Thursday, July 9, 2009

Miserable Texas Heat

My kitchen faces directly west. It is a real pain to cook dinner when the kitchen is already an oven! We are still working on solutions to keep that part of the house cooler. Here is what we have done so far.

1) Outside shade. We have a large tree growing in our yard, we normally keep the low branches clipped back, but this year we let them grow in a direction that shades the back side of the house better. This has made some difference in the early afternoon, but does not help once the sun drops below 30 degrees on the horizon.
2) Solar film. I just bought a roll of solar film from Lowes. One roll plus the application kit (needed) cost less than $50. I only did one window and the difference is HUGE. I can now stand at my kitchen sink at 6:30 and not be baked alive. The room is a bit darker overall, and there is a mirror like reflection from the window at night, but I am very pleased with this film overall.
3) Curtains. I have decorative curtains across the other windows in my kitchen (don’t close all the way on their own, mostly just for ‘pretty’). In the summer, I use clothes pins to hold them shut tight and this provides a bit of shading and helps to cool the kitchen too.
4) Fans. If it is just unbearable in the kitchen and I have to cook, I pull out a box fan and direct cooler air from the rest of the house into the kitchen.
5) Solar blocking fabric. This is not in my kitchen, but we just bought a few rolls of solar blocking fabric (70% block) from Home Depot for about $75 for a 50 foot roll. We used this to build a shade barrier for some of my tender plants outside. It seems it would be very easy to make an exterior shade cover for windows.
6) Alternative cooking… I almost never use the kitchen oven during the summer because it heats up the kitchen further, I also try to limit the number of burners I use (we have a gas stove). My previous baking solution was to use a toaster oven in the garage to bake small side dishes for meals, but my sweet husband actually installed a full sized oven for me in the garage so I can bake to my hearts content and not heat up the house.

Some other solutions we have considered, but have not been willing to shell out the time or $$ for yet are:
1) wider eaves
2) covered porch area built behind kitchen
3) exterior roll down shutters
4) pretty arbor with vines to provide shade at the west side of the house
5) custom solar window screens (I have seen these at friend’s houses, but never asked how well they work)
6) Moving to a cooler state (HA!)

As you can see, we have put some real effort into beating the miserable Texas heat.

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