhile as well. However, it's so dang windy here and, with unexpected violent thunderstorms, I don't think I want something hanging off a window that could get ripped off while breaking the window-heh. Maybe a nice inside shutter or screen that cuts down the heat.

Anyway, I"ve been wondering what people even did before A/C. Obviously they had to cope with really hot summers down here. I assume that people had porches for a reason, not only to block the sun but to provide a breezy place to sleep at night. And I've decided one trick to keeping a house cooler in the summer is to keep the windows open at night but the close them once the house starts heating up the next day so that you're not blowing hot air around.

Also been thinking about a whole house fan. I meant to have it put into this house when we built it and forgot. I kind of love the idea that hot air would be sucked up through the attic and sent out while cooler air would be pulled through windows.

Now, I'm not talking to anyone that lives up north (of Texas). I've been some of those places in the summer and the heat doesn't even compare. Heck, I know cars don't require A/C up north. THEY DO HERE.

But if you were going to do it, going to really try to fix your house so that you could have it be cool the entire summer and not have any A/C, how would you do it? What would you do?

UPDATE: I've noticed that the sun on the east side is quite hot-I had thought maybe it was only when the sun got overhead on the south side that things would heat up. Nope. So one of the first things I'm doing right now is to make a sun shade for the porch on the east side with some 70 percent cooleroo shade material, and also a couple of drawable curtains for another part of the porch. I also got enough material to make a shade for a very large window on the south side. The material is supposed to block 70 percent of the sun's rays. I'm going to take some old umbrella canvas cloth to make edgings for the cloth and then put in grommets. Not sure yet if I will try to do something to pull up the shade when not being used or what, say, roman shade style. For the curtans, same thing with some edging and then I need to get a long curtain rod or a long piece of pipe to hang at the top of the interior porch ceiling and put in grommets at the top edge of the curtain. What I envision is that, unless it is raining and the wind is blowing hard (as it does sometimes around here), I'd leave up the shade and draw the curtains closed for the morning, opening them after the sun passes up to the south and overhead. That will keep the sun from shining directly onto the house on the east, and should take the house longer to heat up. ON the shade I want to make for the window on the south, same thing- keeping the sun off the glass, even though I have a curtain on the inside, ought to significantly keep that room cooler.

We also have plans to add a porch to one part of the south side, but want to try doing solar panels on the roof, so haven't quite worked that one out yet-however, in theory, that ought to work pretty good to keep the sun off the building while gathering energy.

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1 - humanbeing   23 Jun 2010 @ 5:43:36 PM 

If you had the luxury of starting from scratch, you could choose some different building technologies, such as insulated concrete forms, rammed earth or earthcast structures that don't experience the temperature swings our traditional structures suffer from. An earth-bermed house if also an option. Then of course is the siting of your structure (difficult in urban areas) to catch the breezes properly. Overhangs for the south and west sides. Yes, an attic fan really helps (so does a ridge vent for the roof, gable vents, radiant barriers for the attic). High-dollar windows, placed appropriately, thermal shades and lots of green things growing around. Geo-thermal A/C and heat is catching on, too.

Then, peel down to your underwear, sprinkle yourself with the hose, SLOW down, slow down, bird watch, read, ruminate...if you can't get out of it, get in to it.

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2 - salon   23 Jun 2010 @ 6:15:20 PM 

Well, heh, do NOT have the luxury..... I think hub is going to put in a vent in the attic, and in the fall, I want to put in a whole house fan. I planted some more trees today and am going to water like crazy. And YES, did soak myself with the hose!

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3 - humanbeing   23 Jun 2010 @ 6:46:39 PM 

I don't have that luxury, either, salon. One word about the attic: I really think attics are nothing but wasted space with a lot of expensive problems. Howevere, high ceilings have always been used in warm climates because hot air rises. Get rid of the attic, architects. Would any of you builders/architects out there have opinions about this?

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