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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Melting in New Hampshire



It's been hot in humid lately in New Hampshire. Even in the north of the state, it was humid and in the 90s. Most southerners would find it uncomfortable. Why's that? It's because I have no air conditioning. There has never been much need for it in the past. Lately, however, I've begun to wonder. The AC is out of order in my van, so there's no relief there either.

For off-grid people, keeping cool is problematic. Regular air conditioners use a lot of power. It would take a huge solar electric array to power even a moderate system. Swamp coolers are more efficient, but not very effective in humid areas.

Clever use of shade and natural breezes can take the edge off. There are good reasons old southern homes were constructed the way they were, with big windows that open, good cross ventilation and porches to relax on.

Some find relief by building underground, but that's not for everyone.

While there are many ways to find relief, nothing compares to the brute force of a powerful air conditioner.

As for me, I'm sitting under a ceiling fan, drinking plenty of water. At least my solar panels can handle the load of a few fans.

Now if someone would just invent an efficient wood fired air conditioner, they'd really have something.

-Sixbears



23 comments:

  1. I'm sure they could build an efficient wood air-conditioner - for enough money.

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  2. A wood fired air conditioner is easy chop 3 cords of wood for a 10 H.P. steam engine attach a 3200 watt generator plug in air conditioner.next day repeat!!! :} Or srip naked and go swimming

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    Replies
    1. Think I'll grab a cold beer and take it for a swim. How's that work for you?

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  3. I feel your discomfort.
    It was 91 here yesterday and get this, the newspaper said the humidity would be "somewhere between 30 and 70 percent"
    They aren't even trying.
    It was so damn humid huge drops of water would start spattering the pavement with just an overcast sky.
    90 percent or better the way I saw it.
    Miserable and then have to go to work with giant furnaces running.
    Even though they are electric and enclosed , every time one of them opened up you wanted to fall over.
    The A/C in the shop isn't working but you know it's bad when you walk into an 80 degree shop and it feels cool.

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    Replies
    1. My daughter works as a baker in a big hotel. Someone stole their fan. Not a good day for her.

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  4. I don't think I could ever entertain the idea of living with air conditioning, no matter how hot living became... perhaps hand held fans could be an answer or a cold water bath to immerse in once in a while... funny isn't it, we complain about the cold in winter and the heat of the summer...

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    Replies
    1. Funny indeed.

      I'm more used to a wide range of temperatures than I once was. A certain amount of adaptation is possible.

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  5. Hot here too in N/W Jersey. Just because we have the mountains doesn't make it cool. Using a lot of water to keep the veggie garden alive.
    All of our rain barrels are empty (again).

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    Replies
    1. We should all get a break in a few days, according to the weatherman, otherwise known as the Prince of Lies.

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  6. Architecture in historic times down here in south Texas was:

    Build foundation on poles - trailer houses have this same feature :^).

    High clerestory windows for venting hot air from interiors (remember those clerestory awning windows above the doors in old houses?).

    Present day - Venting your attic with a attic fan on gable ends. Attics gain about 150% of outside heat (Air temp is 100 degrees, attic air is around 150 degrees (!!).

    There is now a radiant sheet barrier that can be tacked onto bottom of roof joists to mirror heat back outside, insulating the attic air. There have been reports of these 'cooking' the roofing quicker, but I have no idea if this is true or not.

    Right now, its pretty cool in south Texas due to rain clouds, but it gets pretty hot otherwise. Hope your weather changes for the better.

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    1. We build with the idea of retaining heat, because winters are so cold. Small windows to reduce heat loss. At least the heavy insulation helps both ways.

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  7. Maybe you need to come down here or to your Dad's house for the summer to get cooled off (grin).

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    Replies
    1. Might be just the thing. At least you guys have AC.

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  8. I really enjoy your blog posts. They are short, sweet, and make you think!
    I like to rib my brother about his moving up to the northeast from south Texas and his complaining about the 92* "hot" weather while we are sittin' pretty in 105*. Of course, we spend everyday from 11 am to 5-6 pm in the a/c ...and the skeeters and fire/crazy ants sometimes drive you inside other times all day. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't rib him quite so much and move to a place where the summer high is 92* and enjoy life!.
    Clem

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    Replies
    1. . . . but it's a dry heat, right? :)

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    2. I said that about the high desert I live in Idaho and a newbie replied so is an oven! Lol

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  9. Years ago the folks at The Shelter Institute were working on realizing their dream of 'phase-change solar panels' to be used as a source of hot water (via an heat exchange) as well as cold air (again an heat exchange, but water to air). Seeing as I can't really find any reference to the system via Google I'll assume they abandoned the idea due to divorce, financial constraints, technical constraints, etc.

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    Replies
    1. I've come across so many clever sounding ideas that never make it into the real world. Some just weren't all that clever. Others might not have been cost effective at the time. Then there are ideas that might have been great, but circumstances, like you stated, prevented them from seeing the light.

      Off the top of my head, I see there might have problems with the working fluid, assuming it was done that way. Leaks? Cost? Who knows?

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  10. It's been in the triple digits though humidity is under 30% and I have a very cool yard, well shaded my fruit trees. But that said the heat has been brutal this year, almost normal for SW Idaho.
    I picked up a couple of stand misters for cooling the patio and if you have a little water pressure these help a lot especially if you have a breeze or a fan.
    Big Lot's has a light canvas paint drop cloth you can buy for $8.00-$14.00 and I was very impressed how good they are for providing shade but aren't so heavy they block the breeze.
    I read a post about a fellow down in Texas that put a sprinkler or soaker hoses up on his roof and claimed that it reduced the heat in the house by about 10 degrees.

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    Replies
    1. All excellent suggestions.

      I think I'll buy some cold beers and go soak in the lake.

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  11. Have you considered a heat pump? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pump We have solar, grid tied, and replaced our bulky non-efficient air conditioner with a couple of these babies. In the last 3 years since our purchase they have become even more energy efficient. We also use wood to do the bulk of our heating. It's on when it gets way hot like this past week. I DON"T do well in the heat. During this heat the unit in the bedroom was turned on at night when we are sleeping and we turn it off when we leave the room. These units not only cool but also heat. Some down to minus 15 degrees. We use them during the transition time between warm weather and the cold fall (we live in se Michigan). We feel it's so much more efficient to heat the room you are in not the rest of the rooms you don't use for hours on end. Our woodstove (actually it's a fireplace insert) in winter keeps our 1500 sq foot ranch toasty warm and the bedrooms a nice 67 degrees. So while the heat pump is not wood fired, we feel it's the next best thing.

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