Even though we had a hot and sticky city summer last year, I only used the AC once in my southern facing office. This year I'm getting rid of the big ugly window unit and replacing it with wild strawberries.

The following steps describe my strategy.

Step 1: Laundry

I mentioned in a previous money-saving instructable that I dry my laundry on the line rather than in a dryer, even though I do not have access to outdoor space. This obviously saves the energy used by the dryer, and since it is also gentler on your clothes it's greener because your stuff won't wear out so fast. But there's another, huge advantage to drying clothes indoors. In the winter, the clothes add humidity to the air, reducing the need for a humidifier, and in the summer, the process of evaporation cools the air, drastically reducing your need for air conditioning. It works so well that on occasion I'll just soak a few dishtowels which don't need cleaning in cold water and hang them up to dry.

Step 2: Crystal Curtain

Darkening a room is a simple but very efficient way of keeping the space cool. Obviously if your only goal is to cool down you can save yourself a lot of trouble and block your sunny windows with any old sound blanket (the same type movers use). Here I will show you how I blocked the sun and heat without making the room gloomy. This used to be the baby's room, so at the time I wanted it to be cheerful despite the darkness.

Dark blue velvet
Sheer silver fabric for the moon
About 2 dozen chandelier crystals of varying sizes
Curtain hardware (rods, rings, etc)

I made a simple curtain with dark blue velvet. The width of the cloth is approximately two times the width of the window so it is still wavy when the curtains are closed. I sewed simple pleats on top, so the side attached to the rings has the same width as the curtain rod. If you wanted to you could make curtains which are flat when they are closed are closed (like roman shades), but in that case, unless you line the fabric you won't cut out as much light or heat. If you can't sew you can just have curtains made, but honestly, it's really easy and it's much cheaper even if you need to buy a sewing machine.

After I finished the curtains I spread them on the floor and cut out little x's where I wanted the stars. I sewed the flaps down by hand, then sewed on the chandelier crystals I'd bought at the flea market. Use polyester rather than cotton thread -- it will last much longer.

I used a plate to mark the shape of the moon, cut it out and sewed on the sheer fabric. You need it to keep the curtain hanging nicely, however, the sheer fabric is much more fragile than the velvet and will not last as long. The sun dissolved my original moon (after about 7 years), and although I have more fabric I have yet to get around to replacing it: if you look carefully at the second picture you will see that the curtain doesn't hang properly under the moon. That's because now it's just an empty circle.

The curtains work beautifully. They keep the room cool, and the babies used to go around chasing all the rainbows the stars would throw around the room. Once in a while I even catch myself playing with the rainbows on my hands rather than doing my work....

