Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

June 17, 2019 by  
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Summer is right around the corner, and the rising temperatures in many areas have already arrived. As the searing summer months approach and drag on, finding ways to keep your house cool will make you more comfortable. Chilling out without the use of energy-thirsty air conditioning will not only save you money but is good for the planet, too. For thousands of years, humans found ways to stay cool, even in the hottest climates, without the use of AC. Take a card from that playbook to keep your home comfortable without relying on energy-intensive resources by incorporating the ideas below. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC Open the windows Creating a cross-breeze is one of the most effective ways to cool a home. Many resorts and vacation homes in tropical areas rely on this technique instead of installing AC for a good reason — it works. The key to effective breeze cooling is figuring out which direction the wind blows. In some areas, it’s fairly consistent, commonly coming from the same direction during the same times each day (most often in the afternoon). Open up windows during that “window” of breeze to encourage the flow through your home. Also take advantage of cooler nighttime and early morning temperatures. Leave screened windows open to allow the cool air to come inside. Then, trap it by shutting windows on each side of the house as the sun hits it, i.e. the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. Rely on the blinds When your windows are closed, also close off heat absorption by closing the blinds. For windows that are in direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, consider installing shutters or rolling blinds on the outside of the window as well. If you don’t want to block out the light entirely, install window film that is made to insulate against heat while letting light into the room. Blackout the light The most effective way to keep the sun from injecting blistering heat into a room is to keep it dark. Completely close off rooms when they are not being used. If you don’t mind being left in the dark, install blackout curtains, which effectively block the heat from entering the room through the window. Become a fan of fans Both ceiling fans and box fans are effective in cooling a space without cranking up the energy bill. For ceiling fans, make sure they are rotating in a counterclockwise direction during the warm months. Most ceiling fans have a switch near the top that changes the direction in which the blades rotate. This is so that the fan pushes cooler air downward during the summer. Reverse the blades during the winter, which pulls cool air up toward the ceiling to keep the living space warmer. Box and other fans help keep the air flowing throughout the space for a cooling effect. To create cooler air, place a container of ice directly in front of the fan. The air from the fan will bounce off the ice and direct the cool air across the room. Insulate against the heat With all of this talk about the importance of air flow, it seems counter-intuitive to mention insulation . However, keeping hot air from entering your space prevents from having to then cool it. Just like with cold air during the winter, evaluate any place that hot air may seep in. Close the damper in your fireplace. Feel around your doors and windows for airflow, and install weatherstripping as needed. Grab a package of insulation foam for your light switches and outlets. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Turn off appliances Even during the sizzling days of summer, you need to eat and do laundry , but appliances in the home generate a lot of heat and compromise your success in the battle against a hot house. Plan ahead to avoid turning on appliances as much as possible. Dust off that slow cooker book and cook dinner without turning on the stove. Also enjoy some summer grilling that takes the hot cooking outdoors. Better yet, on very hot days, go with a cold sandwich or salad and avoid cooking altogether. You can also keep the clothes dryer from heating up your space by hanging clothes to dry or only running it at night after the temperature drops. Even the dishwasher sends out heat, so wash dishes by hand and allow them to air dry in the warm space, or run the dishwasher without the final dry cycle that produces heat. Give your refrigerator a bit of a break. It works hard during hot weather, so keep up maintenance by cleaning the vent in the front and the coils in the back. Keep food away from the edges inside the fridge, so air can flow freely. Get shade from plants Keeping the home cool on the inside starts on the outside. Your landscape design can have a huge impact on the temperature inside your house. Plan ahead by placing trees where they will block intense sun rays during the height of the season. Put shrubs and vines on south- and west-facing walls to help insulate against the heat. Stop unwanted heat gain with awnings For a long-term, albeit less natural, approach, build permanent awnings or invest in retractable awnings over corridors, decks and windows. This will also make enjoying the outdoors on super hot days a little easier! Images via Shutterstock

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Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

