We're Having a Heat Wave, a Tropical Heat Wave

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising. So... how do you beat a heat wave?

Do you saunter from air conditioned building to car and back? Does your home or office use passive cooling techniques? Are you living in a naturally cool cave? Or do you just sweat it out in the shade? New Mexico is having a heatwave and I'm looking for new ways to cool off - that don't require public nudity.

We live at 7,000 feet elevation in the Rocky Mountain foothills, so temperatures in the upper 90's (35 - 37 Celsius) are unusual here. We use several passive cooling techniques in our home including a vented cool roof, R-50 attic insulation, and mature trees on the south and west sides of the house. Each evening we open the windows and use fans to flush out the warm air and pull in cooler night air. We also grill food outside to avoid heating up the kitchen.

Unfortunately, heat like this starts to overwhelm our usual home cooling methods. I'm trying to find another way to cool off in the middle of a heat wave, which is poor timing. Basic passive cooling tactics include: add ventilation, add shading, add thermal mass (or insulation or radiant barriers). The passive techniques have the advantage of not adding to your electrical bill (and water bill for swamp coolers). Or, I could add active cooling, immediately, with an air conditioner, heat pump, or an evaporative (swamp) cooler.

Of course, there are other ways to cool off - if you're not shy. The World Naked Bike Ride comes to Santa Fe on Saturday, June 19. Say what you will, but I think I'll leave this 'active cooling technique' to more exhibitionist folks. If you go, don't forget your sunscreen!

What: World Naked Bike Ride - Santa Fe, NM
When: Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 12 noon
Where: South Capitol Train Station, 1301 Alta Vista St., Santa Fe, NM 87505

I'm researching the pros and cons of different cooling ideas. I like the passive techniques even though they may take more time to plan and install. Hopefully the heat wave will break before I do. In the meantime, I'll have cool drink by a fan while I watch Marilyn sing about a heat wave, a tropical heat wave...

More Info:

WRCC - Western U.S. Climate Historical Summaries

BuildItSolar - Passive and Active Cooling Techniques

UCLA - Comparing Three Passive Cooling Strategies In Sixteen Different Climate Zones

World Naked Bike Ride - Santa Fe, NM

EcoDaddyo.com - Lessons from Phoenix Part 2 - Passivity

EcoDaddyo.com - Our Home's Cool Roof

Marilyn Monroe - Heatwave

'Heat Wave' by Irving Berlin