Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Without A/C In The OC

Well, it's been a while.

My last excuse was that I was distracted by the new pooch.

This time I have no excuse. Let's all just move forward. Forgive and forget (like anyone's really reading anyway!!).

So, let's go back to spring of 2008. My air conditioning compressor unit broke. Two days later I had a major car repair.

Two things that are really bad for the environment. I wish that I could say that I chose to let them both go. I didn't. I chose to repair the car and swelter in the heat at home! As my fellow OC'ers will attest to - public transportation in OC is pathetic. And this, wasn't an option:

What I did try to do was to make it cooler in the house. My ceilings are high and my humble abode is not on the ground floor so I don't get the advantage of the cooling earth. Oh, I have no cross breeze and as an added bonus the HUGE windows face north east - fabulous for bringing in all the heat from 3pm and keeping it microwave like until 9pm or so. I had a lot to overcome!

First I insulated my windows. I'm not talking about the insulation around the frame my friends, I am talking insulating the entire surface of the window. I was inspired by Chili Chews blog and the "Desert Cooling" post

My windows are tinted with a frosted tint (to eliminate the typical planned community view - looking straight into someone else's dining room or better yet their bathroom!) so that helps. I then got an adjustable shower curtain rod and some curtain clips (rings with clips) and I slid those onto the rod.

Next I got some Roman Shade Privacy Liners in white and clipped those onto the rod. This prevents the attic insulation from being seen outside (can't violate the HOA rules right?!), it showed through even with the tint.

Then I clipped foil attic insulation onto the rod. I put the rod in the window with the shade liners facing the street and the foil attic insulation facing inside.

Finally, I got paper shades (these are fantastic my friends: recycled, cheap and recyclable!) and put them over that. So basically I had a attic insulation sandwich and the liners kept it nice looking from the street and the paper shades kept it decent looking in my house.

I already had 3 ceiling fans so I got one floor fan and one industrial fan. Actually I purchased the fans first for about $100 but it wasn't enough so I started on the insulation project and spent another $100 (the liners were on clearance so that helped!).

My window insulation cooled my house down by at least 10 degrees. When it was really hot I just sat in front of the fans. When it was sweltering at night I slept on the balcony...

I brought my laptop out there and watched one of my Earth Cinema Circle DVDs. In case you were wondering I did NOT fall asleep and start snoring while a neighbor came outside onto his adjoining balcony.

Typically my summer electric bills run from about $275 to $350. Embarrassing to admit.

Last year they were about $50 a month. WOW!

What do you do?

Next Up: What I'm Doing This Year...