Avoid allergies this spring with these 7 natural remedies

February 11, 2019 by  
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The 2019 allergy season is almost here, and that means many of us will soon be dealing with frequent sneezing and coughing, congestion, runny noses, headaches and watery, itchy eyes. The spring allergy season in the United States usually starts in February and lasts until the summer, thanks to tree and grass pollination.  Climate factors that can affect your seasonal allergy symptoms include things like pollen counts and mold growing in areas of high heat and humidity. Rainfalls and warm, windy days can also cause pollen counts to skyrocket, but don’t run off the pharmacy just yet, here are some natural remedies to combat allergy season. Behavior changes Seasonal allergies (AKA hay fever) can make life miserable, but there are ways to reduce your exposure to those environmental triggers. Staying indoors on dry, windy days can definitely help. Not to mention, avoiding outside chores like gardening and lawn mowing is also a great idea. You also want to skip the clothesline and dry your clothes indoors, so the pollen in the air doesn’t stick to your laundry. If you must be outside for an extended period of time, throw your clothes in the laundry as soon as you get home and take a shower to wash the pollen out of your hair and skin. You should also keep the windows closed in your house and car, and use the air conditioning whenever possible. A dehumidifier can also help keep the air inside your home dry, and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is a must when cleaning your floors. Even if you take all of these precautions, if your local weather forecast is calling for high pollen counts, it is best to take proper precautions and try natural approaches to alleviate the problem. Apple cider vinegar Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t do? It can be a big part of a healthy diet when added to salad dressings and marinades, but you can also use ACV to clean your bathroom and kitchen and even removes odors from your laundry. When it comes to seasonal allergies, drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or mixing it in a cup of hot water with a squirt of honey) can reduce the production of mucus — the sticky stuff that lines your nose, throat and sinuses. Allergens can make your mucous membranes more productive, and the mucus can contain histamine. This leads to swelling of your nasal passages, and the production of more, thinner mucus that results in a runny nose, sneezing and itching. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Diet changes Switching to a low-fat, high complex-carbohydrate diet can help reduce allergy symptoms. You want to eat things like leafy, green vegetables , yellow and orange veggies, onions, garlic and ginger. Be sure to avoid alcohol, caffeine, dairy, citrus fruit, sugar, wheat and red meat. Drinking a lot of water every day is also essential. Naturopathic Physicians recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces on a daily basis. For example,  if you weigh 200 pounds, you would want to drink 100 ounces of water. Dehydration can heighten allergy symptoms, so drinking more water will make you feel better. Supplements There are multiple supplements that you can buy to help you with your allergy symptoms. Bioflavonoids and vitamin C are natural antihistamines, Bromelain can reduce swelling, and Butterbur (Petadolex) can be just as effective as Zyrtec according to recent studies . Probiotics can also boost your immune system and you can get those via supplement or through fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and pickles. Herbal medicine Using high-quality herbal medicines at their recommended doses can help with your hay fever. Consider using ginkgo biloba, as it is a bioflavonoid that is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, milk thistle is also very effective and can reduce allergic reactions, and yarrow can help with congestion. Eyebright is a good solution for sneezing and itchy eyes, and stinging nettles are a natural antihistamine. You can make tea with any of these herbs to drink throughout the day or place a few drops of tincture under the tongue. Related: Is a flexitarian diet right for you? Acupuncture According to a study in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, acupuncture can help with multiple health issues, including allergy symptoms like sneezing and itchy eyes. The best part is that many find some relief with just one visit. Exercise Research shows that thirty minutes of aerobic activity can soothe allergy symptoms because it will naturally create an anti-inflammatory effect. When you are working out, the blood flow in your body goes to where it is needed most. Since the blood vessels in your nose aren’t on the top of the list, they will constrict and this eases congestion. “The effect typically occurs within five minutes of exercise and can last for several hours afterward,” says Michael Benninger, MD, institute chair of the department of otolaryngology at the Cleveland Clinic. If you must go outdoors to get your exercise, it is best to wait until the afternoon or early evening because pollen levels are usually higher in the morning. Images via rawpixel , ThiloBecker , TerriC , Marzena7 , kaboompics , Shutterstock

