Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hundred And Ten In The Shade

Actually, our summer has been quite mild this year, so far, and we are really enjoying the break from the normal sweltering heat box that is Alabama. Now, when I say mild, I mean highs just in the 90's, not over 100 degrees F. Last summer was extremely hot and the year before, when I was at the railroad, we had like 11 days in a row that it was over 100. Combine that with being surrounded by nothing but gravel and running trains, swinging a sledgehammer for most of the day and it makes for some rough times. So this summer has been a piece of cake, let me tell you!

But I digress, my topic for this post is how happy I am with the coolness that my house sustains. I am still amazed at how much difference it makes to just position your house a certain way when building and put just a little thought into the eaves. For those that haven't read back far enough, my house is a passive solar design; a basic rectangle laid out east to west, lengthwise. The majority of the windows face south, to pick up the winter sun when it drops lower in the sky. I do have a couple of small windows on the east and west ends but they stay shaded most of the time. The eaves or overhangs of the roof project outward 2 feet. This shades all of the southern and northern windows from the summer sun, as the sun is higher in the sky, almost directly overhead. I believe about the first of September the sun will just start peaking back into the house.
I have not installed a permanent HVAC system in the house yet, as I hoped to wait until the other half is completed and then size the unit for the whole house. And also, I hoped that they may make some advances in geothermal units by then and possibly the price for such might go down a little. But who knows? Anyway, for now I just run two small window units for cooling. Now to me, they do a fine job. The house is fairly open in the design so air circulates well and I have 2 ceiling fans in the main part of the house. I have one unit in the living area that is programmable and I run it during the day. It turns it's self on and off as needed to maintain the set temperature. Now that I'm here all the time I usually don't even turn it on until about 11:00 or noon and the house stays very comfortable. To me at least. I am comfortable with the house staying about 78 degrees, which it seems to do easily. I know a lot of other people want it colder and if I have company coming I will cool the house more, but for me this is fine. I turn that unit off about 6:00 or so and turn the unit in the bedroom low so it will be cool in there for sleeping. Sometimes I have to turn it off completely at night because I get too cold. There again, I know if I had someone with me it would need to run all the time. Now, get your mind out of the gutter! I don't mean because of that (actually I probably do, hehe) but just because two bodies make more heat. Oh, you know what I mean!
So, there was a couple of days I went to work and forgot to turn the air on before I left and I thought, oh hell, it's going to be unbearable when I get home but it was actually not that bad. It was in the 90's outside and the house stayed in the low 80's with no air. It didn't take it long to cool down either, once I got home. We've had several days where it rained or stayed cloudy all day and I didn't even bother to turn the air on.
Now, some hardcore greenies would say just don't run air at all, and I wish I didn't have to but when you work in the heat like I do, you've got to have a little relief when you get home or you will damage your body.
I hear a lot of people complaining that their power bills run over $300/month and that just astounds me. If I run my air a good bit, mine will be slightly over $100 and I know a fair amount of that is that damn water heater. I hope to get a solar system soon for water. What kills me is the people that I know who purposefully built these big houses, knowing that the power bill was going to be ginormous! Excuse me? And half the time only a couple of people live there. I'll never understand. So, if you are planning a house, please consider the size and positioning; it makes a world of difference.

I had a great visit and dinner with a fellow artist last evening. We intended on watching a movie also but we talked and laughed so much it was too late when we realized the time. I have been able to be around more women lately and it's nice to not talk about hunting or trucks!
However, this evening I go to visit Cat Daddy so I'll be back tomorrow sometimes. You know the old saying, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl! Hope ya'll have a great weekend.

*John Fogerty


Anonymous said...

I just love your name here. Edifice rex. And the name is for a woman here. Irony and humour that reflects an informed spirit. Ger fer it Oedipus

Blasé said...

Let me know when you get that HVAC installed. Whew!, It's HOT in here!

Mark Farner

Pablo said...

You are so cool!

countrypeapie said...

Cool as a cucumber!

Floridacracker said...

I like 78 too. I'm always flipping the thermostat up in that direction around here. I usually find it on 74 which is like cold spring water here in FL.

You should get some rain and wind soon.

Ed Abbey said...

I normally live like you in terms of heating and cooling but having a small kid has changed that for the time being, mostly in the winter when I still have a hard time keeping clothes on her.

edifice rex said...

Hey Gary! thanks so much and thanks for stopping by!

Hey Blase'! okaaaayy...!

Hey Pablo! well thank you!

Hey Pea! haha! sometimes!

Hey FC! yeah, if I go into someone's house and it's around 72 or so, I freeze to death!
I got a little rain here but not much actually. Maybe more a little later in the week.

Hey Ed! lol! well, having kids changes lots of things and I know that my state of things doesn't work for some.

Beau said...

Passive solar is awesome- and your house sounds amazing. I lived in the NW for a half-dozen years... lots of greenies up there who don't see the problem with no a/c in summer. Up there, you don't need it, but high heat and humidity is really tough. I enjoy the a/c at night, and crawl in the basement to stay cool too. Put a new HVAC in a couple years ago that I'm still paying on, but went really efficient. Dropped our bills by $75-$100 a month. Wanted geothermal too, but that price was just too much. I would love to transition our water heater to solar- that would save a bundle! Have a lot to learn about that yet...

Erin from Iowa said...

The ceramic face art feature on your other post are so cool and so perfect for your wall!
The three story apartment building I live in was completed last fall. It is heated and cooled with geothermal units. I don't know all the particulars but I do know my heating and cooling bills are soooo LOW! I am also very lucky in that my apt is on the third floor with huge windows that give me beautiful views.

edifice rex said...

Hey Beau! thanks! I think it's an awesome house too! I have a lot to learn about solar water systems too and hopefully the price of all these new systems will begin to come down some.

Hey Erin! thanks on everything! yes, you are lucky to get to take advantage of all that. Hopefully geothermal will soon become more of a doable thing for home owners.