beat the heat, on the cheap

Our house sits high on a ridge, facing West towards Puget Sound, and the setting sun. From mid-day through sunset, our kitchen, dining room, and living room are bathed in sunshine, rising as much as 20°. All the windows have wooden blinds, but they are dark colored. Instead of reflecting the heat, they absorb it and radiate it into the room. They are effective at controlling light, but not heat.

Because high temps are rare in Seattle, houses here don’t have A/C. After the first day of last week’s heat wave, I took action. I did some research on cooling methods, including whole house fans, rigging up a cool air intake to my furnace’s intact duct, window films, etc. Because we rent, I can’t just start cutting holes in the house and moving ducts. So I settled on a less invasive (and costly) solution: box fans and window film.

I purchased two box fans ($15 ea) to place in windows. (Why do box fans not come in sizes larger than 20″?) The fans draw air in the shaded East side of the house, creating a cool breeze that pushes warmer air out the West side. Turning them on at 7PM is sufficient to cool the house down to 70° by bedtime. What a relief!

Window films have come a long ways since I last used them. Good film is now reasonably priced, uses water to ‘set’ the adhesive, and doesn’t require a ‘pro’ to get good results. Lowes had Gila Platinum Heat Control Window Film in stock so I picked up 4 rolls, enough to tint most of my 15,000 sq/in of West facing glass. I stripped the blinds off the windows and went to work. It took me about an hour per pane to apply the film, with half that spent cleaning the glass, scraping the crusties off, and cleaning it again.

The results are outstanding. Amazing. Phenomenal.

4:02 PM Jen: Wow the kitchen is much cooler!  Great idea and thanks.

We should not be surprised at how effective the film is, yet we are. The product fulfills the claims made by the manufacturer, and exceeded our expectations. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, window film qualifies for a 2009 Tax Credit.

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