Saturday, February 26, 2011

On Not Having Air Conditioning in the Heat

It is hot...again. We are now breaking records for the longest Perth period of over 30 degree maximums, and over 26 degree (Celsius) minimums. Add some unaccustomed high humidity caused by tropical cyclones off the north west coast of WA and it is very uncomfortable at times.

We don't have air-conditioning in this house.

We have shadecloth blinds over the windows to keep out the heat. They stay up all summer long.
  • we have planted trees on the northern boundary -in the future their shade will be very welcome.One is a deciduous quince and will let light in during the winter months, one is further away and is an olive tree. Both have the potential of providing us with yummy things to eat.
  • We have ceiling fans
  • we have shade sails over areas to the west where the late afternoon sun beats on the house
  • The rear of the house has a covered patio area for shade and a retreat place when the house gets hot
  • The recently built carport over the driveway provides some respite from heat baking down on the paved area, and provides afternoon shade to the northern front garden.
You can see a number of these features here and here

There are a number of reasons we don't have air conditioning, but the main one is our concern for the environment. Our city in summer uses MASSIVE amounts of electricity...some summer days in the past our electrical company has towed out huge generators to add load capacity to certain suburbs which are known excessive users of power on hot days, as everyone runs their refrigerated air conditioners to the max.

Power costs have risen over 40% over the last few years. MY DH and I hope to work less at some time in the future, and we don't want to be dependent upon systems which are expensive to keep running.

Lots of Perth homes have evaporative air conditioning, which used to work quite well at pretty low power use when our summers were the usual hot dry affairs typical of a Mediterranean climate, but they don't work in higher humidity. They were also indicated as the principal cause of over half of the houses which caught on fire in Kelmscott and Rolystone a few weeks ago.

This week we have planned a few more ways in which we could improve the comfort in our home.
  • One western wall gets a lot of afternoon sun, and the room behind it gets very hot-noticeably hotter than the rest of the house. We installed a temporary shade structure and immediately noticed the difference. The way we plan to go is to install an under-eave water tank on this wall, which will shade and insulate at the same time, and when it is full provide some extra water for the garden.
  • We have ordered a screen door for our front door, which will allow us to get any breeze that is going through the house. After we installed our beautiful new front door, we were reluctant to put anything ugly next to it. We have finally found and ordered a simple, old fashioned wooden screen door and it should be installed in a few weeks.
Meantime I am making iced tea and cold coffee for refreshing summer drinks, and planning lots of cold meals! Roll on autumn!


Sharon said...

I can't wait for autumn as well. I have had enough of these hot and humid days and nights. We still have at least another month of hot weather to get through yet!

Debbie said...

I can't wait for the Autumn weather to kick in too.
It is so draining not having cool nights so you can sleep comfortably
and reguvenate for the next day. We have had humidity and hot nights( over 20c) now for months and I am sick of it. It will be April before it starts getting nice here.