excessive heat, how do you protect your house during a heat wave?

alpg88

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Unfortunately in some areas, heat comes with very high humidity, nigh and day, you do not want to open windows. We have it pretty bad in the summer here in nyc. heat is not even an issue as much, we run AC even when it is not that hot, just to deal with humidity. normally my dog's harness is somewhat stiff, but in the summer it is as soft as a noddle due to moisture.
 

idleprocess

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Heat index finally dropped down to 100°F around 22:00 here. It's tolerable now that the sun has set and its associated direct thermal load is gone. I'm not sure that the structures of modern housing stock would take kindly to prolonged lack of at least dehumidification during the summer months - if not the sheetrock then the extensive use of MDF cabinetry, doors, laminates might suffer for it (scratch that - plenty of sheetrock and MDF in garages and other non-climate controlled rooms that's A-OK; probably laminate as well).
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alpg88

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Here it is not as bad, as far as temp, but you still get sweaty within minutes of going outside.
 

Poppy

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I don't recall if it was last year or two years ago, but we had a ten day heat-wave. A heat wave is defined as three days or more of 90F or greater temps. Like @alpg88 mentioned we have humidity and that makes the "feels like" temp much higher.

Of course, when the need is greater, the demand is higher, and the power companies ask its customers to conserve energy.

The back of my house faces East, and catches the morning sun, until about 1:00 PM. I'll sometimes open the umbrella on the back patio, just to give some shade. I figure by shading the black iron table, will reduce the radiate heat it gives off when it gets really hot from the direct sunlight. During excessive heat days, I'll angle the umbrella to cast some shade onto the side of the house, covering a pair of windows, to reduce the solar gain.

During that 10 day heat wave we had some 102F days, with feels like temps of 108F. A few of those days, I clamped a reflective tarp to the rain gutter in the back of the house to shade the side of the house. It wasn't pretty, but it helped. With temps like that, if there was a prolonged power failure, I'd tarp both the front and back of the house. The South face has a roofed porch that shades that side of the house.
 

fulee9999

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lot of useful stuff here, I'll ad my two cents, because nowadays we get 42 C ( 108 F ) summer heat here, which is measured in shade over a grassy area... this also means walking the dog when the sun is out is impossible, as the concrete usually heats up to temperatures that will cook eggs and also poor doggos paws.
so what I figured to keep your home cool is to disallow heat to access it, and remove heat if it did. from what I gathered in the recent years is

1, do not allow the sun to touch your house. this has the huge caveat of having to have control of the house, which is, if you live in an apartment, is not possible. but, if you live in a detached house, you need to make sure that the sun doesn't reach the roof and walls, most useful is trees, that block the sun in the summer time, but the leaves will fall in autumn so you'll have some heating from the sun in winter. you can also use tarps, mylar or anything the sort, just mind where you reflect the heat and light, you don't wanna boil your neighbor.

2, if the light touches the house you need good insulation, so it won't seep heat into the structure itself. I don't know how well north American house structures can store heat, as they are made out of wood ( mostly, afaik ) but here we have brick walls, so you need to have thick insulation on the outside of the structure to avoid heat going in ( or out at wintertime... ).

3, block sunshine through the windows from the outside . we use roller shutters, but anything that blocks the sun but won't transfer heat into the window itself should be okay

4, if the heat already reached the inside of your home, try to manage the perceived temperature, move the air around, and try to keep the air as dry as you can, if you've been to the desert you'll recall that 38C/100F in the basically zero humidity is perfectly manageable, you only need to remember to drink a LOT. also try to keep the heat sources inside the house to a minimum, so try to use the least amount of dryer, stove, tv, pc, basically anything that generates a lot of heat.

5, Move the air! Opening the windows at night can be useless if there is no draft , so always pay careful attention to actually have the air move through the home, if your home has draft naturally, great, but you might want to place a high throughput fan in one window pushing air in, and in another room sucking air out. this has helped me tremendously at summer night times when air just basically stagnated inside, so even though it was colder outside, it didn't get any colder inside .

+1: if it can applied, running a drip irrigation system close your windows can allow the grass to be cool, hence the air entering through your windows will be cooler, but this assumes basically wasting water for a bit of relief from the heat, so not ideal

as other mentioned, closing your dwelling to the outside during the day, and opening everything at night is a good idea, but as also others mentioned, sometimes even the evening temperatures are way too high, so this might not work at all...

so what can you do if you already have hot air inside? from worst to best, here is my experience:

- swamp cooler: basically just blowing air through a wet piece of material, it WILL cool down the air a tiny bit, and also it will even filter the air, so great for catching pollen and dust, however... Mold. It will increase humidity, which will eventually decrease your comfort , and the water and the filter - or the material you blow through air - will develop mold, so you'll need to manage that and keep a close eye on what you're breathing in

