Architects in Portland, Seattle and other U.S. cities are increasingly opting to leave out air conditioners when designing new buildings.
According to a recent report by Green Tech Media, about 39 percent of the energy generated in the U.S. goes to power buildings and the appliances they contain. Air conditioning accounts for about 40 percent of that figure, with heating and cooling combining for 16 percent of the nation’s total energy use.
Without air conditioners, buildings are naturally cooled with technology such as computer-operated windows that open at night to allow cool air in and then trap it inside during the daylight hours.
“The way we heat and cool buildings in this country is absolutely ridiculous,” Jim Lee, CEO of Cimetrics, an energy efficiency company, told the website. For her part, a Seattle architect, Amanda Sturgeon, was quoted as saying that “there are only five days a year you need cooling in Seattle.”
By skipping the air conditioners, the designers are also making it easier for their new buildings to gain LEED certification, which can positively impact property values while saving money and energy.
Consumers can also do much to make their existing homes much more energy efficient, often for little money or effort. Some options include gas furnaces, small renewable energy systems such as solar panels, and highly efficiency heating technology.