How to Design a Home with Natural Air Conditioning

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Natural Air Conditioning for your Home
Natural Air Conditioning for your Home

If you are designing a new home and are undecided about whether or not you need to have mechanical air conditioning, it would be well worth your time and money to talk to an architect who understands green design principles about natural air conditioning for your home. Designing your home properly can reduce or eliminate your need for an air conditioning system.

Your architect will need to consider the environment and your site location. Siting the house properly to take advantage of sun angles and natural winds will go a long way in naturally air conditioning your home. This is an important part of green home design.

Take Advantage of Sun Angles
Take Advantage of Sun Angles

Achieving natural air conditioning depends, in part, on obtaining cross ventilation in all living spaces. You will need to be sure to orient operable windows as far apart as possible to take advantage of cross ventilation.

Cross Ventilation is Key
Cross Ventilation is Key

Clerestory windows, or high wall windows, are a real help when trying to naturally cool your home. When the clerestory windows are made operable, you create what is called a "chimney effect." With low and high windows both open, cool air can enter your home through low windows and hot air can escape through your clerestory windows.

Add High Windows
Add High Windows

If possible, your architect should place most of the glass on the north and south walls, while limiting glass on the east and west walls. This will minimize solar heat gain from the east and west when the sun is at low angles in the morning and evening hours.

Keep Glass on North and South Walls
Keep Glass on North and South Walls

Talk to your architect about designing large overhangs. Overhangs will shade your walls and glass from the sun, which will reduce solar heat gain and assist with natural air conditioning.

Large Overhangs help cool your home
Large Overhangs help cool your home

Super insulate walls and ceilings. The best insulation that you can invest in is the spray-on foam. There are even soy based foam insulations now that are environmentally friendly and seal all cracks.

Insulate Well
Insulate Well

Ventilate your attic space and any cathedral ceilings with plenty of soffit vents, ridge vents, and gable vents. This will keep your attic area a lot cooler.

Ventilate Attic Well
Ventilate Attic Well

Keep your roofing material light colored and/or reflective. This reflects the sun's radiation away from your home. The amount of reflectivity is referred to as albedo. You should shoot for a rating of 29. Most routine materials will disclose this rating as part of their performance information.

Light Colored Roofing Material
Light Colored Roofing Material

Keep paving materials, such as driveways, walks, and porches light colored. Use no asphalt paving. Instead, choose light colored concrete. Cool breezes will become hot air as they travel over dark materials and will bring more heat to your home.

Light Colored Paving
Light Colored Paving

Plant landscape borders around the walls of your home. Landscape soaks up heat.

Landscape Close to Home
Landscape Close to Home

Install ceiling fans in all living spaces of your home. Energy star rated fans are available and are the best to choose.

Install Ceiling Fans
Install Ceiling Fans

Reduce the use of incandescent light sources in your house to as close to zero as possible. Utilize cooler, more efficient light sources, such as CFL's or LED's. Look in the resource section for more information on purchasing CFLs' and LED's. They cost slightly more up front, but reduce your energy consumption, last longer, and don't throw off heat like incandescent light sources do.

Install CFL Lighting
Install CFL Lighting

Install Low E 4 windows glass in all windows.

Use high efficiency windows
Use high efficiency windows

Orient your home at a 45 degree angle to the prevailing wind to optimize cross ventilation in the home.

Orient your home to take advantage of winds
Orient your home to take advantage of winds

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to hire an architect that has an understanding of green design principles to assist you with your home design.

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