- simple fans: great when you just need a bit of cooler feeling, but when the temperature reaches a certain point, you're just sitting in an air circulated oven, it feels much worse to have hot air blown at you

- portable AC: fairly OK, but most of them literally sucks, meaning it will suck air out of the room it's placed in, there are countless information on them why they are not the greatest solution, but sometimes that's your only way to introduce cold air into the area you're in

- window AC: one of the best available options, but can get fiddly, also here the price is the same as a split AC unit, so if possible, a split version is favourable

- split/central AC: the best bang for buck ratio, only caveat I found that it can dry the air too much, leaving you open to more respiratory diseases , but with some simple air humidification ( not sure that's a word ) you can manage just fine, also you can use it to heat your home come winter time

- heat exchanger cooling: fairly complex, you need two drilled wells, you bring water up from one, into the heat exchanger, blow cool air inside, dump heated water into the other well. requires very little maintenance, consumes only the fraction of the power of an AC, and can supply 17 C / 62 F cold air throughout the summer for cheap. the issue with this is obvious, you need two wells, piping to and from your heat exchanger, a heat exchanger ( if you're heating isn't connected to one ) , but if possible, this is one of the best solutions you can get long term, you can use it in the winter as well to help out a bit for your heating needs if designed properly

- geothermic air conditioning: same as the previous mostly, but instead of wells you have a closed loop of liquid pulling the heat from the house and dumping it underground, uses a tiny amount of power comparatively, reliable and sustainable, but the initial cost is just astonishing... or at least here. you need to place the pipes deep down the ground, for that you need to move the earth quite a bit, and you need very high quality pipes, that can lay in the ground for years and years without leaking or bursting. this is basically the going down in to your cellar to cool off, just bringing the cellar up to the attic as well, it's great in all aspects, other than the price

one thing I've been messing around recent days is an actual 'personal AC', which is basically running icy water through a coolant radiator and pushing the cold air at you, like so:


I'm still waiting for some parts, but I'll report back how it goes :)
 
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pnwoutdoors

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excessive heat, how do you protect your house during a heat wave?

Outdoor summer "high" temps in my area range from ~68-105F, though much above 90ºF is fairly infrequent except for a couple of weeks at the peak of summer.

My methods:

  • Open windows during nights, if outdoor temps are sub-70ºF or if winds are up, closing once outside temps head north of ~73ºF. Typically, this helps avoid use of A/C 70% or more of the day, unless it gets quite hot.
  • A good-sized space fan, used frequently. Haven't yet installed a couple of decent, larger, high-efficiency ceiling fans; mulling that idea. Would be far preferable, but the space fan works well enough.
  • Set the A/C thermostat to 77-79ºF or so, depending.
  • Adjust the window blinds appropriately, to avoid the worst of the afternoon light.
  • I dress a bit lighter, drink more fluids, avoid lots of cooking with the stove.

That's about it. The "basics," really.


Best option, if I were to build a place in a country spot for chez pnwoutdoors and didn't have any cash constraints on the build:

  • Architecture designed to capture the cooler temps and softer light, but mitigate the hooter temps and harsher light. Larger overhangs/eaves, special "morning light" zones that capture the softer morning light.
  • Architecture designed with a "wind-catcher" feature (typical in the Middle East).
  • Architecture designed with "light collecting" spots on the roof that funnel light down "tubes" into the home, diffused to supply a solid amount of lighting without actually having to open up the window coverings to let in light.
  • A decent geo/pump setup.
  • A handful of strategically-placed whole-house fans to move lots of air.
  • High-efficiency ceiling fans to handle in-use areas of the home.
 

Poppy

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During excessively hot days, we often pick up a pizza. Also I often make more use of the propane grill, even for things that I would normally cook stove top.

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I found that adding a little red wine, like Port adds lots of flavor.
 

Lips

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Coolaroo 10 foot and 6 foot Exterior Roller Shade with 90% UV Protection.

Manual crank ( 1 inch per turn ) hacked to use Cordless impact driver with Gator attachment. Rolls up & down effortlessly in seconds...

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Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner. Caught it on flash sale for $239 with free shipping.

Use this to supplement a zoned central air. These Inverter units are super quiet, efficient, low amp draw and great to use with a generator if needed. They lack raw power and work best for small rooms. If heavy cooling power is needed and you don't mind something louder don't get one of these (yet!)



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fulee9999

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Coolaroo 10 foot and 6 foot Exterior Roller Shade with 90% UV Protection.

Manual crank ( 1 inch per turn ) hacked to use Cordless impact driver with Gator attachment. Rolls up & down effortlessly in seconds...

View attachment 45590


View attachment 45591


View attachment 45593




Midea 8,000 BTU U-Shaped Smart Inverter Window Air Conditioner. Caught it on flash sale for $239 with free shipping.

Use this to supplement a zoned central air. These Inverter units are super quiet, efficient, low amp draw and great to use with a generator if needed. They lack raw power and work best for small rooms. If heavy cooling power is needed and you don't mind something louder don't get one of these (yet!)