Step 3: Fan

This step is fairly straightforward. Ceiling fans are great, but temporary standing fans work too, particularly if you're just sitting at a desk. Combine them with a darkened room, light clothes and fresh laundry drying nearby and you really don't need the AC.
This will work great in a dry climate but in the southern US from Texas to Florida, Humidity is the last thing we want to increase as it prevents your body's own temperature regulating ability (sweating and evaporation of the that moisture) but for dryer places in the southwest US this isn't a bad idea. guess it's going to depend on where you live and the climate there
Could basting or hemming the inside of the circle cut-out for the moon prevent misshaping? Or maybe using fabric glue to reinforce the shape... The way the fabric hangs versus the way it sits when being cut would also have to be taken into account... Of course, the curtain looks great and everyone would probably be too distracted by how shiny it is to examine it too closely :P
I would make sure those crystals aren't quartz or something that emits vibrations because some frequencies have been known to be harmful to the brain and even cause cancer. For normal adults that is probably O.K. but babies have less thick skulls that can allow more of the frequencies get to their brains. I'm not positive about this information, but this might not be the best idea for a baby's room. You should check out this article: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/content/short/83/6/3548">http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/content/short/83/6/3548</a> . I would definitely check into the material that those chandelier pieces are made of, and that depends on what kind you bought.<br/>
mytechuniverse In order for a quartz crystal to emit any vibration at all in the frequency ranges the report you quoted mentions, the crystal would have to be struck with another object or crystal OR be hit with an AC current in the frequency range the crystal is cut to. Seeing that natural quartz crystals are not cut to a specific frequency and given that the harmonics produced would be double, triple or quadruple the natural frequency of the crystals in question AND that most chandeliers do not move nor do there crystals strike each other on a regular basis, your assumption that quartz crystals are harmful is ludicrous. The report you mentioned does not say that the frequencies produced were produced by quartz crystals in their raw state and it does not mention any specific frequencies but a band of frequencies in two bands. To make a logical assumption that harmful frequencies in specific bands can be generated by quartz crystals in their natural state and therefore quartz crystals are harmful, isn't science; its conjecture and therefore has no scientific basis. It's kind of like global warming. We see results of something warming our global climates, see that increased amounts of carbon dioxide raises the temperature, see that man's increased use of carbon based fuels raises the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, therefore we are responsible for global warming. In and of itself, thats conjecture and not science. When experimentation can prove that man is the cause, then it is plausible and credible. Stick to the facts; leave the conjecture to amateurs. raving apache
I have a big lump of pink rose quartz sitting in my bedroom which has been struck many times before and I have never experienced any bad effects...
I've never seen any chandelier made with actual crystals like quartz... they're made with glass, either cut or molded. What is called crystal is glass with lead. This give the glass better optical qualities and makes it stronger and heavier -- this is why crystal wine glasses can be finer (less thick) than their glass counterparts. I don't even think my "crystals" are made of crystal. Glass is cheaper so most chandeliers use that material. And if glass affects our brain adversely.... well, I suppose that would explain a lot! War, cancer, autism.... who knows what else? But I'll hold off on walling over my windows for now.
Wow, crystal objects have lead in them? Isn't that dangerous? Or it made harmless somehow
You're right about most chandeliers, but I'm just saying that you can never be too careful.
True. It is always important to consider safety in design. You wouldn't want to put lenses in the window, for example, which might look cool but could set fire to your home...
I've always been against the misuse of air conditioning. In my house I made a hole in the attic, next to the highest point of the roof, and I use a turbo box fan supported on the wall, as air extractor. It does not replace a good AC device, but switched on at dusk, when the outside air begins to cool, the atmosphere inside the house cool in appreciably. Curtains (as of this Instruction) are also very effective. And the fans too, and spend far less than a AC.
so it's like a powered chimney?
I don't know what is a powered chimney. If it is as I suppose, a chimney with a inner fan, my extractor is some different. This is allocated near the tallest point of the house, where the hot air go.
You must not live in a humid climate.... it gets VERY humid here in the summer... the humidity is worse than the heat ! If I hung laundry indoors, I'd die, I swear.
It gets pretty muggy in NYC -- but even so it helps to dry laundry indoors. The cooling effect outweighs the humidity effect. Like when they spray water on sidewalks on super hot and muggy days: you can see the vapor rising from the asphalt but it is still a relief.
Huh ! Have to try it then !
These things are good. Also, a person's body also adapts to different temperatures, and will adapt to a room temperature a few degrees warmer than with the AC. Also, if you can keep your wrists and your knees cool, you will feel cool. Wear shorts, if possible. Run cool water over the wrists as necessary.
Very true- I kept cool on a summer cycle trip a while back by wearing sweatbands on my wrists and soaking them with water, and dealt with the hot humid day (yes, we had <em>one</em> :P) last summer with the same technique.<br/>
It's true that these techniques won't make a space cold, just cooler and comfortable. I like to be warm (but not sweaty) inside in the summer and just chilly enough to need a sweater in the winter. I only touched on the wearing light clothes issue, so it's good to bring it up more explicitly.
LOVE the crystal curtain !

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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