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Old 01-11-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpeatie View Post
Does anyone have opinions on the swamp coolers. My sister is thinking about one and I am from the southeast where the glory of AC is that it pulls out humidity. That's not the problem in the west so I was wondering the benefit of the swamp cooler vs air conditioning. Does it mist or something to reduce the perception of heat?

BTW- we hit the 100s almost every week from the end of June until through August and sometimes into September. Do that with outrgeous humidity and then tell me 90 is bad. (Hence my father moving from SC to live with said sister.)

Thanks for any explanations- I'm usually the building/construction question in the family but this one was foreign to me.
Swamp coolers are very popular in Denver from what I've read. Evaporation requires energy to change the liquid water into water vapor. The energy comes from the heat in the air. The air actually gets cooler (and more humid) so it just doesn't feel cooler, it is cooler. They only work well in dry climates where the water can quickly evaporate.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
"Life threatening"? Has this forum been turned into City-Stand-up-comedy-Data? Temperatures in the dry upper 90s and low 100s as long as you're out of the direct sun and hydrated, is not even close to "life threatening." Maybe uncomfortable, not "life threatening" unless if you are extremely ill or elderly to begin with. You don't even know what extreme heat is until you've lived in a place like Phoenix, which frequently gets temperatures in the 110s and can cool down to an overnight low of 90 degrees.
For healthy adult me, not so much, and I get your point. But, this thread seems to have turned into an opportunity to bash my family and our desire for a modicum of comfort in the least environmentally-taxing way. I am not keen on installing air conditioning for a variety of reasons. All I really wanted to know was what people in this region think about whole-house fans compared to a/c.

So, for all of you who would like a pat of the back for your ability to deal with triple-digit heat, or even *just* the high nineties, you have mine. Congratulations! You're a testament to humanity. Now, can we please get back to the subject.

Quote:
Swamp coolers are very popular in Denver from what I've read. Evaporation requires energy to change the liquid water into water vapor. The energy comes from the heat in the air. The air actually gets cooler (and more humid) so it just doesn't feel cooler, it is cooler. They only work well in dry climates where the water can quickly evaporate.
Very helpful information. Thank you.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Idaho Springs, CO
122 posts, read 467,368 times
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Swamp coolers work very well here due to the low humidity. Two things, they add a lot of humidity to the air, and you have to open the window of the room you want to cool. Also if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, you'll want to check and see if they're allowed. Last place we lived in Thornton did not allow them. Central air only.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,710,539 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
For healthy adult me, not so much, and I get your point. But, this thread seems to have turned into an opportunity to bash my family and our desire for a modicum of comfort in the least environmentally-taxing way. I am not keen on installing air conditioning for a variety of reasons. All I really wanted to know was what people in this region think about whole-house fans compared to a/c.
No I agree, use A/C or swamp cooler or whatever technology you prefer. I've only lived in buildings with A/C, I've never even had a swamp cooler. But because it's nice to feel comfortable indoors-- not because you're afraid you're going to die without it.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:57 AM
 
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I don't know whether or not a swamp cooler would be acceptable in our neighborhood, but it's definitely worth checking out. One of my big concerns about a/c is its dehumidifying effect, great in damp climates, but probably not so good here in the high plains.

Someone else mentioned that a whole-house fan would pull pollen etc. into the house. Allergies aren't a problem for us, but the statement got me thinking. I saw a study recently about indoor air quality that found that even in areas of relatively high pollution, indoor air quality is nearly always worse than that which is outdoors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
No I agree, use A/C or swamp cooler or whatever technology you prefer. I've only lived in buildings with A/C, I've never even had a swamp cooler. But because it's nice to feel comfortable indoors-- not because you're afraid you're going to die without it.
Spend some time with my family after more than a few days of near triple-digit heat, and you might understand! We needed a little relief. Even a few degrees would have made all the difference.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:43 AM
 
