Natural Ventilation Tricks to Cool Off your Summer

The 2012 Summer Heat Wave Is Here

AND apparently it is in full force. With record breaking highs and no escape from the heat our air conditioning units are whining and our wallets are forking over larger than ever amounts for the high costs of cooling. Here are some natural ventilation tricks to help offset that load, save some energy, and get a cool breeze back into your life. Beat the heat this summer with natural ventilation.

Create a Vacuum

To create a vacuum for air flow you have to have pressure and two openings. One for the air to come in (Scary 110 degree air in my house? Over my dead body!) and an opening for the air to leave. (Ahhh, much better…)

You probably know which side of your house stays cooler in the summer. If there is open shaded area next to your house with grass, note this as the lower “In” opening side for your vacuum. If you have two floors, the entire bottom of the house will be used to move air in for your vacuum. The hotter side of your home will probably be adjacent to more direct sun, and more paving as pavement continues to radiate heat back even throughout the evening hours.

“IN” Side

“OUT” Side

Diagram How the Air Flows

If you know what the floor plan is for your space you can easily diagram how you think the air might flow through your home if you began opening windows. As a rule, air does not cut across hard angles so your diagram should look similar to the one below with “flowing” air movements. Now is the time to go test your theories. Open some windows and feel if you can start to create a breeze.
Open a lower window from the cooler side of your home and an upper window from the hotter side of your home. Make sure all doors and hallways are open from one end of the house to the other so the air can move through the vacuum with ease. The stronger the pull you want the closer the cross ventilation should be. For instance, if you have two rooms across a hall, your breeze will be much more intense if you use the windows in these rooms for your vacuum.
When air moves across your spaces it will also begin to pull hotter air out of your home. If you open the windows on the lower level and allow the hot air to rise, when it moves out of your home, the flow will also take the hot air radiating down from your attic with it. Similar to how a breeze cools your body down. Natural ventilation actually cools your space down as it wisks away stagnant hot air.

So don’t be afraid of the hot outside air coming into your home, it won’t actually stay in your home.

Architecture Elements for Natural Ventilation

There are some common architectural elements you can add to your home to improve your natural ventilation experiment. Here is a quick list break down, some are simple to add to your existing architecture, some are a little more costly and time consuming, but all of them are worth the investment.

Transoms

Those windows above doors you see in older Victorian homes. We have transom windows above all the doors in our home because our old house at one point didn’t have AC at all!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Undercut Doors

These allow flow under a door without having to open up a room. They also create an intriguing lighting effect at night throughout your home, and allow you to see when strangers are lurking outside of your room.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Window and Door Screens

These help to keep out the bugs and make you more likely to open your home to the outdoors. Plus your animals will love them. The biggest problem is they need cleaning often so be sure to maintain them and keep your home looking fresh.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Air Louvers

You open air louvers to better focus air flow at different times during different seasons. Often louvers will be installed above windows so you you don’t even have to open your painted shut beauties.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Attic Vents

Properly sized and spaced attic vents have a huge impact for releasing hot air from your house. Have a professional home inspector take a look. They will let you know if you have the right amount and who to call if you don’t.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Clerestory Windows

These are the high windows seen often in double height spaces close to the ceiling. They allow in wonderful amounts of daylight and are perfect for passive ventilation. Clerestory windows are seen in all ranges of architecture from Modern to Gothic.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Let me know how these work for you. See a decrease in your energy bill? Like the summer breezes and smells? Share your favorites, even if you are not using them in the hottest summer months.

2 Comments

  1. Nice little article! I have been looking on the internet for basic rules of natural cooling, specifically if having a smaller opening on the incoming or outgoing side will make a difference in air flow. After seeing so many cross section views in different sites it took me a second to see that the air flow diagram was a floor plan view. Im sure this article has been helpful to others as well as myself, thumbs up, thanks πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply