Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another scorcher

Ten in the morning and it's already past 35, one of my crazy neighbours is out mowing his lawn down to the dirt. Tonight it will be water everywhere trying to make it grow again, some people just can't get their head around drought. Anyway, as it's forecast to reach 43 today I made an early start, (4.30am) I've finished all my outside chores and have retired to the computer to get on with a bit of blogging. Since it is going to be another hot one I thought today's blog may as well be about our keeping cool strategy.

When I designed the house it was passive solar all the way, but of course for us passive solar is as much about cooling as keeping warm, it's quite a mild winter climate out here. We have a wide verandah around three sides of the house that keeps the sun off the windows for most of the day. To the east my neighbour has some decent trees that keep the summer morning sun from frying us and I have supplemented that with a shade cloth awning. On the western side there's a grape trellis, a carport and now a pergola. To the south I have a shade garden that supplies cool air into the house through louvre windows. House pages here and here, you may also notice that I weakened and put in aircon, but, hey I'm a senior citizen now and I melt in high temperatures.

The house is fully insulated, walls, roof and under floor so it maintains temperature quite well. At night we open the place up to the cooler night air. In the morning as soon as the temp starts rising it's batten down the hatches. Most hot days we can get away without turning the cooler on until late in the day. Some days though, like the last few and when the nights are hot that baby gets cranked up early I can tell you. The system we run is evaporative, not too hard on power but it can get through a bit of water, so we like to use it as little as possible. It's a bit of a dilemma though, water shortages and evaporative systems, but we do manage to keep our water use under 250 litres a day average for the year. Next year I hope to have it running on tank water, we'll see how it goes.

One other trick we use is quilt insulation on the windows. My fearless leader is a keen quilter so she knocked up some that fit snug in the window frames (they're not snug in these pics because I needed light for the camera work). They work a treat hot or cold. I made up some permanent rod holders and they are simply hung as the need arises.

Working hours around here when it's hot are, early start 4 - 4.30 am, weeding or watering by the light of the moon or the street lights on the nature strip. Any other quiet work until 8 am then as much noise as possible until midday. Lunch, then a nanny nap until it cools down enough for the evening shift. In this neck of the woods it's Mediterranean lifestyle all the way.


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