Two weeks ago it rained and temps were hovering in the mid-sixties, which in this neck of the woods typically means no one goes outside to play. No less than seven days later, the temperatures are well over a hundred and far too hot to go outside for any reason at all. In Northern California, temperatures above the one hundred mark are a standard occurrence, from June till August. While the climate here is anything but humid, it is just humid enough, that no amount of shade makes it bearable to sit outside, at least not by choice.
Our home was built in 2005 and while it is not old, it is certainly not new enough to benefit from many of the energy efficient standards they have put into practice over the last few years. In fact, I might wager to guess that if we had an energy audit done, we would easily be no higher than a rating in the sixtieth percentile for energy efficiency, and this would not be for a lack of energy efficient building materials and appliances. Our poor rating would far more likely be due to the insane amount of energy loss that occurs throughout our home, thanks to a handful of details that have been overlooked and have taken a turn for the worse over time. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the second-floor bedroom my boys share. Let me show you what I mean…
Above is a very rough and general floor plan that shows how my home lays out, the direction the rooms face and the location of my existing thermostats. One of the greatest difficulties we deal with each summer is in trying to cool the southern facing rooms. This is made worse by the fact that our upstairs thermostat is on the opposite side of the house, facing north, and the first floor thermostat is in the only space in this entire house that does not have eight thousand windows, magnifying the heat and cooking us from the inside, out. It only makes matters worse that the southern facing rooms are separated from the rest of the house by no less than eight million miles of hallway and more windows than any person should have to deal with, without having an unlimited budget to counteract the energy loss that happens consequently.
The boys currently share bedroom 3 on the second floor, which is the southernmost facing room in the house. There is not much in the way of shelter from the 100 plus degree sun that beats down on that side of our home, from morning till night. Even with twice the amount of window coverings in this space, there is no lack of light and heat to raise the indoor temperatures up into the nineties in the blink of an eye. To cool their room down to a slightly tolerable temperature, I have to turn the air conditioning down to near below freezing temps in the master bedroom. It creates a misery of overwhelming proportions and can cost upwards of $600 per month in the warmest months of the year. To pay such a high price only to suffer both extremes, hardly seems fair.
I currently have a complex system in place for opening and closing the blinds, depending on the time of day and whether I am trying to let in light, shield from the heat or usher in the cooler temps once the sun has set for the night. While this frequently feels futile, every little bit truly helps and I am perfectly willing to commit this act of futility and hide out in the dark, if it means we can eek out a few more good years before we need to replace our entire HVAC system, outright. Given the sprawl of our home’s footprint, when the system goes, it will be nothing short of a small fortune to replace it and address those areas where the energy loss is greatest, or we risk winding up in a similar scenario in the future. Likely, the replacement cost of a new hi-tech unit that is more functional for our home and the extreme climate we have here, will be the least of the costs as the windows, inadequate insulation and miles upon miles of ducting, are also likely culprits of increased heat in the summer time. The total cost of the updates that need to take place to make this home run efficiently and comfortably will absolutely be several tens of thousands of dollars, but in the meantime, I think there must be some more affordable upgrades I might do to better the functionality of our units and lower the cost of our utility bill each month.
The easiest upgrade of all is also the least costly and that is to install fans in those bedrooms that are currently lacking in the cool air department. This is an update I have planned for the guest bedroom, shortly, but for the boy’s room this is not an option. Their bunk bed limits what I can put on the ceiling and the size of their room is just too small to place two beds and still have room for toys or anything else.
When Lennox reached out about their new iComfort® S30 thermostat, it got me thinking about how this might be helpful to someone who doesn’t happen to have one of their amazing heating and cooling units. What I found when I started digging around, was exciting given my current plight. It turns out Lennox is a maker of home heating and cooling systems with excellent ratings and reviews all around. In addition to heating and cooling units, they also have several air purification systems and a zoning system that I am seriously looking into. It will let you create up to four separate zones for heating and cooling your home. This means that when one zone needs to be cooled, while another does not, energy is not wasted through collateral cooling or heating, where it isn’t needed. Essentially, I will not freeze while my boys are roasting. When paired with their new iComfort® S30 thermostat, this stands to be a fantastic solution for making the whole home completely comfortable and potentially lower your bills while you are at it.
It sounds like it works through a series of dampers placed in the ducting, that act to open or close the airway depending on your needs. This seems like it would increase the efficiency of my system, making it a life well spent in the process. I know the benefits of a new hi-tech unit, but I wasn’t expecting to find something that would help my unit become a bit more hi-tech without having to replace it outright. This seems like a fantastic investment, regardless of the unit you may or may not have. If I could split my home into four separate zones, it seems as though it would provide a customizable solution for my heating and cooling issues. From there, the iComfort® S30 would allow me to control the various zones via an app (this obviously means, from the comfort of my bed), and I would live on as the happiest camper of all.
Do you all struggle with this issue as well? Or maybe you have the opposite problem? What are your summertime solutions to beat the heat?
This post was brought to you by Lennox. Innovation never felt so good.