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Saving Summer Money - Air conditioning Alternatives Window fans & Swamp Coolers

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  • Saving Summer Money - Air conditioning Alternatives Window fans & Swamp Coolers

    Well we all know Winter heating and Summer cooling are 2 major expenses.

    Been looking at alternative methods of cooling during the summer. Very intrigued by window fans, especially at night they'll pull the cool air in, and the right ones can exhaust heat to the outside. They are far more energy efficient than AC and in most places should work just fine.

    Been eyeing a few great options.

    This first one while more expensive has a very cool feature it can run both pulling air in, and pulling air out at the same time

    second one a much cheaper option with great reviews as well

    anther option is Swamp Coolers such as this

    there are much more robust and capable units but they start to get a bit more costly like this one

    Just some ideas, all of which should substantially reduce your reliance on running your expensive AC all summer long

    If any of you have these options, or pick one up please let us know!

    The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)

  • #2
    Diesel: Have you looked into attic fans? They are usually installed in the center of the house. The fan is located in the attic with louvers cut into the ceiling. They draw air through the house much like your window fans do. Open a few windows, and turn on the attic fan, and you will pull a nice breeze though the house. Very effective.

    Swamp box coolers are great if you have no humidity. You are basically putting a bucket of ice in front of a fan. If there is humidity their efficiency is drastically reduced.
    The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


    • #3
      Pictures won't come up but Morgan is right about the attic fans. We have one as well in the attic and we have another one that we haven't installed yet and not sure if we will need it. We got such a great price on them from a friend that we just got the two and one for in case anything happens to the installed one. usually our heating bill which is natural gas runs on the coldest months around $200 or less. Compared to some neigbors whom state they run over $400 a month that's not bad. Summer time is same for air conditioner as well. We keep it on 76 all summer and use the ceiling fans and we are good to go at around 150 to 200 a month. It's the humidity that gets bad. Keep that down and house stays cooler in summer.


      • #4
        Attic fans are great if the right conditions exist, and that being that it cools down in the evening so they can pull cool air into the home. Beyond that, they're just wasting energy moving warm air out the roof and replacing it with more warm air from the open windows.

        Air conditioning is far more energy efficient if done right. First off, the big advantage of air conditioning isn't so much its ability to cool the air, its the fact that it removes humidity from the air. There's a big difference between a 90 degree day at 30% relative humidity and a 90 degree day at 90% humidity.. One is quite tolerable even if you're working, the other feels like you're being cooked in a steamer even if you're sitting in a chair.

        Everything from the color of your home and roof, to the amount of shade trees, to the type of insulation and windows you have, will affect your heating and cooling costs.
        People insulate their homes thinking they're going to save money on the winter heating bills, and that's great, but its just as important to insulate your home to save money on summer cooling too.

        Also, not all air conditioners are created equal.. an older 8 or 10 seer air conditioner will use a whole lot more energy to do the same job as a more modern 16 or 20 seer unit... and when I say a whole lot more, I mean LOADS AND LOADS more energy..
        The higher the seer number, the more efficient the air conditioner is. My neighbor has a 19 seer unit and spends about $35 a month to cool his home.. Mine is a 10 seer and used to cost me around $100-$120 per month when I ran it off grid power.

        I have a 30 inch attic fan that exhausts air from my home into the attic and eventually out the vents to atmosphere.. I don't even run it very much unless the weather is cooperating. When we have hot days and cool nights, I turn it on for a couple hours, but when its muggy outside and hot, it doesn't work so well to cool the home and the air conditioner is far more effective and ends up using less energy.

        Air conditioners also help control mold growth and food spoilage by keeping the humidity down and make sleeping more comfortable.


        • #5
          Question. My central unit has a setting to adjust the fan either for auto (only running when heating or cooling) and on (running all the time). Does anyone know which of these settings is the most energy efficient?


          • #6
            well logically your auto, it's only going to run when the AC unit is calling for cooling. The on is just that, the fan running constant which helps to circulate the air, but as I said, the fan motor will be on constantly until you turn it off or put it back in auto.
            I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


            • #7
              CountryGuy, you are right about the logic of auto being the most efficient energy wise if you run the ac unit only. However I failed to mention the temp I keep my thermostat, 76 degrees in the summer heat. In order for me to remain comfortable at this temp air movement is required. I have a choice of running 3 ceiling fans or putting the fan of the ac unit on always on. So electricity for 3 ceiling fans or one ac fan must be weighed. Also, wear on these fans (ceiling & ac) must be taken into account. I guess I could stand in front of the meter and check or buy a device that would allow me to check each individual appliance.


