The Low Cost, Environmentally Friendly Way

Shade as air conditioning

by Jennifer Cargal, West Seattle

George: here are my notes about the "air conditioning" system at our home:

I was raised in the deep south. For much of my childhood, we did not have air conditioning. Fans in the windows were often as good as it got. I considered myself a hot weather trooper - able to tolerate immense heat and humidity. When I moved to the northwest, I loved the temperate climate, but I was surprised to find that a hot summer day here seemed particularly hot.

Shade as air conditioning

When we moved into a home with a western exposure, we feared our nice brick house would become an oven. After considering several options, we choose to install exterior shades, motorized on the top floor and hand cranked at ground level. The exterior shades made a dramatic difference in the indoor temperature while preserving the views from the house. We have been quite happy with their performance and appearance. After the initial investment to purchase and install the shades, there is no on-going energy cost to operate them, making them economical and environmentally friendly. So before you invest in air conditioning for those few hot summer days each year, think about exterior shades.

Thanks for the advise on the drain. Your proposed fix worked like a charm.

Jennifer

Thanks for you note. I have seen such shades help many people keep their homes cooler during the summer. Let me just add a few stray thoughts:

  • Mechanical/electrical air condtioners are noisy!
  • They are expensive to purchase and install, require a lot of maintenance and energy and tend to have a relatively short life (8-15 years).
  • You can use all sorts of exterior shades to help cool your home. In addition to canvas systems, you can use very simple bamboo shades, louvers, vinyl, roller shutters...
  • If you use a motorized shade, the motor can be operated by a coupled thermostat or timer.
  • Shades have very little to do with downspout drain systems except for the fact the many people seem to think that solving summer heat and wet basement problems has to be expensive. Thanks for proving otherwise

For the last few summers I have been listening to commercials about "energy efficient" air conditioning systems. These commercials raise my temperature! If these folks were really interested in saving energy, they would concentrate on helping people use shading and venting systems first. A few homes in our area do require air conditioners, most of the others can be kept very nice and cool by non-mechanical means. - George