Evaporative cooler operation
Can we design houses which need no heating and cooling?
Make life easier for your air conditioner
A short newsletter giving practical advice on minimising your energy for heating and cooling focusing on low cost easily implemented ideas.
If you live in a particularly hot area (most of inland Australia) which leads you to run your evaporative cooler continuously, I suggest you make sure that you switch off the cooler for an hour, at least once a week (either running fan only or switched off completely). I recommend you do this either early morning or late at night when it is cooler and you don't need the cooler as much. This is to ensure the pad gets a chance to completely dry out to eliminate the chance of the cooler developing mould. If you live in Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, it is unlikely that you would need to do this, as a heat wave rarely lasts that long.Back to Contents
The short answer to this is yes and no! The long answer would fill a book. A brief summary of my view follows:
Factors which affect the answer are:
Some architects argue that you can design a house to use no heating and cooling energy, but according to my analysis, you can't in most of Australia with commercially available technologies.
In cold climates, like Tasmania, super-insulating the building, combined with correct sun shading and possibly earth berming can lead to a home that needs no cooling and negligible heating.
In climates which cool down to below about 20 degrees at night, it is possible to allow the building to cool down at night. If the building is thermally massive (brick internal walls, concrete floors for example) the temperature inside won't rise too much during the day, and it can be possible to achieve good conditions. However in most of Australia, the number of nights when the minimum temperature is well above 20 degrees is excessive. After two or three nights when the temperature doesn't get below twenty, these houses are unbearably hot. However where the climate is suitable for evaporative cooling, these house designs can potentially be very low energy use, even if they are not zero energy.
If the problem is security or the fact that you are not home to open and close windows etc, then in principle these problems can be dealt with, at a cost. (Security bars can allow a window to be opened without allowing a prowler in. A home automation system could be used to open and close vents and shutters.) However it is much more difficult to deal with the noise problem when dealing with city or suburban living.
If you have any comments please contact us.Back to Contents
You can improve your comfort, reduce your electrical bills and reduce the peak loads on our power system by operating heavy power demand equipment before about 11.00am or after 6.00pm on hot days. Examples are:
When you are using the above appliances, your air conditioner has to work harder, and the hotter it is the less efficient the air conditioner is. If it is only mild outside, the air conditioner will get rid of the excess heat more efficiently.
Items which only draw a small amount of electricity and aren't worth worrying too much about include:
However, even with these low power devices, switch them off if you are not actually using them, because you are paying for the power they draw, and then for the power to remove the heat they have added to the house by having them on.Back to Contents
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