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Avoid allergies this spring with these 7 natural remedies

Locally crafted childrens learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines

February 11, 2019 by  
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Scandinavian design studio Native Narrative is raising the bar for after-school facilities in the rural Philippines with their recent completion of the Children’s Learning Center in the Island of Leyte’s Village Mas-in. The facility primarily serves as a child-friendly after-school space during weekdays and weekends, however, it has also been engineered to double as an emergency shelter in the event of a natural disaster. Created in close collaboration with local NGOs and the local government, the prototype project was constructed from locally available materials and local, relatively unskilled labor. The Children’s Learning Center and emergency shelter was created in response to the newly approved Children’s Emergency Relief Protection Act in the Philippines , a law that calls for local and national agencies to establish child-friendly spaces for the improved protection and development of children. Created to serve ages 4 to 17, the 63-square-meter Village Mas-in facility offers a space to play, study and gather with the community. The building includes a library unit, study spaces, a reading area, two bathrooms and a performance area. The facility is one of four Native Narrative-designed after-school facilities built in 2018; five more site-specific buildings will be constructed in 2019. “It has been important for us to create something that made sense in the local context both practically and in terms of character,” explains Jakob Gate, architect at Native Narrative, of the firm’s choice to use locally sourced materials and local labor. “The building is a collection of borrowed components from the predominant architectural language in the locality, although does not resemble any one particular building. The minimal colour pallet is reducing the environment to a backdrop where children, books and toys are standing out.” Local carpenters made all the furniture of plywood, while local weavers wove the seat covers from Pandan grass. Related: The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila Due to the Philippines’ location on the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ the country is highly susceptible to natural disasters including typhoons, earthquakes and floods. To fortify the emergency shelter against these events, the architects designed a reinforced-concrete structure with a symmetrical column layout, hollow block walls and a lightweight metal roof. The building is also raised to protect against flooding. + Native Narrative Images by Jakob Gate

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Locally crafted childrens learning center doubles as an emergency shelter in the Philippines

Cooling is warming the planet, but market failures are freezing the AC industry’s innovation

September 26, 2018 by  
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And four reasons why the business of air conditioning is slow to make strides in both cost or efficiency.

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Cooling is warming the planet, but market failures are freezing the AC industry’s innovation

September heat waves are causing early dismissals in schools

September 7, 2018 by  
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Snow days are one of the best perks of winter for students, but now, schools are closing for another variation of inclement weather. School districts around the country are releasing students because of excessive heat, an increasing trend in the face of climate change . Will these so-called “heat days” become the new norm? Schools in the eastern U.S. have been giving out more heat days than ever as record temperatures continue to hit New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and even parts of the Midwest. The cancellations are occurring more frequently in places that do not have adequate air conditioning, especially in relation to after-school programs. This past week, for example, schools on the East Coast shut down as temperatures climbed higher than 90 degrees. A few districts in New York also cancelled sporting activities. Related: One in 11 US public schools are plagued by toxic air Meanwhile, schools in New York City have remained open following a city investment in new air conditioning systems worth nearly $30 million to ensure schools were adequately cooled. The city plans on having every classroom air conditioned over the next four years, meaning no heat days for students and a costly impact on the environment. But for schools that don’t have a budget for air conditioning, heat days might become more frequent. In fact, union organizations in New York are advocating for laws that would require districts to close schools if the temperature is hotter than 88 degrees. In a few schools across the East Coast, teachers have reported temperature readings above 100 degrees in their classrooms, which clearly is not a safe environment for anyone. As global warming continues to affect the climate, record high temperatures could become common in months that normally are not associated with such temperatures. There’s no telling how many schools will adopt heat days as policy, but it is possible that these school dismissals become just as common as traditional snow days. Via New York Times Image via Nicola Tolin

