Who Needs Air Conditioning Anyway?

Many homes in Mount Rainier were built in the early 1900’s before air conditioning really existed. This month we’ll learn how one resident, Jodi-beth, and her family still lives comfortably without the AC – saving money while also being green.

First her family insulated their small attic space, the walls, and the basement and sealed up leaks in the foundation. You want to keep the cool air inside. An energy audit, like we talked about in January, is helpful to figuring out where you need insulation.

Then they make sure to keep the blinds closed on sunny days which limits the sun’s heat. You can even find blinds or curtains designed to reflect the sun’s light in the summer to add the effect.

They also installed a whole house fan in an upstairs window, which they turn on at night once the outside temperature is cooler than the inside temperature. In the morning they turn it off in the early morning and close all the windows to keep the cooler air in the house through all of the day. You might not have even realized that many houses in town were designed to use a staircase in the center of the house to assist helping the hot air flow through an upstairs window.

Finally, they installed a heat pump water heater in the basement. It heats water year round by taking the heat out of the air to heat water and then blows out cold air. It serves as an air conditioner in the insulated basement – and all for the cost of heating water.

But is it worth it? It indeed is. In the hot of summer they would only have an electric bill of about $75 per month if they didn’t have solar panels lowering their bill even more. And even if you don’t think you can give up the AC cold turkey, you can do all of these things anyway to lower the amount the AC needs to work when it is on.