Kris in Spokane asked: How can I keep my home cool without air conditioning?
Millions of people in North America and billions around the world have no access to air conditioning. So what can they do to keep themselves safe and cool when outdoor temperatures begin to rise?
It turns out that with a few fans, and a bit of creativity, you can help bring down indoor temperatures to a much safer and more comfortable level. Here are two easy ways to do this:
- Make a DIY air conditioner: This is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to mimic the effect of air conditioning. All you need to do is place a bowl of ice in front of your fan.
Regular ice cubes work okay for this, but a bigger blocks melt slower and cool longer. One option for this is to freeze water in a few large bottles and use them in place of cubes. Make sure to tilt your fan down slightly so the air passes over the ice before it moves outward.
- Lean on the “stack effect”: Have you ever noticed that the upstairs of a home is almost always hotter than downstairs? This is because of something called the stack effect.
The stack effect refers to the differences in air movement based on temperature and density. Hot air is less dense and moves up and out, while cool air is more dense, causing it to sink.
By opening the windows in your warmer upper levels, and a door or window in the cooler lower area, you can use the stack effect to move cool air up. This works because as hot air is drawn up and out it creates a pressure difference. Cooler air then rushes up to replace it.
To make it even more effective by pointing fans to the outside on upper levels, helping to encourage the movement of hot air out, and cool air up.
While neither of these methods will have the same exact same effect as mechanical cooling, they can bring indoor temperatures down to safer and more comfortable levels, which can make all the different during extreme heat events.
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