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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Naturally Cool with Natural Cooling

QuietCool® whole-house system. Photos courtesy of Jeff Kapsalis.

George Harvey

I would think that just about everyone has had the experience of lying in bed, tossing, being unable to sleep because it is too hot. Air conditioning (AC) can help, but it uses a lot of energy. If you live in an off-grid house, it might not even be an option.

In the old days, the fix was to sleep on a screened-in porch to take advantage of the cool night air. Today, for those who do not have screened-in sleeping porches, the usual alternative is to toss, turn, and wish you could sleep outdoors in a hammock without being attacked by mosquitoes.

Fortunately, there is another solution to such problems.

Jeff Kapsalis is a contractor in Shelburne, Vermont. He founded and ran his company, All Aspects Tile and Carpentry, for over a decade, when, about seven years ago, he came across a new whole-house fan from a company called QuietCool® (QC). With a specialty working in kitchens and bathrooms, he understood the need for ventilation, and the things that are needed for efficient operation. A lot of the technology on the market was old to him, but in this equipment, he saw something he liked. He started with an installation in his own house.

The area around Burlington is cool at night, but a well-insulated house, which can be wonderful at retaining heat for those long winter nights, has a secret problem for the summer. It retains heat in those summer nights wonderfully well also. In a heatwave, it takes a good house a day or two to heat up much, because the insulation keeps the heat out. But the temperature inside goes up each day, and the heat that does come in is retained to start the next day off warmer. Add to that the fact that normal household activity warms a house, and without AC, it can be uncomfortable at night.

Whole house vent systems had been around for fifty years, blowing household air outside, which meant cool, outside air was drawn in any open window. The idea behind such a system was to draw in outside air to cool houses at night, then close all the windows to keep the cool air inside during the day. It worked well in an insulated house, and it used less energy than AC, but the user had to be willing to put up with its cranky habits. The fans were noisy. Like AC units, they had to be removed for cold months and installed in the spring. They had to be tended to regularly.

The QC system provided whole-house cooling by sucking the hot air out of the house’s living spaces and into the attic, from which it went out through the attic vents. Fortunately, most houses have attics with sufficiently large vents, which means they are candidates for installation.

The system draws air through a ceiling vent, and from there it goes into a round duct that is wide, flexible, and insulated. This leads to the fan, which is suspended from a rafter. Since the fan is suspended on straps that dampen sound, it is nearly inaudible in most of the house, and typically not noticeably audible from nearby. Its action replaces the attic’s hot air with cooler air from the house.

The ceiling vent can be covered in the fall with an insulated panel specially made for the purpose. So, the fan does not have to be removed, and the work involved in keeping the system is much reduced almost to nothing. It is far less than the work of installing and removing AC units, certainly.

One of the great things about this system is the small amount of energy it uses. Small units can draw as little as 65 watts. Large ones draw much more, but the largest can provide for a 3,500 square foot house on about a tenth of the energy that AC uses.

Kapsalis liked the QC system so much that he became a dealer. You can find his cooling business, Naturally Cool Vermont, at https://www.naturallycoolvt.com/.

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