Location: Denver 'burbs
21,873 posts, read 23,139,610 times
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Several years ago, we also installed a whole house humidifier - no more static electricity shocks!
I haven't seen a swamp cooler in quite some time. I wondered if they went by the wayside with all the increased awareness regarding mold. Is that an issue with swamp coolers?
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:26 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 16 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,987 posts, read 102,540,351 times
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We had a swamp cooler in the home we rented in NW Denver, all those years ago. It worked well. The first summer we were there was ridiculously hot, and we were among the few who were comfortable. That was back in the day (summer of 1981) when people still said "You don't need air conditioning in Denver". People would talk of going to the malls ALL DAY, to get into the A/C, also the library, movies, etc.

When we bought our first house, we installed a room A/C in our bedroom, b/c it was easier to do than a swamp cooler. Basically, you just have to plug it in. The swamp cooler has to be connected to the water supply, etc. I do think swamp coolers have become less popular in recent years, and A/C has become more popular.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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The increased efficiency of A/C units (SEER rating) has made them more economical but still much more costly than a bit of water and a fan. Still though, you pay more per seer and will have to wait years (if ever) to see any upfront cost recuperation. Figure about a 1000 bucks per SEER unit above 16 for your average unit. When you figure that most units lose efficiency after 6 or 7 years even with regular maintenance it is hard to justify the cost unless you are very green or have deep pockets.

The average humidity of Denver is creeping upwards and each little increase reduces the deficiency of evaporative cooling.

The house fan is still a great way to move cold air into the house at night and coupled with good design and insulation as well as proper precautions (closing windows and using shades) can provide for comfortable days in Denver all year long.
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Old 04-22-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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Default whole house fans can really save on air conditioning costs

There is no perfect way to cool a house, but a whole house fan in Colorado is as good as it gets.
1. Air conditioning is very expensive and it's almost impossible to cool any of the upstairs, especially in these newer homes with high ceilings.
2. Swamp coolers are messy and always put some mold in the air. They take a lot of maintenance and they don't cool very well upstairs either.
3. Since the mornings are cool, a whole house fan can bring in fresh air in the morning through any window. For the afternoon, most houses have basements, so you can pull air up into the house with the basement windows open, at least for about an hour. If there is no basement, you can water the lawn and open a window to get cool air into the house. This takes a lot of the excess heat load off the house.

3. If you can then hold out for a few hours till 5 or 6, it usually starts to cool down and a breeze coming through the house feels great. By late evening, you can actually get too cold. If you can't stand the heat, then you can run your air conditioning for just a few hours, say from 2pm to 6pm. Having run the fan earlier with the basement windows open, the fan has gotten rid of the really over-heated air in the house and attic and the ac can function without being overloaded or costing very much.

By the way, it costs around 25 a day to run one of these fans. Check it out at atticfan.com.

Also, everyone here is complaining that these fans are noisy. The reasons are: 1. Most people (including contractors) buy really cheap fans at the big box stores. Those are all junk (cheap fan equals noisy fan). When was the last time you bought a really well made YUGO? 2. Most people just slap them into the attic without bothering to do a really thorough installation and 3. Almost no one adds more ventilation so that most of air can't get out of the attic. Lots of these fans are ventilating about 1/3 of the air and compressing the other 2/3. The shutters shake and rattle and the sound is terrible. Excessive noise is not an issue if you buy a good (read: not the cheapest!) fan to start with, have it professionally installed and then properly ventilate the attic.
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:47 AM
 
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Default Update

We had a two-speed, attic-mounted whole house fan installed this morning, along with quite a few more vents under the eaves and on the roof. Although the weather today was unseasonably cool, I could really feel the difference in the upstairs bedrooms this evening. Our total installation cost was less than half that of a replacement air conditioning system, and the cost to run the fan should be about a tenth the cost of a/c. The noise turned out to be a non-issue. I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet the fan is compared to those I've heard in other homes.

Thanks to everyone for their input. I am one very happy camper!
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