Spring is perhaps the best time of the year to experiment with super-efficient heating and cooling systems, since the temperature can flip from chilly one day to warm the next.
However, another reason why spring may be a good time to get those systems up and running is because temperature swings can strain our AC systems. Allow me to explain. Much like automobiles, the stopping and starting of the AC motor — again and again — consumes lots of energy and also can lead to earlier-than-expected repairs. This is especially true for homes that have a heat pump on their system.
But there are innovative, off-grid, eco-efficient ways to stay comfortable during spring, no matter the temperature. And all three can run without the grid:
1. Compost hot-water system
Whether the idea came from a Ph.D. in engineering or a backwoods farmer with a huge amount of creative common sense, I wish I could shake that person’s hand for inventing the compost water heater. The system is set up by winding a heat-capable hose through the compost pile, and then routing it back into the building that requires hot water.
Hey, it’s no secret that compost generates heat. Heck, when piles of hay and mulch are left alone, they can spontaneously combust. So, why not put that kind of thermal energy to work? Chances are that you probably have a compost pile somewhere on the homestead, right?
2. The 5-gallon bucket swamp cooler
For those of you who live in the west or southwestern part of the U.S., you’re probably well-acquainted with the concept of the swamp cooler. When water evaporates, it will expend a tiny amount of energy and remove heat in the process – similar to how our sweat glands work. That’s how swamp coolers work.
Obviously, this system doesn’t exactly serve those of us who live in traditionally humid summer climates, but there’s one extremely handy way to harness the science of a swamp cooler and combine it with a ridiculous level of portability. And since this thing will make even a small solar panel array barely break a sweat, I figured the bucket swamp cooler made the cut.
3. Improvised geothermal climate control
And last but not least, I give you the whole kit-and-caboodle: the improvised geothermal climate control system. This one will also require low-wattage pumps and fans, but again, solar panels ought to do the trick with this one, as well.
The system essentially works like this: Even just a few feet below the ground, temps tend to settle at around a brisk 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, holding steadily all year-round. In fact, if you’re able to dig deep enough, temps even can approach freezing. That’s why, for this particular system, the climate-control magic is derived from its subterranean water supply. In its most basic form, the system uses cool underground water from your homestead’s well to get the job done. To learn more, check out this great article.
All you need to do is move a little water and air, and the earth itself can take care of the hard part.
Have you experimented with any of these systems? Share your tips in the section below: