Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Designed for Cooling

The Darwin house was built back in 1992, and its design was built entirely with air conditioning in mind. There are only two windows facing south (one in a bathroom) and two facing north (again, one in a bathroom). This is unfortunate, given that many of the better breezes come out of the south. Few rooms have windows in more than one wall, and those that do are not well aligned for cross breeze.

This would be all very well if, like our neighbors, we were happily closed up running the AC constantly. However, the AC unit died of a sudden electrical malady on Friday night, and since all good air conditioning techs are currently off enjoying the weekend with their families, we are engaged in a living history experiment to understand why it is that the major population shift south in the US did not begin until 15-20 years ago, perhaps not so coincidentally when it became possible to assume that any house would have powerful and effective central AC.

I'm not off-grid enough in my ambitions to necessarily want a house with no AC, but I would certainly prefer one that does not become a simmering deathtrap when the condenser ceases to hum. (MrsDarwin notes with indignation that she only just had it serviced last week.)


Foxfier said...

The Elf and I live in a two-box style apartment, with windows only facing west, whose saving grace is a "patio" in-set to the bedroom-- it catches breezes alright. If we weren't so often on our computers during the hottest part of the day, we probably wouldn't need the AC at all!

Cheryl said...

If it makes you feel better, my Chicago condo (built in the 20s) has horrible airflow, and as such, would be unbearable without a/c units in the summer. For any naysayers out there, I know what hot is - I'm from Texas. =)

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oddly enough, since we live in New England where not having a central AC is the norm rather than the rule, and since our house was built in the 50s before central AC became widepread, it still is poorly designed for maximizing airflow.

Unknown said...

We had a little house in Gulfport, MS that was great.. Though it had 0 windows in the south wall (facing the Gulf of Mexico... Something about hurricane code) there were french doors along the west and large windows along the east.. The front door (west) was aligned with the back door (east) so that a fantastic breeze rolled through the middle of the house (and got pulled down hallways and swirled around the high-ceilinged living room) and kept us alive for those post-hurricane no/ac weeks.

This big clunker of a house? Yeah - it's a death trap. We can make it SNOW with the a/c on midsummer... But when the power is out -- it's more comfortable to sleep on the driveway. (And we know this from experience!)