KEEPING YOUR COOL
Mitigate Global Warming
Temperatures will continue to climb significantly in our area in the coming years. As everyone but the most blatant deniers knows, Global Warming is here now, not decades in the future. In June on Showtime, there was an episode of the excellent documentary program Years of Living Dangerously, hosted by Matt Damon which focused on the LA area. In this section of theprogram, Matt interviewed a doctor doing research on the impact on resident’s health from the heat wave we had last July, 2013. Besides the hundred some deaths due to heat related stress, there was another insidious outcome of this heat wave: a significant uptick in premature births due to dehydration in pregnant women nearing term.
Bottom line: there are going to be more and more negative effects on the well being and comfort of our families as our local temperatures ratchet up. In this article, I am not going to discuss what we should do politically , I am going to discuss very specifically and practically what you can do personally to mitigate the impact of global warming on your home and family.
COOL AMBIENT AIR:
We can do a great deal to lower the ambient air temperature around our homes by strategically planting shade trees on the South, East, and West sides of our houses and driveways. Driveways and other hardscape in particular soak up heat and keep the air over them heated up by about 20-30 degrees. The particular type of tree in terms of height, canopy spread, deciduous or evergreen needs to be decided by factors such as the area to be covered, possible impact on solar panels on roofs, potential leaf and seed drop, etc.
LOWER THE HEAT LOAD ON YOUR ROOF:
Install automatic fans in your attics. Increase the Albedo ( reflectance ) of your roof. As an example, I painted the shingles on the west and south facing portions of my roof, which are not seen from the street, with a white polymeric roofing paint to reflect more heat off of my roof ( and to make it last a lot longer as well.) You might consider installing solar panels for water heating or electrical production and get a “twofer” - non CO2 emitting electricity to run your air conditioners and shade on your roof to lower the heat load on your house.
LOWER THE HEAT LOAD ON YOUR HOUSE:
In the summer, the east and particularly the west sides of our houses can absorb a great deal of heat, which can be significantly reduced with appropriately placed shade trees, shrubs and vines. Again, these need to be chosen carefully according to the specific situation.
Here are some of my favorite trees for residential use. Double click on a picture to see a larger image and name of tree.
Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre,
San Marino, Arcadia, CA