View attachment 45594

do you have three shades behind each other? :-o
 

turbodog

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If you're in a tight spot, be careful using the clothes dryer. It pulls air into the house through cracks/etc to replace the air it exhausts.

If possible, like in a laundry room, 1) close the door 2) close the HVAC vents 3) crack a window. Then the air comes straight in, goes through the dryer, and goes out. That room gets hot, but it does not add load to HVAC. Essentially, you're adding a makeup air intake.

Otherwise, it seeps in from spots all across the house, circulating through the HVAC, adding load.
 

turbodog

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Can also hang sheets, using push pins, over doors, hallways, etc for areas you want to cut off. This can mess with HVAC flow so don't be stupid. Making a vacuum condition with HVAC will draw air in from WHEREVER it can come from.
 

bykfixer

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My brother (RIP) had a window unit to cool 2 big rooms. He kept bed sheets as curtains thumb-tack'd to the door openings leasing to the area outside of the cooled area. You'd enter the house in the kitchen on the north side of the house and then pull back the sheet to enter the living room that was probably 25 degrees cooler than the kitchen. His bedroom was the other cooled room. The rest of the house was not air conditioned.

You didn't spend much time in the bathroom for shor.

One thing many don't think about is how often you enter/exit the home. Plan those trips and keep doors closed as much as possible. And when entering open it just wide enough to get through. Say you have a 24" wide girth. Open it 24, 25" instead of wide open so the amount of hot air coming in isn't 3' or more wide. I do same in winter.
 
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Poppy

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My brother (RIP) had a window unit to cool 2 big rooms. He kept bed sheets as curtains thumb-tack'd to the door openings leasing to the area outside of the cooled area. You'd enter the house in the kitchen on the north side of the house and then pull back the sheet to enter the living room that was probably 25 degrees cooler than the kitchen. His bedroom was the other cooled room. The rest of the house was not air conditioned.

You didn't spend much time in the bathroom for shor.

One thing many don't think about is how often you enter/exit the home. Plan those trips and keep doors closed as much as possible. And when entering open it just wide enough to get through. Say you have a 24" wide girth. Open it 24, 25" instead of wide open so the amount of hot air coming in isn't 3' or more wide. I do same in winter.
Sounds like the house I grew up in.

Same thing with the refrigerator. Leave the door open for as short a period of time as possible. One may think that the open door cools the room, slightly, but the compressor generates more heat recooling the inside of the fridge.

I keep the milk for my morning coffee in the door shelf, near the open side of the door. This way I can open the door part way, only inches, to grab the container. If it was stored near the hinge side of the door, I'd have to open the door way more open to reach for it.
 

orbital

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+

I change my eating habits when it gets warmer, little carbs in any way.
5~10lbs of insulation off my frame helps being cooler, not sure how else to word it.
..NO running my stove/oven for the most part either.

Over the last couple years I'v made some interesting DC fans,
currently running a 36V fan undervolted running on 20V from a Type C {PD} input. neatobandito

btw, I have my computers in my basement, came down here and it's soo comfortable,, cool & dry😁
 

Stress_Test

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For a two-story living space (house, or apartment in my case) it helps to have a good fan to blow air upward from the 1st to 2nd floor.

I've got a ~28 inch diameter Patton shop fan (the wire-cage big blade type) at the foot of the stairs, blowing upward. Then a cheapo basic box fan (with front and back grills removed) blowing into the bedroom I'm sitting in. And a "squirrel cage" centrifugal fan in the bedroom itself blowing up at the ceiling to stir up the air volume.

The air from downstairs did drop the humidity a few points, which helps. But everything has heat-soaked long enough since yesterday that there's not much difference in temp between down and upstairs. (about 82 up, 79 down)

When the weather gets hot and stays hot, fans can only do so much. I hate summer. I can deal with it but I still hate it. Give me fall and winter year round and I'd be happy.
 

turbodog

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...not much difference in temp between down and upstairs. (about 82 up, 79 down)

...

That sounds VERY high, even for an apt. Might ask maintenance to check unit. Also would see about checking filter(s) and basic once over yourself.

Those fan motors are inputting ~500 watts of heat into the place collectively, about 150/fan... more for the 28".
 

Stress_Test

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That's the temps without running the central AC. I don't turn it on until it after sundown at the earliest. It's actually 10pm now and I haven't run it yet.

I overestimated the diameter of the Patton fan; I measured ~18" blade diameter. It seems bigger than that when carrying it!

The fan wattages you state seem pretty high; is that what you've measured? I'm running them all on "low" anyway so it won't be the full-blast rating that's on the box or sticker or something.

Maybe 300 watts for all three fans together. And that ain't much compared to the computer and monitor, and my own 6'3" body radiating 100W all on its own, and the massive thermal load the sun put on the building during the day.
 
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