              • #8
                ZAGran: I believe it is more energy efficient to maintain a constant temperature in your house, and keeping the AC unit on auto. If the unit is turned off the temperature will get warmer than what you want, and the unit will work harder, and run longer to bring the temperature back down. Letting it cycle on its own at a constant rate will be more efficient. We use ceiling fans as well, but we keep the AC on auto.
                The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

                Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


                • #9
                  we don't have air conditioning in our house, not many do in the UK, some brand new houses do but not many.
                  if we want fresh air we open a window!!


                  • #10
                    Z, when we lived down south and even now we run the AC on auto but we have the ceiling fans on all the time to circulate air. I recall reading that the breeze the fan causes creates in effect a windchill that will make you feel 10 degrees cooler. One thing to consider is that if your ceiling fans are more than say 10 years old, look to replace them with newer ones that have more energy efficient motors in them.

                    Ensure you have your heating/ ac system serviced prior to the main heating and cooling seasons and if it's a force air system change filters regularly. Have your furnace checked out about this time of year or in early fall and have your ac done in the spring. Doing it in the "down" times will often help you get a better price. A lot also depends on the specific type of heating and cooling system you have - heat pump, gas furnace, fuel oil, geothermal, etc...
                    I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


                    • #11
                      We will be replacing our air conditioner next year as it is working now but on it's last leg. We are going to do a big upgrade on it. We keep our ceiling fans on all summer as it helps a lot. We keep temp on 76. We have never had a utility bill over $200 but maybe twice since we have lived here for over 45 years. So we are pleased with how it has worked for us.


                      • #12
                        AJ - depending on the age of your A/C unit that's a smart move. As an FYI, when you're looking at the new systems look at the efficiency ratings, both the SEER and the HSPF ratings. The higher these numbers the more expensive the unit but the more energy efficient they are. SEER basically is more important in regards to cooling which is likely more important in the Hampton Roads area of VA. The HSPF is more in regards to how efficient a unit is in heating, so higher the number the better. So for cold weather areas of the country this is likely more important since typically there are more days of heating a year than there are of cooling.

                        When you start getting price comparisons you likely will find heat pumps ranging on the low end around $4-5K, all the way up to $12-14K. Now some of those prices might be a bit extreme but when deciding take into account your home and how well insulated it is along with the cost pew Kw of electricity you pay. If your home has poor insulation you might want the highest efficiency level since it'll be running more often to cool or to heat. in the other direction, if you have a good level of insulation you might be able to trade off to a lower efficient unit. Sometimes having a contractor (or grandson) put in another layer of insulation in the attic is well worth the money spent.

                        I will highly suggest you talk with 3-4 contractors and look at better quality brands as down the road parts and serviceability can come into play. the low cost one made in China might not be around in 5 years when you need some part. When you talk with these companies, the good ones should be able to show you the cost analysis of their various new unit offerings and compare them to what you're currently spending. They should also be able to show you payback in years (based on your electricity cost) of the different efficiency levels. Also check with your power utility as some will help in this analysis and some often have rebate programs or know of govt rebate programs you might be eligible for for trading up to a new higher efficiency unit.

                        Hope this helps
                        I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


                        • #13
                          no wonder everyone wants off grid power when SHTF, its a funny old world.


                          • #14
                            CG, we are checking around.. This is only for air as we have hot water base board heat. boiler is about 4 years old now. So only the air condition unit. We are going to put in another exchange at other end of house and going high efficiency with it. We have already added more insulation in attic. So all is good. Pan handle will also have to be replaced. This will be the third one we had to replace. The first was a gas air conditioner. Not many of them around here anymore but we may be looking into it again. Still plenty of time for reserch.


                            • #15
                              I live in a mild climate, we don't need such equipment, if I want fresh air I open a window or go for a walk.
                              we have one cast iron fire which heats the whole house, we have a small electric fan heater in the hall if we need extra heat but its only used on the coldest days in the winter.
                              its a small house, only 2 bedrooms, a living room and a small kitchen, bathroom(wet room-shower no bath) just replaced the garden room at the back(wooden with Perspex roof).