Jun 15 2021

Cool Without AC or Reduce Energy Consumption of AC

The warmer it gets, the more we use air conditioning. The more we use air conditioning, the warmer it gets.  In 1990, there were only about 400 million air conditioning units in the world, mostly in the US, today there are over a billion.  Since 2000 every record for peak electricity use in New York City has occurred during a heatwave, as millions of people turn on their air conditioning units.

Some Piedmonters are concerned about their energy-wasting air conditioners, which pump heat outdoors, blasting their neighbors with hot air. As the City shrinks side setbacks, cross-ventilation becomes less available and less effective.  To avoid this costly contributor to their  environmental footprint, they wonder about experimenting with greener alternatives when temperatures rise this summer.

PG&E Advice on Cooling Your House in  Hot Weather :

Keep shades, drapes, and curtains drawn

Ventilate your attic.

Your attic can reach temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.

Plant shade trees.

Shading your house with trees can make a surprising difference. Deciduous trees planted on the east, south or west side of a house, the sunniest sides, can reduce your cooling load in hot summer months by up to 30%.

Planting shrubs next to your home can also help. Vines or trellises placed directly on a west wall can lower the wall’s surface temperature by as much as 40°, making it easier to keep your home cool inside. Ground covers and lawns can also help keep your home naturally cool. A lawn is 10-15° cooler than bare ground.

Install shade devices.

Shade screens and tints on windows and glass doors, as well as window and wall awnings, are very effective forms of passive cooling. Shading windows and walls on the sunny sides of your home can cut your cooling needs considerably.

Ventilate when it’s cool outside.

Opening windows when it’s cooler outside than inside can often cool your home down into the 60’s with simple ventilation. In the morning, close up the house to trap the coolness inside.

Consider a whole-house fan.

Because some nights are cool, but have no breeze, you may benefit from using a whole-house fan to force cool air through your home.

If you use air conditioning:

Set it at 78°. You can cut your system’s operating costs by 20% or more simply by setting your thermostat higher. If everyone did this, the U.S. could save the equivalent of 190,000 barrels of oil per day.         Read all PG&E Advice

Air Conditioners Are not Green, Compromising Piedmont’s Stated Climate Action Goals

Window air conditioning units and through-wall sleeve air conditioning units typically leak large amounts of energy. Central air or ductless mini-split systems are significantly more efficient. In addition, their  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emit pollutants that put holes in the ozone. AC systems require enormous amounts of energy to operate.

Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan and Goals do not require elimination of AC when an existing home is sold or even prohibit AC in new construction.  The townhomes developed on Linda Avenue were designed with cross ventilation for natural summer cooling.  However, the City insisted they be equipped for air conditioning instead.  Some older Piedmont homes have lost their access to natural cross-ventilation, as infill building has reduced air flow.

Shaded Public and Private Open Space Offers Natural Cooling

Piedmont loses open space every year as construction project gobble side setbacks and diminish backyards.  Preserving Piedmont’s remaining vacant land as private open space or public parkland not only would bolster quality of life, protect environmental assets and but offer citizens an alternative to energy draining air conditioning.  

Advice on Treatment Overheated Individuals

The combination of  overheating and dehydration reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.  Wired magazine recommends the Wilderness first responder treatment, “sip cool water, and nibble a salty snack.”

One Response to “Cool Without AC or Reduce Energy Consumption of AC”

  1. Thanks again to the Piedmont Civic Association for publishing timely information not available in hyper-local print media.

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