Since William Haviland Carrier’s invention of the Air Conditioner in 1902, our lives changed dramatically. It is difficult for most of us to believe that anyone could survive with out air conditioning in hot summer months in the Midwest, yet one Kansas City couple has done just that.
Tired of high electric bills in summer months, Bob and Terry Halfax decided to try a different method when building their new home in Kansas City, Missouri, and after months of research, they created a plan to build a “Green” home, including green cooling methods, and did the following:
- Built in Transom windows over all doors. Transoms were used in homes built prior to the common use of air conditioning, and help keep air moving through the house, while still providing privacy.
- Placed the home in an area that already had mature tall trees on the south and west sides to provide shade. Shade can lower temperatures up to 20 degrees. When the leaves fall, the house is situated to absorb passive-solar heat in the winter.
- Chose a very light gray roofing and house color to reflect heat rather than absorb heat as dark colors do.
- Installed an open front wood porch surrounding the entire house with roofing to provide shade and keep sun out of the windows on all sides.
- Built a 30′ tall cathedral ceiling with a ventilated cupola in the center to take advantage of stack effect. Stack effect makes the house act like a chimney, pulling hot air up and out.
- Put in grass, a flower garden and vegetable garden, with no concrete to absorb heat around the house.
- Used light colored blinds on windows for sun blockage and installed low-E windows.
- Installed ceiling fans to provide air movement.
- Installed a whole-house fan to take advantage of cooler night temperatures to pull large quantities of air through the house and attic.
- Installed two solar powered attic fans in the attic to move hot air out of the attic space. These come on only when the sun is shining and there is no need to connect to electricity.
- As people used in years past, the couple installed a summer kitchen outside with a wood-fired brick oven and barbeque grill to keep heat outside when cooking. The Halifax’s enjoy this kitchen year-round.
- Installed insulation in the walls and R-60 insulation in the attic to keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
The Halfax’s thoroughly enjoy their Green home, and enjoy not using the air conditioner unless it is absolutely necessary. Their new home is 60% less expensive to operate than their old home was, even though the square footage is approximately the same at 2,500 square feet. They now pay approximately $1,900 per year less for electricity. The couple also enjoys the open-air feeling of their new home, which cannot be achieved when it is tightly closed up.
Energy Star Insulation Recommendations
Wikipedia: Air Conditioning
Wood-Fired Brick Ovens
Solar Attic Fans