It’s August and that means dealing with summer heat. Maryland is South, and the South is great at making the heat graceful. If you or your neighbors have a victory garden, you likely have extra cukes. Sliced with Pelegrino over them, darned if the beverage doesn’t have a distinct cucumber flavor.
I thought I’d share how we are dealing with the summer heat here at the Greenbuilders home office.
Basic design considerations to mitigate summer heat
Our office was designed for the summer. That’s because I think heat and not cold is going to be the problem in future global warming years. My house backs against a woods on the south side, with tall oak and hickory trees right behind the house. The southern wall is solid straw bale with nary a window. There’s eighteen inches of recycled wool insulation in the ceiling, under a green roof*. As most of you know, traditional passive solar calls for windows on the south side which helps heat the house in the winter. My windows are all on the north. That means that I’m cool now, and in winter my monster Harmon P-68 pellet stove does the trick.
*Technical digression: a green roof stays the temperature of the out of doors. A shingle or membrane roof is more likely at 150 or higher. A green roof, on the other hand, is a big help to stay cool. I’m off grid solar which works well in the summer (sun and AC at the same time). I have a Mitsubishi hyperheat ductless HVAC for the great room. I’ve discovered recently that leaving it on dehumidify—no cooling—works even better than AC for staying cool. Does anyone know if this is a general rule? If so, I’ve never heard it but my experience is clear and I’ve learned that experience speaks louder than words.
What do I do you might want to try?
Benefits of avoiding AC
I acclimate. I learned in two years in Texas that my remarkable body (no snide comments, please) adjusts in about a year to different climate conditions. Going in and out of drastic cold AC destroys that. Those of us who spend our time not in AC, or in very moderate AC (I keep it 77-81) adjust so it’s comfortable. We just don’t feel as hot as someone who comes out of an icy office.
For me, it takes about ten minutes of sitting in a very slight cold AC-generated breeze in summer and I get a cold. Immediately. None of us want to get even slightly sick now, so it’s a good idea to keep shoulders covered when in AC.
It helps to live in tune with my body, hour by hour, day by day. That means if I’m out of doors, I go stand in the shade every second I can on a hot day. It helps. I learned that one summer in Turkey, watching what they do.
Summer heat–living actively in your house
The second thing I do which is also some trouble but worth it, is I live very actively in my house. I change things, and move from room to room. I observe how the different areas in my house are functioning. If it’s still cool in the morning when the Bart eyes open, I turn on the whole house fan to bring in that cool air. When the outdoors warms a little, I shut everything up. That’s a bunch of windows to close.
During the day, I go out the eastern door, where the outdoor air is a little cooler, especially in the afternoon. The west side is hotter and I avoid opening those doors. In general, avoiding unnecessary running in and out helps keep a closed-up house cooler. It’s helpful to set up different work areas depending on where it’s most comfortable at different times of the day. One room is always cooler, so I’ve taken the trouble to set up a desk there. That’s my refuge of last resort for the hottest of days if I need it. It’s just nice to know it’s there.
It is satisfying to live in touch with nature instead of fighting it. Something visceral enjoys that, is soothed by that. Something which doesn’t depend on technology for security. Working with nature puts me harmony with my immune system. Try it and if you already do—many of you on this list are way ahead of me—let me know what you’re doing to be comfortable and yes, gracious, this summer.
We are going to remember this. I’m already remembering this.