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Cooling Your Home with Fans and Ventilation
Ventilation cooling is usually combined with energy conservation measures like shading provided by trees and window treatments, roof reflectivity (light-colored roof), and attic insulation. Mechanical air circulation can be used with natural ventilation to increase comfort, or with air conditioning for energy savings.
Ventilation provides other benefits besides cooling. Indoor air pollutants tend to accumulate in homes with poor ventilation, and when homes are closed up for air conditioning or heating.
Convection occurs when heat is carried away from your body via moving air. If the surrounding air is cooler than your skin, the air will absorb your heat and rise. As the warmed air rises around you, cooler air moves in to take its place and absorb more of your warmth. The faster this convecting air moves, the cooler you feel.
Radiation occurs when heat radiates across the space between you and the objects in your home. If objects are warmer than you are, heat will travel toward you. Removing heat through ventilation reduces the temperature of the ceiling, walls, and furnishings. The cooler your surroundings, the less heat you'll attract, and the more of your own excess heat you'll lose.
Perspiration can be uncomfortable, and many people would prefer to stay cool without it. However, during hot weather and physical exercise, perspiration is the body's powerful cooling mechanism. As moisture leaves your skin pores, it carries a lot of heat with it, cooling your body. If a breeze (ventilation) passes over your skin, that moisture will evaporate more quickly, and you'll be even cooler.
How Heat Accumulates
Operational changessuch as reducing the use of appliances, lighting, and hot waterwill also reduce accumulated heat. When you've prevented as much heat accumulation as you can, develop a ventilating strategy.
Depending on the house design and wind direction, a windbreaklike a fence, hedge, or row of trees that blocks the windcan force air either into or away from nearby windows. Wind moving along a wall creates a vacuum that pulls air out of the windows.
The chimney effect occurs when cool air enters a home on the first floor or basement, absorbs heat in the room, rises, and exits through upstairs windows. This creates a partial vacuum, which pulls more air in through lower-level windows.
Natural ventilation works best in climates with cool summers or cool nights and regular breezes.
Using Windows and Doors for Cross-Ventilation
Inlets and outlets located directly opposite each other cool only those areas in between, in the direct path of the airflow. You'll cool more of your home if you force the air to take a longer path between the inlet and outlet. Use smaller window openings for the inlets and larger openings for the outlets. This increases air speed and improves the cooling effect. Air from cooler, shaded outdoor areas provides the best intake air.
Experiment with different patterns of window venting to move fresh outside air through all the living areas of your home. This may involve leaving some windows closed if they interfere with air moving along a longer path through the home.
The quality and energy efficiency of these devices varies widely. Shop carefullyit might be best to buy from a dealer who specializes in fans rather than from a department store.
Install a fan in each room that needs to be cooled during hot weather. Fans work best when the blades are 7 to 9 feet above the floor and 10 to 12 inches below the ceiling. Fans should be installed so their blades are no closer than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the walls.
Larger ceiling fans can move more air than smaller fans. A 36- or 44-inch diameter fan will cool rooms up to 225 square feet, while fans that are 52 inches or more should be used in larger rooms. Multiple fans work best in rooms longer than 18 feet. Small- and medium-sized fans will provide efficient cooling in a 4- to 6-foot diameter area, while larger fans are effective up to 10 feet.
A larger blade will also provide comparable cooling at a lower velocity than a smaller blade. This may be important in areas where loose papers or other objects will be disturbed by a strong breeze. The fan should also be fitted to the aesthetics of the rooma large fan may appear overpowering in a small room.
A more expensive fan that operates quietly and smoothly will probably offer more trouble-free service than cheaper units. Check the noise ratings, and, if possible, listen to your fan in operation before you buy it.
Window and Exhaust Fans
In a larger house, consider installing a window fan that blows air in through a lower-level window in a cool area and another window fan that blows air out through a higher-level window in a hotter area.
Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to remove heat and humidity when cooking and bathing. Larger, securely installed exhaust fans can ventilate homes where an open window would be a security issue. Large exhaust fans can be mounted outdoors on a wall or roof to reduce indoor noise.
Be cautious with these large exhaust fans. If enough ventilation isn't provided, the fans can pull combustion products (e.g., carbon monoxide from furnaces or water heaters) into your living space.
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