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September heat waves are causing early dismissals in schools

Water-based AC cools the air without using harmful chemicals

January 19, 2018 by  
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Our air conditioners still draw on principles that are around 100-years-old, sucking up power in the process. Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) are working on an alternative: water -based air conditioners. Their system doesn’t need energy -intensive compressors or harmful chemical refrigerants – and can cool air all the way down to 18 degrees Celsius, or 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 40 percent of the energy consumption of a building in the tropics goes to air conditioning, according to NUS associate professor Ernest Chua . He led a team to develop a new air conditioning system offering several advantages over conventional machines commonly found in buildings today. Related: This amazing Bangladeshi air cooler is made from plastic bottles and uses no electricity Water serves as the coolant in their air conditioner, and an innovative membrane technology sucks moisture out of humid air. The system uses up around 40 percent less electricity than compressor-based air conditioners, which NUS said translates to an over 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions . And the system doesn’t release hot air, instead discharging a less-humid cold air stream. For every liter of water used, as much as 15 liters of drinking water can be harvested, according to NUS – and the water the system harvests from the air is five times purer than Singapore tap water. Chua said in a statement, “Our cooling technology can be easily tailored for all types of weather conditions, from humid climate in the tropics to arid climate in the deserts. While it can be used for indoor living and commercial spaces, it can also be easily scaled up to provide air-conditioning for clusters of buildings in an energy-efficient manner.” NUS said it’s cost-effective to produce the system. Right now the team is further developing the design to boost user-friendliness, and aim to incorporate smart features like real-time tracking of energy efficiency or “pre-programmed thermal settings based on human occupancy.” They’re hoping to collaborate with industry partners on commercialization. Via National University of Singapore and Futurity Images via National University of Singapore and NUSLife on YouTube

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Water-based AC cools the air without using harmful chemicals

How Cool Is Your AC Unit?

September 7, 2015 by  
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As temperatures soar higher, so does your air conditioning bill. Does it have to, though? The founders of Mistbox have developed a revolutionary technology that is cost effective, easy to install, and can make your air conditioning unit up to 40%…

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How Cool Is Your AC Unit?

5 Solutions To Dramatically Reduce Your AC Costs This Summer

July 8, 2015 by  
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A recent publication by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that in 1993 only 68% of homes had air conditioning.  Today there are 100 million homes with air conditioning systems, which equates to 87% of households in America….

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5 Solutions To Dramatically Reduce Your AC Costs This Summer

Schools Institute ‘Heat Days’ to Protect Kids from Soaring Classroom Temperatures

September 5, 2013 by  
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Image via Shutterstock . Snow days force school closures due to heaps of snow and ice – and now rising temperatures across the country are forcing some schools to institute “heat days.” As the AP reported this week, heat waves in the Midwest prompted Chicago teachers to greet their students with bottles of water, fans, and wet towels. The old brick classrooms where the students learn are generally unequipped with air conditioning , and the district has little money to retrofit the sweltering old buildings. Read the rest of Schools Institute ‘Heat Days’ to Protect Kids from Soaring Classroom Temperatures Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: air conditioning , associated press , chicago , green design , heat days , heat wave , labor days , long holidays , midwest , Rahm Emanuel , renewable energy , retrofit , school district , snow days , standardized testing , students        

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Schools Institute ‘Heat Days’ to Protect Kids from Soaring Classroom Temperatures

6 Hot Ways to Stay Cool Today

July 20, 2013 by  
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Temperatures are soaring across the northeastern US at present , with several areas experiencing their longest heatwaves in over a decade . If you’re looking to keep cool through this sweltering summer, but you don’t want to blast your air conditioning 24/7, check out our six tips to beat the heat today. From mastering the art of popsicle-making to testing out your swimming skills, there are plenty of ways to stay cool and healthy. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , air conditioning , east coast heat , heatwave , high temperatures , picnics , popsicle making , stay cool , staying cool , swimming        

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6 Hot Ways to Stay Cool Today

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